Well, after several weeks away I’m finally writing a new post. I went on vacation with my wife to beautiful Connecticut this year. If you get a chance to go it is definitely worth it. The state has a little bit of everything: forests, beaches, cities, small towns, and lots of woodworking history. I might write a post about our trip at some point but for now it’s back to work!
This week’s project is actually something I did a while back. My wife told me that she wanted a bench to put in our front entryway that would also serve as shoe storage. I decided to build one from scratch so that it would be exactly what we wanted.
Making the Box
I started by making a simple box out of 3/4″ plywood. The plywood I used was not the super high-end material but I knew I was going to paint it anyway so the look of the wood faces wasn’t that important to me. I planned out my bench so that I could make it out of one sheet of plywood and I had the cuts planned so that when I bought the wood from the box store they could cut it into mangable chunks for me. If you don’t have a table saw, as I didn’t until a few weeks ago, this is a good way to help make sure the cuts and edges are pretty straight. It is much easier to let the box store cut it with their saw than to struggle with a straight edge and a circular saw in your garage.
Obviously when you create your box make sure you leave the front open, since this will be where the shelves and shoes are. I also made my bench slightly too tall and too deep. If I make another one I will make it a little smaller.
Put in the Vertical Dividers
Next I installed the two vertical dividers that the shelves would sit in. I designed the bench so that most of the support would be in the middle, since I anticipated we would sit in the middle most of the time to put on our shoes. Also, I left a little space between the end of the dividers and the front edge of the bench in case I wanted to add doors later. (Doors weren’t in my original plan but now my wife would like me to add them, so good thing!)
One tip for setting up the vertical inside pieces: use a spacer to keep the back parallel to the sides. Otherwise it’s really easy to get the board in there slightly crooked and have to cut your shelves at an angle.
I drilled holes in the sides of the vertical boards to put shelf pins in, like you would find in a bookshelf from a store like Walmart or IKEA. I drilled several holes for the shelf in the center so it could be adjusted up or down. I used the “measure and whole bunch and get it as close as you can” method to line up the holes but I have since discovered a few better ways. Lately when I need to drill consecutive holes a certain distance apart, I have used a piece of leftover pegboard from my entertainment center project. The holes are evenly spaced so it makes it easy to set up. The Kreg Tool Company also makes a pretty cool jig that is designed specifically for drilling several holes for shelf pins.
Then I measured the spaces and cut my shelves to fit, leaving enough space for them to slide out if I wanted.
Iron On the Edge Banding
After I dry fit everything, I went back and used the pre-glued iron-on edge banding to hide the layered ends of the plywood. I used it on any edges that were exposed, including the shelves and the back even though likely no one would see it. Since the edges were all flush with the sides, edge banding stuck out just the thickness of the banding so you might take that into account if that’s not a look you like.
Finish it Off!
Finishing was easy; I just painted it. I used a white latex paint over a white primer to try to waterproof it as much as I could. I knew there would be times when our shoes would be wet or we might have to clean some dirt off of it so I wanted it to be tough.
I painted it in parts with the main box and shelves separate. It took a couple coats on the plywood to get a good even color. A tip for finishing, you don’t want to make the shelves or other movable pieces fit too tightly or they could damage the paint when you slide them into place.
I used four felt pads on the bottom of the bench so it wouldn’t damage our floors and it was finished! (My wife and I did make a cushion for it a few months later but I don’t have pictures of it yet).