Do-it-Yourself Wood Toilet Seat

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You'll need two wide slices of hardwood for this project.
You'll need two wide slices of hardwood for this project. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Building your own wood toilet seat might turn out to be more expensive than just purchasing one at the local hardware store. If you’ve just lost an oak or maple tree, however, and you can afford the best hardware, you can create a stylish seat for the “necessary,” the name ascribed to Colonial commodes. You can also take pride in your own craftsmanship and the fact that you’ve recycled wood from a noble American hardwood tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • 2 pieces of hardwood, each at least 1 inch thick
  • Set of seat hinges with flanges and screws
  • 2 toilet seat hinge bolts with nuts
  • Toilet seat bumper set
  • Wood clamps
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Hand sander or router with bevel bit
  • Medium and fine grit sandpaper
  • Wood sealer
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean rags or tack cloth
  • Paintbrushes
  • Polyurethane finish

Clamp two pieces of 1-inch-thick hardwood together. The grain should travel along the length, not width of each piece. Seat pieces for round toilets should measure 17 to 17.5 inches long; elongated seats should measure 19 to 19.5 inches long. Both types require 16 inches of width.

Lay your boards on the commode with one end of the length overlapping the two bolt holes on the bowl by 1/2 inch. The other end should cover the opposite end of the bowl.

Scribe the outline of the bowl rim on the bottom of the stacked lid pieces. Turn the wood over and draw an oval 1/4 inch outside the scribed outline. One end will be flat for the mounting hardware. Move your wood clamps to the flat end for ease in cutting.

Trim away the excess wood around the oval with a jigsaw. Bevel or round the outside edges, including the mounting end, with a power sander or hand router while the seat parts are clamped together. This way, the outside edges of the seat and lid will match.

Remove the clamp and scribe an inner oval on the seat by connecting a series of dots made 4 inches in from the outer edge of the seat. Extend the inner oval around the mounting end, too, leaving a depth of no less than 4 inches at the center of the curve. Start a hole for your jigsaw with a large bit in a power drill and cut out the center oval. Bevel or sand this edge, too.

Sand all surfaces smooth with fine grit sandpaper. Spray the surfaces lightly with a little water and rub with a lint-free cloth or tack cloth to set the grain back down.

Rub wood sealer on the wood with a clean cloth to seal the grain. Allow the sealer to dry according to the directions on the package before finishing the wood. Brush or spray three light coats of polyurethane finish on the wood, sanding lightly and rubbing clean between each coat.

Pre-drill pilot holes -- small 'starter' holes -- for the screws that attach the mounting plates. Screw the mounting plates of the hinges to each piece along the flat end to join the seat and lid. Standard hinges bolt through the bowl 5.5 inches on center. Hinges with a connecting axle are pre-spaced, but place single hinges without a spacer so each mounting flange falls 2.5 inches to the side of the center of the mounting end of the seat.

Tap the bumpers into the bottom of the seat and lid with a hammer. Pass the bolts through the flanges and holes in the deck at the back of the bowl. Tighten the nuts underneath by hand and tighten the bolt carefully by turning it on top with a screwdriver only until the bolt is firm.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use brass or chrome-finished hinge assemblies rather than plastic hinges or individual hinges to add strength and save time in placing the hinges. Hinge and bumper kits include templates or measurement instructions.
  • Use a table jig -- or borrow a neighbor’s -- to cut even shapes, or clamp the wood securely while cutting.
  • The finished size of a round toilet seat should be16.5 inches down the center and 15.75 inches across at its widest point. An elongated seat measures 18.5 inches long and 15.75 inches wide.
  • Sand and rout edges carefully. Measurements given for the raw materials allow for the loss of wood in rounding the tops of each edge but provide only about 1/2 inch extra around the bases.
  • Wear eye protection when using power tools or tightening bolts on the bowl deck.
  • Hardwoods and vitreous toilet bowls are both hard, brittle materials. Use sharp hardwood saw blades and drill bits, and pre-drill the screw holes to avoid splitting the wood. Do not over-tighten nuts on mounting bolts to avoid cracking the bowl deck.

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