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Footstool Upcycle – Update 2: More Prep Ideas

This post is part of a series documenting a creative upcycling challenge to update an old footstool with a new punctured bicycle inner tube top. See all posts here.


I tried sanding all those tricky places on the footstool the palm sander couldn’t reach by hand (see my last post for more info). How did it go? Well at least I got to spend an hour out in the sunshine.

While I did make some progress, I decided I would have to take it apart if I was ever going to make that new top this month/year/ever. The alternative was painting, which I wasn’t happy doing. I really love the look of woodgrain, and think it’ll look great against the black of the inner tube.

Thankfully some of the joints were loose so I was able to use my workmate to gently pry it apart.

First steps in disassembly

And then further prying and cajoling did the rest (including clamping it in the workmate, sitting astride the workmate, and manually encouraging those last stubbon bits out). At one point, one cross piece came out suddenly and I hit myself on the forehead with it. I think the cut has finally healed. Don’t let anyone tell you upcycling, or crafting for that matter, is without risk!

In the end I was able to fully take it to bits, which showed me it had been stained and varnished before assembly.

So, in a way, it was good I took it apart. Not only was I able to do a decent job sanding, but I also fell back in love with the piece – which I talk a bit more about in a reel I posted on Instagram.

Here are some beauty shots of the sanded wood:

At this point though I set it aside for a few days to focus on the Indie Roller Bundle event, as well as other personal projects. Last night I finally started polishing. I love how much warmer the wood gets with even one coat of oil.

Plain (L) and One coat of oil (R)

I’m using a natural polish containing linseed oil and beeswax, which I originally bought it to help protect my upcycled wooden earrings. The thing is… it absolutely reeks of boiled linseed oil, which isn’t particularly pleasant. The smell fades (or you go nose blind), but it’s still better to use it on furniture than anything I hope to sell.

The instructions tell me to wait 24 hrs between coats, so it’ll be a few days before I’m able to go any further.

In the meantime I’ve been thinking about what I’ll do with the top once the frame is reassembled.


I have a few ideas in mind, but before we get to them, here are some ideas I bandied about but ultimately decided against. They may work for someone else, though, so I thought it worth sharing:

This tutorial from Design Sponge is great, but would involve buying in tacks (which I don’t have).

I’d also hate to hammer/staple anything into the frame if I don’t have to, as it hasn’t had any in the past.

And as anyone who’s had a blowout knows, a puncture can easily become a tear with an inner tube. The weave is going to be under a decent amount of tension when it’s finished – just asking for it to tear!

If I must, I will, but it’ll be a last option.

This tutorial on ehow goes through recreating a traditional rush seat. When I first got the chair I attempted something similar with inner tubes, but quickly realised it wouldn’t work. It’s designed for something you have very long lengths of, and inner tubes are under 2m long.

So sadly this won’t work for me either.

This Danish footstool I spotted on Etsy (sold out) is probably closer to the look I’ll end up with- at least with the spacing between the lattice strips.

It’s secured with staples, but I’m as with my first example I’d like to avoid those. I’m hoping to use the inherent grippy-ness of the inner tube to hold itself in place.

My Plan

Ultimately I hope to end up with something similar to the last example above, as I said, but without any wood visible on the cross bars.

What I think I’ll do is…

  • …wrap the cross bars with inner tube strips, similar to what I use when making my baskets, tucking the ends under the wrap.
  • Then I’ll arrange the tubes as they’ll be woven on one short and one long side of my frame.
  • Wrap again with strips to secure – maybe in some kind of decorative pattern?
  • Weave the footstool top.
  • Repeat the securing process on the other sides once the weave is done.

Hopefully the inner tube strip sandwich will keep the footstool top in place. The second lot of securing it will be a little trickier as it’ll be under pressure, but with some clamps to keep the tension as I go along the line, it might work?

My backup idea is to feed something sturdy inside the inner tubes to take the pressure and eliminate the inner tube stretch…though that might defeat the point of the upcycle. I haven’t decided. Let’s hope my original plan works instead!

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