This project uses a 5-gallon bucket to make a two-part stool with lid. It’s a relatively easy project to complete, requiring only basic hand tools and inexpensive forming materials. The result is a versatile side table, storage container, stool, or planter that works indoors or out. Add decorative aggregate to the lid and polish the top for a unique look. Most of the form can be cleaned up and re-used, so it’s possible to make a set without wasting a lot of material.
What You’ll Need
7/16″ Drill Bit
100% Door and Window Silicone Caulk
File / Rasp
Sandpaper (60,100,220 grit)
Wheel Barrow or Bucket
Mixing Shovel / Hoe / Trowel
What You’ll Need
Alpha Diamond Hand Polishing Pads (Set of 7)
CHENG Concrete Countertop Sealer
5-Gallon Buckets (2)
1-1/4″ Drywall Screws
Styrofoam, 2″ thick
3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive
Clear Packing Tape
8″ Concrete Form Tube
5000 psi. Concrete Mix
CHENG Outdoor Pro-Formula
Step 1 – Construct Lid Form
Saw the rim off of a 5-gallon bucket with a hand saw, 2-3 inches below the top edge. This will determine the thickness of the finished concrete.
Put the top of the bucket on the baseboard (rim facing up) and surround it with the support blocks (3-1/2″ x 4″). Pre-drill and screw supports in place through the baseboard using 1-1/2″ screws.
Step 2 – Seal the Form
Caulk the inside edge to make the form water-tight. Allow the silicone to fully cure and then remove the excess.
Cut a ring out of 3/4″ melamine-coated particle board with a jigsaw. The ring should fit tightly and needs to be close in size to the inside diameter of the rim. Slide the ring down into the bucket section until it’s flush with the rim.
Tape over any exposed wood with clear packing tape.
A quarter section of a rubber bouncy-ball is used to create a knockout for easier lifting of the lid. Adhere this to the ring with contact cement or spray adhesive.
Step 4 – Final Lid-Forming Steps
Slide the ring down into the rim of the bucket.
Install small wood blocks over the top of the rim to hold it down during casting.
Clean out the form and place any decorative inlays or aggregate in the form. Check out the Decorative Details Section for more creative ideas.
Step 5 – Construct Main Form
Measure 1/2″ up the side from the bottom of the bucket and wrap tape around the bucket to use as a guide. Cut off the bottom of the bucket using a hand saw. Sand the edge and clean out plastic shavings from the bucket.
Cut a 13″-long section of a concrete form tube 8″ in diameter. One end is capped with the 2″ foam disc, the other with a 3/4″ disc of plywood. These should fit tightly into the tube.
Step 6 – Baseboard and Knockout
Cut the baseboard from 3/4″ melamine-coated particle board. It should be larger than the bucket (13″ x 13″). Find the center point by connecting the corners with diagonal pencil lines. If you use plywood, cover it with clear packing tape so water doesn’t get sucked out of the concrete.
Center the knockout on the baseboard, pre-drill and screw it in place from the bottom. You should be screwing into the plywood disc that is the cap on one end of the form tube. Install the four support blocks and hook the remaining four wood pieces over the rim and screw in place.
Step 7 – Complete the Base
Silicone the outside edge where the bucket meets the base to make the form water-tight. Allow to cure.
Step 8 – Concrete Mixing
Wear rubber gloves and a particle mask when mixing.
Consult the Concrete Mixing Section for tips on mixing a batch of concrete. This project takes about 60-70 lbs. of sacked concrete mix.
This project uses CHENG Outdoor Pro-Formula mix and 5000 psi. concrete mix for added strength and resistance to outdoor elements.
Step 9 – Fill the Form
Try to fill evenly around the knockout, pushing handfuls of concrete between the knockout and the form wall.
Vibrate the concrete by drop compaction (picking up one edge of the form and dropping it down on the table repeatedly).
Vigorously tap the walls of the form to help drive air to the surface.
Screed flat with a trowel or straight edge.
Cover and cure:
Place on a flat and even surface and cover with painter’s plastic.
Allow to cure for 4 full days before demolding.
Step 10 – Demold the Base
Tilt the bucket on its side and remove the screws that hold the side supports.
Remove the bucket from the baseboard.
Step 11 – Demold the Base
Remove the tape around the form and roughly clean up the edges with diamond hand pads.
Use a wood block under the rim of the bucket to force the bucket up and off of the concrete.
Step 12 – Remove the Disc and Knockout
Drill a hole in the disc to help pry it out.
With the disc removed, pull out the concrete form tube.
Step 13 – Remove Knockout
Remove the foam at the bottom of the concrete with a pry bar or flat screwdriver.
Peel away the paper residue left behind by the concrete form tube.
Step 14 – Demold the Lid
Remove top caps and side supports.
Hold the plastic lid and knock the baseboard off by hitting it on the ground to break the silicone seal.
Work the concrete out of the lid gradually.
Step 15 – Demold the Lid
Use a small pry bar, putty knife, or flat-head screwdriver to lift the wood ring off of the concrete. Be careful not to damage the concrete.
Knock down any sharp edges with a diamond hand pad or coarse sharpening stone.
Step 16 – Finish the Concrete
Polish the lid:
Use a variable-speed polisher to grind the top down and expose the aggregate. Check out the Polishing Concrete Guide for tips on exposing the aggregate.