Buffalo Check Stool Makeover for Vignettes and Arrangements

How to Update Vintage Stool with Buffalo Check

This little stool makeover project in buffalo check started as a garage sale find along with two other vintage stools.  The man I purchased them from said he made this little step stool in the 1960s.  He had three of them and I grabbed them all  to use as patterns for new stools to sell locally.  This vintage stool is staying here with me and I am really happy to have it.

How to Make a Vintage stool with DIY silhouette stencil and buffalo check.

The stool is finished in coal black with a buffalo check stenciled top.  It can be used as a single step stool, but I actually want to use it for adding height to various vignettes.

Supplies I Used (Not Affiliate links, links for info only)

Coal Black Fusion Mineral Paint

White  Fusion Mineral Paint

Stencil from the Silhouette Store

Spray on Adhesive

Synthetic paint bristle brushes for the mineral paint

Wood filler (optional)

Sand paper 60, 120, 150 grit

Buffalo Check Stencil

The buffalo check stencil was a challenge to get for a great price,  I saw them for sale up to $45 (CAN) which was three times the cost of my stool.  I solved the problem by making my own using my Silhouette cutting machine.  The pattern cost me $1 at the silhouette store and I used Cricut stencil plastic from Michaels.  The only down side is it took me a full evening while watching TV to weed out all those little slats.

My stencil is 12 by 12 inches, which is enough to cover the width of the step up stool, but not the length.  If you want you can do a 12 by 24, but I chose not to.

The next step is to figure out the correct cut settings.  This took me forever, but to shorten it for you I ended up cutting mine at a thickness of 33.  You may want to fiddle with you machine doing some test cuts, but the 33 is where I ended up.

To weed all those little strips I found it easier to carefully remove the entire stencil from the backing cutting mat first.  Then I worked on each little piece with a toothpick on my lap watching TV.  It was worth the 40 dollar savings to me.

A Buffalo Check Makeover on a small vintage stool

Preparing the Vintage Stool

The stool is handmade so it was never perfect and after 50 plus years of use it was in rough shape.  As I love old things, I could not bring myself to just toss it and make a replica using the pieces as a pattern.

To remove lots of dirt, spiderwebs (shivers) and slivers I began by giving the wood a good sanding with 60 grit sandpaper.

Next it filled in the cracks with wood filler where I wanted and chose to embrace other small cracks as I did not want it solid wood filler.

I then sanded it with 120  grit sandpaper until as smooth as possible.

Vintage wood step up bench before picture

Painting the Vintage Stool

Once sanded it looked much better, although not perfect.

Paint the stool with two coats of coal black fusion paint on all the lower surfaces.  Let the paint dry well between coats, sanding lightly between coats.

Once the black is done, repeat the process on the top  using two coats of white fusion mineral paint.

Applying the Buffalo Check Stencil

With the very fine lines on the stencil its important to reduce the likelihood of bleed through.  To help the process I applied spray adhesive to the back of the stencil before setting in onto the white top of the vintage stool. Also  I did tear a couple little parts of the stencil while weeding, (see the following picture), but the adhesive allowed me to just hold it in place as I painted.

My stencil was not wide enough to cover the entire width  of my little stool.  To make sure the check pattern matched at both ends I began in the middle and worked outwards towards one end.  Remove the stencil when the paint is still wet, make sure the stencil back is clean, and set aside while the paint dries.

Once the paint is dry, match center of the stencil with the painted portion, and work from center to the other end.

Applying a DIY buffalo check stencil to a vintage stool.

I tried two methods of stenciling, using a small sponge and then with a small artist paint brush.  The small paint brush worked much better.

Dip a small paintbrush into the paint, removing the excess onto a paper towel before applying the paint to the wood.  Once the brush is pretty much dry, apply the paint, starting from the outside of the cut square to the middle.  This is challenging, almost impossible for the small slats, but I did it just making sure the paint brush was dry before applying the paint.  Here is a closeup of how the pattern turned out, it is not perfect but it looks really good on the table.

Close up picture of a painted stencil buffalo check pattern on a DIY wood stool makeover.
Adding neight to a Fall display idea using a DIY buffalo check stool.

Adding Height to Vignettes

This little stool will be handy in the pantry, or the bathroom but I want to use it in vignettes.  A couple of years ago when doing  Christmas vignettes I fell in love with a simple white stand; but at $35 I am never going to own more than one.   This fall vignette would look nice with just the white stand. But now I have two stand and the buffalo check one is  not  only  cheaper,  it’s  more  unique.

A Fall vignette display with two different type of decor stands.

You can use stacks of book, tiered trays, and boxes to add height to Fall vignettes.  I really love this DIY buffalo check stand for Fall decorating.  Its an easy way to add buffalo check and a pop of dramatic black to my typically white decorating schemes.

Vintage stool makeover using a DIY buffalo check painted stencil.

Related Posts

This is another simple thrift store stool makeover that I did using black and white Fusion mineral paint.

How to makeover a stool with fusion mineral paint.


  1. Leanna, your buffalo check stool looks awesome.! I love making crafts in buffalo checks, too! Especially in purple! I ordered that stencil – I can’t remember from where, and I know I didn’t pay much for it, but I was a bit disappointed when it arrived.- no directions or anything! I am not a painter, so I immediately said to myself, what type of checks are these and how am I going to do this? Needless to say, it is still sitting in my supplies untouched. And thanks to you, I now know how to use it!

  2. WHAT!!!!! $45 on sale!!!! That’s crazy. Well done for making your own Leanna, and you could custom size it to fit for that adorable little footstool too. What a gorgeous find. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the guys you bought it from could see the love and attention you’ve given it. I bet he’d be super impressed with how it turned out

  3. Oh wow. Great little makeover on the stool. It looks so fresh new and super cute! Pinning for future reference.

  4. BIG kudos to you, Leanna for making your own buffalo check stencil! Impressed the heck out of me and I know you’ll get a lot of use out of it. Pinned to share 🙂 I’m embarrassed to say this but I got a Cricut Maker for Christmas last year and haven’t even turned the thing on. Seeing your post today inspires me to learn how to use this dang machine!

  5. Love, love, love this stencil, Leanna! I was coming here to join your party and had to click over when I saw it. I can’t believe you had to weed all of those pieces! I’m a Cameo owner, so I totally get it. It looks fabulous, though. I hope you’re having a good week! We’d love for you to link up at Tuesday Turn About if you haven’t already.

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