How to Shorten a Barstool

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Learn how to shorten a barstool the quick and easy way! This simple technique works on straight-leg and curved-leg barstools.

How to Shorten a Barstool -

Okay, look, I know this isn’t the most pressing concern for everyone, but it is a handy trick, and I’ll wager someone out there will benefit from it!

Or maybe it is a pressing concern?

Maybe you’re all lying awake at night, counting spiders on the ceiling and wondering just how it’s done?

How on earth do I shorten a barstool? Especially a barstool with curved legs? 

Should you use an axe? Four good swings oughta do it, right?

Or maybe a chainsaw? You’ve seen those guys who carve bears and eagles out of logs with a chainsaw…how hard could it be?

Oooh! I know! A trained beaver! Everyone knows beavers love nothing more than a tasty wood snack, so maybe you could coax one into nibbling on your barstool legs?

But maybe you’re not thinking that at all. Maybe you’re wondering why anyone in their right mind would want to unleash a beaver on a barstool?

Well, I’ll tell you why. Our old house had a bar-height kitchen “island.” I put the word in quotes, because it wasn’t really an island.

It was more of a peninsula. Like Florida!

Anyway our kitchen peninsula was bar height, which you’ll recall is taller than counter height. So when we wanted to double our stools from two to four, we naturally bought bar-height barstools.

But in our new home, with its new kitchen, we now have a counter-height island (no more peninsula), and those barstools we bought in Connecticut just didn’t fit. Trying to use those stools with our new island gave the same feel as trying to sit at a grammar school table as an adult. You can see in the picture below that thighs and kneecaps would be in grave danger should you decide to pull up too close to the island.

How to Shorten a Barstool -

The obvious solution was to go out and buy two new barstools. I mean, we already just blew a wad of money on the whole kitchen remodel. What’s another two stools compared to that, amirite?

I made this same argument to Handan. I had plastic in my pocket, and I was ready to put it to use! (Isn’t that the American way?)

But that’s not how my babes operates! My babes is frugal whenever possible. My babes does not look kindly on waste, and buying two new stools when we already owned two (newish) ones was the very embodiment of waste!

The barstools stayed!

But they needed to be modified. They needed to be shortened. My babes produced a tape measure and moments later proclaimed that I would be trimming 3 inches from each stool.

So as my dream of owning two fancy new counter-height barstools evaporated into the muggy Georgia air, I set myself to figuring out just how the hell I was going to chop these bar-height stools down to size without turning them into unbalanced, awkward messes.

The problem was that the legs were curved – they flared out at the ends – so it wasn’t as simple as making a cut perpendicular to the legs, as I might have done if the legs were straight.

I assured my babes I’d get it done, though in truth, I had no idea how I’d be doing it. Still, I carried one to the basement and told her not to worry – it’d be done in a jiffy (I hoped).

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Once I had the stool up on a workbench, the solution came to me. To make a flat cut across a curved leg required a simple jig, so I got some scrap wood and super glue and assembled one in about 5 minutes.

jig for cutting barstool legs

I trimmed a piece of scrap 2 x 4 to 3 inches wide and then cut it into 3 pieces. Next, I glued the pieces to resemble the symbol π. The spacing of the legs of π is equal to the width of the barstool leg, as shown in the picture below.

jig for cutting barstool legs

This created a flat and secure platform upon which I could rest the blade of a flush cut saw.

I had bought this saw back in the old house when Handan and I installed laminate flooring in our new craft room to replace the carpet that had been there before. I used it to trim the bottoms of the door trim so we could install the new flooring underneath it.

cutting trim with a flush cut saw

The saw is designed to cut flush and straight – perfect for shortening barstool legs! It just needs a flat surface to rest on, and that’s what the jig was for.

The first cut is always the scariest, but what the heck – my plan was good!

cutting barstool legs

So far, so good!

how to shorten barstool legs

Before I cut through the leg, Handan told me to stop.

“What? Why? I’m on a roll, woman!” Yeesh, don’t pester a man when he’s a-sawin’!

“If you cut all the way through, it will make tearout in the front of the leg,” she said.

I eyeballed my workmanship and mumbled something to the effect that perhaps maybe she might be onto something.

So I pulled the saw out and started from the opposite side, so the cut completed inside the leg. My babes was right – If I had sawed all the way through the leg, the saw’s teeth would have created a splintered mess upon exiting the leg.

It’s always better to have my babes around when I’m doing important work – she catches my mistakes before they happen!

using a flush cut saw on a barstool leg

By sawing in from two directions, I cut the leg cleanly, with no tearout.

using a flush cut saw on a barstool leg

Once the leg was shortened, I needed to prop that leg up while working on the others. I cut more scraps of 2 x 4 to 3 inches and glued them together to make supports for the cut legs.

how to shorten stool legs

Too late, I realized that cutting the supports to be 3 inches was a mistake, as I didn’t take into account the thickness of the flush cut saw blade. I should have made the supports 3 inches plus the thickness of the blade. Instead of making new supports, I just folded up some scrap cardboard to make up the difference.

how to shorten stool legs
how to shorten stool legs

I carried on with the second leg in the same manner as the first.

how to shorten stool legs

Last leg, and everything was going according to plan. I did have Handan helping me throughout this project by holding the barstool while I cut. Teamwork makes every project easier and more fun!

how to shorten stool legs

Another shot of the last leg…

how to shorten stool legs

After shortening the barstool, I took it back upstairs to compare it with its leggy sibling. Success! The flared legs sat flat against the floor!

How to Shorten a Barstool -

Nervous Nellie kept a watchful eye on Daddy while he worked.

How to Shorten a Barstool -

Our “new” barstools are perfect for the island, and I’m really glad Handan made us keep them. I think they look great in our new kitchen!

How to Shorten a Barstool -

Okay, so my babes is the biggest “Noticing Nancy” of them all. After we published this post, she was reading it again, and her eagle eyes zeroed in on a small tuft of dog hair caught on the bottom corner of one of the legs.

“They’re going to think you didn’t make a straight cut,” she said.

I peered at the photo, seeing nothing until she pointed out the offending tuft. I was about to tell her that no one on earth was going to see that…then I remembered all of our Detail Debbies, Astute Astrids, Looky-Looky Lucies and yes, Noticing Nancies from previous posts, and agreed she might be right.

So, lemme beat you to the punch: it’s dog hair, for crying out loud! ?

How to Shorten a Barstool -
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  1. Isn’t it Great when a couple easy steps solves a problem. Don’t forget some sort of padding on the bottom of the legs. You don’t want to scrape your beautiful flooring.

    1. Hi Michelle, no you didn’t miss them, but we must have forgotten to give the link to them in our Kitchen Remodel post. Here is the link to our barstools:
      I’m also updating our Kitchen Remodel post with the same link in case you’ll be looking for it in the future.

  2. Your handiwork looks great! Love the euphemisms ??(Nancy’s, Lucy’s etc…) Hubby’s in the process of installing wood floor down our hallway. He took all the trim off the doors so he could cut the bottoms. Where was this post a week ago? LOL Need to have that flush cut saw in my stash! Ordering it right now!!

    1. Oh no, lol! Isn’t that the worst, when an easy solution presents itself just after you finish? Well, at least you’ll have it for next time!

  3. I feel your pain on the dog hair. I have 3 inside dogs, one of which is a golden retriever. First off let me say I must be oblivious to the sight of dog hair because I didn’t see. Second, I just consider dog hair part of the decor. I run a robot vac constantly and dog hair is still around. If you can’t beat it you must embrace it! ?

    1. I’m with you, Stacye – I rarely see it anymore. Handan, on the other hand? We manage it pretty well with weekly cleanings, but Penny sheds a full dog each month, so it’s hard to keep up, lol!

  4. Dog hair or not, it might be good to do some mild sanding, staining and installing felt pads on the new cuts so your gorgeous floor doesn’t get scraped up!

    Also, and by the way, you often use “madam” in your stories. You do realize that guys read this, too, right??? (my hubs does sometimes). I’m sure blogs like this attract the ladies, but don’t forget the men!

    I personally started following you way back when you were going bonkers by building and re-building furniture. Oh how I loved your desk, your dining room table, your outdoor furniture, your scrap wood art project….. sigh. More please…..

    1. Hi Karen, we did put felt pads! Every single thing in the house that touches the floor has felt pads, lol! No staining or sanding though. I know there are a few guys reading here and there, but I pander to my majority! 😀
      Don’t worry, a furniture build is coming up soon. We’re not doing it as much anymore because, well, there’s no room to put anything anymore! We’re full, lol!

  5. Oh my goodness, I have the exact same problem with the barstools I bought for my kitchen island except my brother (who’s an amazing handyman) assured me, there was no way to shorten the legs because they flair out. Ha! wait till I show him this post. Better yet, wait till I shorten the legs myself THEN show him. I can’t wait to work on this. Thanks so much Greg & wish me luck 😉

  6. The barstools look awesome and I went through the pictures 3 times still cant see any dog hair. I made Handans tacos tonight. They were a HUGE success. Had a little issue with the labneh. I mixed the yogurt with a little cream cheese, it was delicious. I never had the real thing so I cant copare it to the real thing. I also made the rice pudding it was a creamy dream. I think everyone should try the tacos and the pudding you wont be disappointed.


  7. I was gifted two beautiful bar stools from a friend and lo and behold, I lie awake thinking how do I trim them to be the right height for my kitchen island. Now I know! Thanks! Going to get to work!

  8. Gregs tacos Handans tacos, you can call them anything you want because they are that good. I made the turkish rice udding YUMYUMYUM!!!!!!

  9. We constantly have cat hair on the bottom of our stools, so I didn’t even think about it, lol. And I was worrying about the felt pads too, so glad you didn’t skip that step!

  10. I actually have some stools that I want to shorten and make them kid sized so this is a perfect solution! Thanks for putting this out here it will help tremendously!