*Pictures pending for this post
WARNING: You may want to grab a sandwich; this is an extended post. Condensed version will be up soon.
I would like to think of myself as crafter. As a do-er of DIY things. I don’t have a crazy pinterest full of “THINGS TO TRY AT HOME!!!!!!!!” or a blog full of best tricks and practices for mason jars, but I do like to get my hands into some projects. Long story short, I saw a guy who made a stool out of concrete. Wanted to try it. Decided to blog about it. Drumroll….DIY: ADVENTURES IN CONCRETE.
You really don’t need much to (attempt to) make a concrete stool. I used the following materials:
- Bucket to mix in
I used this blue bucket which I purchased from Wal Mart – I would imagine it was pretty cheap, but I can’t say for sure. I bought it in a fit of speed and anxiety, during an innocent Saturday when our upstairs toilet wouldn’t stop running and starting leaking water all through the hallway and down our living room wall. Now our ceiling looks like this:Anyway, any bucket will do, really.
- Another bucket for a mold
Get a smooth, flat-bottomed bucket – since the bottom of the bucket will be the mold for the top of your stool
I purchased this at Festival Foods. My bag was 60 lb and when asked if I needed help (I was wearing a flannel and carrying a man’s-stlye wallet..DOES IT LOOK LIKE I NEED HELP!?) I even carried it up to the checkout myself ….but really, this stuff comes in a paper-y bag that isn’t that large so it plays this evil trick on you where you think, Psssh I can get this no problem AND THEN BOOM next thing you know, you’re too proud to ask for assistance, and you’re carrying (or dragging) around this 450 lb bag of crap sounding like some sort of asthmatic, out of shape person moving furniture up a flight of steep stairs. Or a mountain. That never ends. Just hope that when you are dragging that bag out to your car, along with the other 784230943 things you bought, no one is watching.
- Scientific measuring devices
I used this state-of-the-art mixer for stirring and mixing. You can probably use a spoon, though.
I used this really futuristic top-of-the-line measuring cup for measuring. The symbols on it are not designs, but are written in a really advanced language and it reads: ONLY USE THIS TO MEASURE IF YOU ARE SUPER SMART AND CAN HANDLE THE POWERS THIS
BROKEN COFFEE CUP FROM GOODWILL MEASURING DEVICE BEHOLDS. You can probably just use whatever you want for this. Even your hands will work.
- An open area with something to protect your floor
My roommates were both gone, so I just did this in our living room, but I would suggest an area without carpeting that has lots of space and where you typically do projects. If you don’t have an area like this, just wait till whoever you live with leaves. I just ripped apart old cardboard pizza boxes and Labatt cases to use a sort of tarp. Bonus points if you don’t clean up, and then blame it on your cat or alcoholic Christmas tree. Don’t blame the dog though – dogs are cool.
- 1 ¼” diameter wooden dowel, 48” long, cut into 3 pieces of equal length (that’s 16” per piece, for those of you out there who aren’t mathologists)
These will be the legs of yo’ stool.
I had tried the previous weekend to put concrete into glass cups I bought cheap at Goodwill, sort of as a test run. I realized that my Quikrete had a lot more rocks in it than I wanted. In a desperate attempt to not leave the house and instead do this project with the items I had on had, I used this weird, over-sized fly swatter-looking item to strain the rocks out of Quikrete. BUT! In the nick of time, Justin and his dad came in and looked at me and said
Them, in unison: uh what the hell are you doing, everyone knows not to take out the rocks
Me: Well, I was just gonna-
Them: No…no, you weren’t.
So then I found out taking out the rocks from the Quikrete is going to cause all this strange dust in the air and eventually a lot of the magic fairy dust stuff that I need for the Quikrete to work would be taken out too during this process. So Mr. Nathan Jones gave me a brief run-down on concrete including its Latin meaning and its history during the renaissance period and how it saved many families on the Oregon Trail from dying of dysentery.
Although I wanted our detailed conversation on the scientific purposes of concrete to continue, he and Justin left in search of beer and wings. So I did what anyone would do: I put on the Last Waltz, got half a sandwich, and started playing with concrete.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, you want some sort of oil to oil up your bucket so that the concrete (once dry) pops out a little easier. This too was a great tip given to me by Nathan. Make sure BEFORE you start oiling that you are in a good point in The Last Waltz (no Neil Diamond or stupid interviews with Robbie Robertson) because your hands are gonna be all oily and it will be hard to use the remote to skip over this.
Okay, enough writing. Time for instructions:
- After the Last Waltz has been put on and your mold bucket has been oiled, mix up the Quikrete and some water in your mixing bucket. You’ll want it to be like cookie dough, but a little wetter – think pancake batter, but not that runny. I can’t actually say what my ratio of water to Quickrete was because I was slopping both around like I was in some sort of wet, concrete food fight. If you find out there is too much water (which I did) then instead of thinking clearly about how you can get rid of some by adding more concrete or safely straining it out, instead run to the nearest shower, break the sliding door off of it, and start pouring concrete everywhere. TRUST ME, THIS WORKS.
- If you followed all of step 1, you are in the right place. Now, your shower is full of concrete, your boyfriend Levon Helm is in the middle of singing The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down (for those of you who don’t know, Levon and I have a special connection…even though he’s like 40 years older than me and died many years ago) and you’re super hungry.This is bad because 1. Youre missing Levon 2. Your shower is a disaster and someone is probably going to surprisingly show up at your house and be like “WTF?” (Because you’re full of concrete, wearing a pair of briefs, mismatching tube socks and a Montana Grizzlies v-neck) and 3. You don’t have time for this BS. You gotta finish the stool. You have only just started.
- After you clean up your shower and fast-forward though parts of The Last Waltz that have Robbie Robertson, and have your concrete (finally) good and mixed, dump it on into your bucket that will be used for the mold. The only reason I didn’t just start mixing in the mold bucket was because I didn’t want a ton of crap on the sides of the bucket from mixing that would dry. This is actually probably totally unnecessary, and you can just mix it in your mold bucket, but who knows.
- I used enough concrete so that it filled up 3 inches of my bucket. I marked a line on the side, and then realized it was near impossible to tell where the concrete actually was in comparison, so I used the end of my super-scientific mixer to measure.
- Grab your equal length dowels, and stick them in so that they are spaced evenly. As you should know, and as Nathan told me, IT IS CRUCIAL THAT YOU LEAVE ROOM BETWEEN THE BOTTOM OF THE BUCKET AND THE END OF THE DOWEL. I left about an inch between and would suggest about the same for anyone else. Put a mark at an inch of the dowel or measure it again after you stick it in or whatever works for you. Also, do not put the dowels right in the center of the bucket – space those out also about an inch from the center, then angle them so they dry leaning on the bucket.
- Wait. Forever.
My concrete stool is still drying at home, mainly because 1. it is still a little wet and 2. I’m slightly afraid of failure so I have not taken it out in case it really sucks. I will probably take it out this evening, so stay tuned for a follow-up post on the final product. There are still some steps that need to be completed after the stool is free of the bucket.
And, if you are reading this, CONGRATULATIONS – you just survived a 1500 word blog post. Wasn’t it worth it though?
Feel free to comment your thoughts on the concrete stool and my instructions.