Project Overview

Create a fun play area for your kids with these wooden puzzle stools. All you need is some basic materials and a bit of know-how. Put them in a bedroom, the lounge room or anywhere they like to play.

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Remove excess paint

When you’re painting it’s a good idea to carry a damp cloth with you to wipe up any excess paint before it dries. Removing the excess paint means you are always painting onto a clean, flat surface instead of rough edges or lumps. That way you end up with a smooth, consistent finish.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Create your template
2 Cut out the puzzle piece
3 Smooth edges with sandpaper
4 Mark holes on MDF
5 Drill holes
6 Join the ply to the MDF
7 Cut out the ply
8 Measure and cut the legs
9 Sand the legs
10 Mark and pre-drill the holes in the legs
11 Attach the legs to the stool
12 Putty and sand the stool
13 Paint the stool
14 Find a home for your stools
  • Step 1. Create your template

    First up you’ll need a template for the puzzle stool. You can create your own or you can download the one we’ve used from the Bunnings website. Our template measured 300mm x 375mm. Place the template on the MDF and trace around it with a pencil.

  • Step 2. Cut out the puzzle piece

    Clamp the MDF to the workbench and put on your safety equipment. Then use the jigsaw to cut out the puzzle. You will need to keep moving the MDF so you don’t cut into the workbench. Cut the MDF to a more manageable size and clamp this smaller piece to the workbench to continue cutting with the jigsaw. 

  • Step 3. Smooth edges with sandpaper

    Once you’ve finished cutting out the puzzle piece, sand off the rough edges with 180 grit sandpaper.

  • Step 4. Mark holes on MDF

    Take your MDF template and mark four screw locations, 50mm in from the ends. These will be where your legs are fitted but for now we’re going to use them to screw the MDF to our ply. 

  • Step 5. Drill holes

    Clamp the MDF to the workbench. Use the drill to pre-drill four holes through the MDF with the 6mm bit. 

  • Step 6. Join the ply to the MDF

    Place the MDF on top of the ply and drill through the four holes and into the ply. Place the MDF under the ply, so that the edges are flush. Screw the ply and MDF together with the drill and four screws. 

  • Step 7. Cut out the ply

    Put on your safety equipment. Use the router to cut around the template. We’re using a 50mm long 0.5 inch diameter flush trim bit, which is perfect for cutting around this job. When you’re cutting out bigger sections of ply, take them out in small sections. If you’re not comfortable using a router, trace the outline of the template onto the top of the ply with a pencil, so that you can see exactly where the router is going. Once you’ve routed around the MDF template, remove the screws so that you’re left with the ply stool top.

  • Step 8. Measure and cut the legs

    Our legs are made from Tasmanian oak dowel. Measure and mark the length of the legs on the dowel. Ours are 260mm, but you can make yours any length you like.  Put on your safety equipment and use the drop saw to cut the dowel to size for the four legs. 

  • Step 9. Sand the legs

    Give the legs a light sand to get rid of the rough edges with 120 grit sandpaper.

  • Step 10. Mark and pre-drill the holes in the legs

    Mark the centre of the four pieces of dowel. Clamp one to the workbench and pre-drill the hole. Repeat this for the other legs. Countersink the holes in the top of the stool so that the screws sit flush.

  • Step 11. Attach the legs to the stool

    Next, it’s time to attach the legs to the stool with the 75mm bugle screws. A handy tip is to drill the screw until it just comes through the plywood. Align the hole in the dowel with the screw and tighten. 

  • Step 12. Putty and sand the stool

    Use a suitable coloured putty to fill in all of the screw holes. Wait for the putty to dry and lightly sand the stool back.

  • Step 13. Paint the stool

    Now it’s time to get creative. Paint the stool in the colour of your choice, you can even ask the kids to help you. 

  • Step 14. Find a home for your stools

    You can make as many as you like and even connect them together like a jigsaw puzzle to make a table.

Tools and Materials


  • Jigsaw
  • Clamp
  • Cordless drill with bugle bit and screwdriver bits
  • 5mm drill bit
  • 6mm drill bit
  • Dust mask
  • Earmuffs
  • Measuring tape
  • Paint brush
  • Paint opener
  • Pencil
  • Router with 50mm flush trim bit
  • Safety glasses
  • Stirrer


  • 30mm x 450 x 350mm ply
  • 900mm x 600mm x 16mm MDF project panel
  • 450mm x 350mm x 16mm MDF project panel
  • 30mm hardwood dowel x 4
  • 75mm bugle bolts
  • Paint or varnish
  • 120 and 180 grit sandpaper

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