If clutter is threatening to take over your life, get organized with this simple storage bench for your foyer, hallway, bedroom, or mudroom. About 14 inches high and 28 inches long—perfect to sit upon while changing shoes or boots— it has two cavities for holding wicker baskets that serve as drawers to hold scarves, gloves, hats, and other outdoor wear. It is an extremely easy project that you can build and finish in a day.
Before Getting Started
This project is essentially just a large rectangular box, open in the front and back, with a center partition that divides the inner space into two compartments for a pair of wicker drawers. A seat cushion makes for a comfortable resting spot. Using stock 1x12 pine boards, you'll be cutting two long horizontal top and bottom panels, two vertical end panels, and a vertical center partition. To this basic box, you'll be adding four hardwood feet on the bottom and some 1x2 railing pieces on the top to hold to a 12 x 24-inch seat cushion.
Remember, though, that lumber sold as nominally as 1 x 12 has an actual dimension of 3/4 inch thick x 11 1/4 inches. Keep this in mind when measuring and assembling your bench.
Equipment / Tools
- Circular saw
- Tape measure
- Miter saw
- Pad sander
- Fine-grit sandpaper (#220)
- Small framing square
- Hearing protection
- Eye protection
- Wood glue
- 4 Woodworker's bar clamps or pipe clamps
- Tack cloth
- Cordless screwdriver
- Trim paintbrush
- 2 Square wicker baskets, 12x12x12 inches
- Select 1x12 pine board, 8 ft. long
- Select 1x2 pine board, 8 ft. long
- Paint primer
- White gloss or semi-gloss paint
- box Finish nails
- Seat Cushion, 24x12
- 4 Solid hardwood feet
Cut the Top and Bottom Panels
Using a circular saw or power miter saw, cut the 28-inch-long top and bottom panels from a 1x12 pine board. if using a miter saw, you'll likely need to rotate the board to make two cuts, as most miter saw blades are not wide enough to cut a 1x12 in one pass.
Cut the Ends and Center Partition
Using a circular saw or power miter saw, cut three 12-inch-long pieces of 1x12 to serve as the end panels and center partition. The actual dimensions of these pieces will be 12 x 11 1/4 inches.
Make Cutouts on End Panels (Optional)
For a more decorative look, the end panels can be cut out with openings in their centers. The size of these cutouts is up to you. For example, you can create 8 x 8-inch openings in the center of each end panel, producing a look that resembles a picture frame with 4-inch sides. Use a small framing square and marking pencil to mark cutting lines for the cutouts.
To make these cutouts, use a drill to bore an access hole, then use a jigsaw with woodcutting blade to cut out the opening along the marked outline. A jigsaw can leave a somewhat rough cut, so you may want to smooth these cut edges with a power sander.
Mark the Top and Bottom Panels
The center partition for the bench will be exactly centered between the ends of the bench, while the end panels (the pieces with the cutouts) will be set back 1 inch from the ends to create a more ornamental look.
Use a framing square to mark reference lines on the top and bottom panels to indicate where the side panels and center partition will be attached.
Assemble the Bench
Assembling the bench will be simplified if you have a helper or a pair of long bar clamps—or both. To position the pieces, it is easiest if you work on the floor with the pieces laid down on edge. The side panels and center partition will be positioned between the bottom and top panels.
Use a bead of wood glue on the edges of the side panels and center partition, then carefully arrange the top and bottom panels so the side panels and center partition are between them, spaced 12 inches apart. You may want to use the wicker baskets as spacers during this step to ensure the spacing is correct. Use a pair of long bar clamps or pipe clamps to hold the pieces together during this stage.
To secure the top and bottom panels to the side panels and partition, drive a row of 2 1/2-inch finish nails hrough the top and bottom and into the end grain of the side panels and partition.
Add the Bench Feet
Turn the bench upside-down so that it rests on its top panel. Screw the four hardwood bench feet into place at the corners of the bottom panel. It may be necessary to create pilot holes before screwing in the feet.
Measure the Cushion Rails
Remove the bar clamps and set the bench upright. Lay the cushion on top of the bench. Use the cushion as the reference point for marking off the measurements for the 1x2 board railing. Generally, this will be 25 inches for the back railing, with two side pieces that are each about 11 inches long. Since cushions will vary slightly in size, these rails should be cut to accommodate the cushion.
Cut the Cushion Rails
Cut the three cushion rail pieces to size. Set the long piece aside. With the miter saw, bevel off the ends of the two side rails by cutting off the corners at a 45-degree angle. This is done both to make the rails look more appealing and to soften the sharp, square ends.
Attach the Cushion Rails
Nail the three cushion rails into place on the storage bench top panel, using finish nails. Ideally, the side rails should be set in slightly so they align perfectly with the vertical side panels. Having the cushion rails slightly inset will give the bench a cleaner look.
Sand the Bench
Fit 220-grit sandpaper onto a pad sander. Wearing hearing and eye protection, lightly sand all visible areas. On the cushion rails, sand down the sharp edges and corners for comfort.
After sanding, use a tack cloth to gently rub down the storage bench and remove sanding dust. Do not press down hard on the tack cloth or you risk embedding the beeswax into the wood. Continually expose fresh, new areas of the tack cloth for better adhesion.
Paint the Storage Bench
Pine is a fairly porous, resinous wood, so it is best to cover the bench with two coats of primer before painting. Let each coat of primer dry for two hours between each coat. When the primer is cured, paint the bench with at least two coats of interior acrylic-latex semi-gloss or gloss paint. Again, allow two hours between each coat of paint.