I think out of everything in my office the two things that have made the biggest difference as far as how my office ( and home) function are the shelves and this bench. We had a shoe storage problem. We have tried the basket approach, but that has major flaws. I was constantly digging through the whole thing to find my shoe’s mate, they got scratched up and dirty, and I never had a great place to put the basket. It always seemed like we were tripping over it, too. We had tried drawers, closets, and the things that hang on the back of the door with pockets. I have never been happy with those options. We are a “take your shoes off when you come in” kind of family. Plus our bedrooms are downstairs so hauling them to our closets was a pain. So far this bench has been amazing. The office door is directly across from the door that we use to go in and out of the house. The boys come home, take off their shoes, and go put them away. We have not had any lost shoes! I have not tripped over any shoes either. It is a small miracle.
I hope this tutorial makes sense. I do not use drawn up plans when I build furniture. I picture it in my head how I want it and then sketch it out on paper. I just make it up. I am very visual and love seeing actual pictures of the steps. I know I should probably learn to use sketch up or something, but this works for me and I hope you will understand, too :)
I bought all the lumber for this project at Home Depot. I think I made a few dozen trips there while doing my office :)
I was trying to do this as cheap as possible with out sacrificing quality. The top and sides are pine boards and the shelf, back, and bottom are sanded plywood. The trim is also pine. Be very picky when buying lumber. Spend the extra time looking through all the pieces and make sure they are flat, smooth, and not at all warped. The shape of your wood can make or break a project.
I used a jigsaw, a miter saw, a level, a brad nail gun (air compressor) and a little wood glue to build my furniture.
Lets talk structure. This picture is of the bench standing up on its side. I hope the labels of ” top” and ” bottom” help. If I would have put the side piece over top of the top and bottom it would have been seamless when looking at it from the side. The side piece would have covered up the top and bottom piece, but structurally it would have been weak. By sandwiching it in between the top and bottom it is stronger. When you sit on it, the side piece is held in there. If I had nailed it the other way there would have been nothing under the top piece to hold the weight.
I am sure you noticed the 1″ by 1″ pieces in the corners. They add strength as well and help make sure the corners are square. I nailed the side piece to the top of the bench first then nailed the 1×1 in the corners before adding the bottom board on.
To add a shelf, you need something for it to rest on, something to support the weight. I used 1×2. I measured where the halfway point was and drew a line. I nailed the 1×2 with the top of the 1×2 on the line. My “half way line” is actually one inch lower than halfway. I did that because the shelf itself is one inch thick. When you lay the shelf on the 1×2 supports, then the top of the shelf will be at the true halfway point.
So the basic shell is not all that attractive. Here comes the trim! I used 1×2. Again, look for the best wood. You can buy rough cut (not sanded down) or the nice and perfectly smooth 1×2. It is worth the extra $ to get the nicer 1×2.
So I have now added 1×2 to the front of the bench to hide all the seams and the 1×1 in the corners. Now for the sides…..
I didn’t want to use 1×2 here because it would have stuck out too far and created a deep ledge. So I bought what is called lattice trim. It is about 1/8 of an inch by 1 1/2 inches. I framed out the sides to hide all the seams. It gives it such a finished look!
For added support I put two pieces of wood down the center of the inside of the bench. I could have done one piece down the center and then 2 shelves on either side of it, but this worked as well. I decided to do it this way based on the board sizes I had on hand.
This is a blurry picture, but what I wanted to show here was a little trick I learned. When you need to nail along the top or side of something, instead of guessing where to nail and hope that you don’t have a few strays that go through in the wrong spot, draw a line.
I added the back to finish of the actual bench and then moved on to the doors. I apologize for not having any pictures. It was at this point that I had a “my kitchen has been covered in saw dust for weeks and I need to just get this done” melt down. I was in gitter done mode and not tutorial mode.
But they were easy. I waited until the shell was made before I even took measurements. I figured out how big they had to be and cut them. I wanted to use the same hinges as my kitchen cabinets and for that I needed a circle cut out of the inside. I do not have a drill press which would have been ideal so I used a bore bit. The down side was that the pointed part went all the way through the board. I was okay with this because I knew I would be adding trim that would hide it. Using Spade Drill Bit (affiliate), drill down just deep enough for the hinge to set down in. Don’t drill all the way through.
I added the same lattice trim to the doors as I did to the sides in the same framed-out way.
After building something I always use sandable, paintable, stainable putty to fill in the nail holes or any small gaps. I wait for it to dry and then sand the whole thing smooth. Then wipe it with a damp rag to get the dust off before staining or painting. I wanted the bench to have a dark espresso finish like I did on my desk so I used Minwax Gel Stain in WALNUT.
I do not brush it on and them wipe it off like it suggests on the can. I brush a thin coat on with a FOAM BRUSH and let it dry the required time and then brush on another layer. This bench has 3 coats of stain. Then I sealed it with Minwax Wipe-On Poly. I LOVE that stuff. It is so easy to apply and it doesn’t smell nearly as strong as regular polyurethane. It also dries incredibly fast. I used the satin finish.
*Please feel free to email if you have any questions. It always seems I leave out something in a tutorial. I blame the late hours :)
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