No Sew Cayden Nailhead Bar Height Stool

Submitted by Ana White on Thu, 02/16/2012 - 10:51
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How to build a no sew nailhead leather upholstered stool. Free step by step plans. This plan shows how to build with pocket holes.

It only seems right that after putting together plans for the bench height and counter height stool that we also add plans for bar height stools, featuring Jaime's no sew nailhead upholstered top. Friends don't let friends spend $300 on a stool that they could make for $30.  What if you need 4?  Don't worry, I've got your back.  Or at least seating for the backside hehe ...

Speaking of friendship, I wanted to tell you something.
This winter, I've really been struggling.  We've gone through one of the coldest winters on record, so cold that for six weeks we could barely leave the house because our vehicles become unreliable.  And I've been working very hard on a book of plans due out this fall with Potter Craft/Random House that has kept me sitting behind a computer screen for long hours, day after day.
Grace asked me the other day why I haven't been building.  My preschooler noticed.  All these years, it's as if I've taken for granted how building can nurture your soul and awaken your creative spirit.  How even the darkest of winter blues can be brightened when you have a goal that can better your family's life.  
Anyway, I digress - what I really wanted to say, is despite struggling this year with weather, a massive amount of computer work, and not having time for my sure bet creative outlet, I found myself smiling at the computer screen.  And laughing out loud, not just typing LOL.
My husband asked me what I was grinning about, and I said, "I'm not!"
Uh, okay.
I was grinning ear to ear reading your Facebook comments and posts.
I just want you to know that when you write me, when you email me, when you post a project, even if I can't respond, it is making a difference in my life and giving me inspiration to keep at it.  I am very appreciative.
Thank you so much.  You are lovely.
Dimensions are shown above. Suitable for Bar Height.


Shopping List

1 - 2x12 @ 18 1/2" long
1 - 2x2 @ 10 feet long
1 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long
2" foam pad, at least 18 1/2" x 11 1/2"
batting to cover foam pad
leather or fabric
decorative nails (available at most hobby stores)
This plan is shown built with pocket holes. To build without pocket holes, please review this plan

Cut List

1 - 2x12 @ 18 1/2"
4 - 2x2 @ 27 1/2" (long point to short point, ends cut parallel at a 5 degree double bevel)
2 - 1x2 @ 8 7/8" (long point to long point, ends NOT parallel, ends cut at 5 degrees off square)
2 - 1x2 @ 14 3/8" (long point to long point, ends NOT parallel, ends cut at 5 degrees off square)
8 - 1x2 @ 1/2" - one end cut at 5 degrees off square

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Miter Saw
Power Sander
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

To cut legs, set your miter saw for a five degree double bevel - meaning the saw cuts at a 5 degree angle and 5 degree bevel at the same time. Cut the end of the 2x2 off, as close as possible to the end. Then without rotating the 2x2, slide down 27 1/2" and cut. This is one leg. Simply slide the 2x2 down another 27 1/2" and cut again. This is another leg. Continue until you have all four legs.

Once you have all four legs, position as the legs would be on the stool. Mark inside corners. Trust me - once you start building, it will be difficult to judge which way the leg angles go.

Step 2

As noted earlier, this plan is designed for Kreg Jig users, but if you do not own a pocket hole jig, no worries, the bench height plan has the step by step on how to put together this stool with countersunk screws.

The stretchers are a little tricky because the distance they are measured up is from the floor, not up the side of the angled leg. The best way to do this is to position legs against a flat square edge. Elevate the stretcher on perhaps a piece of 3/8" plywood. Then adjust until the distance between base and bottom of stretcher is correct. Then attach. Take your time here, being off can result in a crooked stool.

Step 3

Now it will even get a little trickier because you are working with a 3D project. Just take your time and get it right.

Step 4

Mark the bottom edge of the seat underside as shown in diagram and attach the seat.

Step 5

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Project Type



Thu, 02/16/2012 - 11:17

One more plan added to my to-do list. The first time I saw the shorter version of this stool, I thought that would make a great looking bar stool.

Rachel Barney (not verified)

Thu, 02/16/2012 - 12:04


This bar stool is gorgeous. My mom just bought new stools, and I have to say these are much nicer than hers, and a fraction of the cost. Thanks for the great project, keep the ideas coming!


Thu, 02/16/2012 - 13:05


Your tutorials & plans are a great blessing to others, you are doing what you were meant to be doing! Thank you so much, you are a great inspiration to me also! Just got my Kreg jig in the mail, can't wait to get building!!

Tom Killian (not verified)

Thu, 02/16/2012 - 15:59

I don't see why you use pocket screws and false caps when a through-tenon would be so much stronger and not have the unsightly pocket screws. You should be proud of your joinery and show off your craftsmanship by making true mortise and through-tenon joinery. It looks no better than a store-bought Ikea stool. It will also not stand the test of time.

Molly (not verified)

Thu, 02/16/2012 - 20:01

Speaking only for myself, I'm an amateur builder. I don't know how to do a through-tenon or true mortise, and if they require special equipment, I don't have it. That's why I use pocket screws. I can do it. I never took shop class, but thanks to Ana's site, I've gained confidence and experience. And where I live, we don't have an Ikea. If I can build it instead of buy it, I'm going to do it.

Tom Killian (not verified)

Thu, 02/16/2012 - 16:05

I don't see why you use pocket screws and false caps when a through-tenon would be so much stronger and not have the unsightly pocket screws. You should be proud of your joinery and show off your craftsmanship by making true mortise and through-tenon joinery. It looks no better than a store-bought Ikea stool. It will also not stand the test of time.

In reply to by Tom Killian (not verified)


Fri, 02/17/2012 - 02:31

Ana does us a wonderful service by providing plans for free. She provides basic techniques for the novice but the more advanced are free to use advanced techniques. Mortise and tenon joinery is just that, more advanced. So if you have that knowledge, use it, but please don't put down her efforts for those of us just beginning. If it wasn't for her, a lot of us would never have gotten into woodworking in the first place.


Tue, 02/21/2012 - 06:33

Well, not a lot. I managed to mill the stock for the tutorial, but I spent my entire weekend gluing up panels for a very behind customer project.

Fair warning that this is going to be a hand-tool tutorial. That's because machines to do this are expensive and for a small project take too much time. Fortunately the hand tools to do this are cheap, even if you have to mail order some of them.


Fri, 02/17/2012 - 09:35

Thanks for the plan I love it. I just bought a house that has a large bar downstairs and need 8 stools. That was more on stools then I wanted to pay and couldn't find good quality ones for less then $200 each. I ordered my Kreg Jig just waited for it to arrive but I wanted to ask do you use Kreg Jig screws or just any pocket hole screw.
Thanks again for all the plans I have a long list of things to complete.

In reply to by stcurry

Lady Goats

Fri, 02/17/2012 - 09:51

Any pocket hole screws will do, but there generally isn't much of a price difference between the Kreg brand and other brands (at least at my local home improvement stores). Just make sure you get the right screw for your material (course, fine, and the right size). Hope this helps! :-)

5 tator tots (not verified)

Fri, 02/17/2012 - 09:53

You almost make me feel guilty for enjoying the warmest winter that I can remember here in Minnesota! In fact, this is the first year that I haven't heard some radio announcer pointing out that "its warmer in Alaska than in Minnesota today..." I've never known anything but harsh winters on the prairie, so I know how it can drag a girl down. I've often wondered how Alaskans make it without even the gray skies that we have here.

I just want to let you know that your plans, like this barstool, make it possible for us to have furniture despite our limited budget. In fact your plans for storage (mudroom cubbies, children's bedrooms, media consoles, etc.) our family of 7-soon to be 8- would never last in a house this small. Thank you Ana!!

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