Every home has its problems. Mine was lack of storage for shoes near our front door. I looked at several stores and was shocked by the $100 USD price tag on cheap particle board furniture. I knew there had to be a better solution.
I bought at single 4' x 8' sheet of 1/2" Baltic birch plywood ($34) and decided to design a window bench that would use one sheet of plywood. Well that was the plan. I ended up using another 1/4" piece of plywood for the back ($13) leaving plenty of cutoffs for other projects.
Total cost: $47 plus paint of your choice.
Step 1: Design Layout and Tools
I designed a model in SketchUp and created a cut layout to Identify the most efficient use of the single sheet of plywood.
* note this may not be the best design but it worked out well for me and was reasonably easy to assemble. This instructable requires some prior knowledge of the use of tools listed below.
- Table saw (preferred)
- *Circular saw (see video in step 2)
- Brad nailer/stapler
- Wood Glue
- Tape Measure
I considered talking about safety equipment but decided against it. I believe that your safety is your responsibility. Working with power tools is inherently dangerous. Be Safe.
Step 2: Cutting All the Pieces
In order to make the cutting simple I started by cutting down the 4'x8'x1/2" sheet on the table saw into three 13" x 96" pieces and one 1 3/4" x 96" piece. You will be left with about a ~6" x 96" strip that you can set aside for another day.
Each of the 13" pieces can be cut down to size.
- 1 - 59 1/8"
- 2 - 58 3/8"
- 2 - 19"
- 4 - 11 1/4"
- 4 - 5"
1 3/4" width
- 1 - 58 1/8"
- 2 - 12"
After you complete the cuts take the two pieces labeled side 1 and side 2 in the drawing 13" x 19" and prepare to cut the slots.
Step 3: Cutting the Slots
This can be done many ways. Since not everyone has a dado blade I will demonstrate how to use a normal saw blade to make the slots.The easiest method requires a table saw but you can use the method of using a guide and a circular saw shown in the previous steps video. Using a circular saw will work fine but it takes more time to setup. In order to use a circular saw to cut the slots you need to adjust the guide the width of the kerf of your saw blade each cut until you have cleared out the slot.
I used a dado set while making this project as it is an efficient method and the dado set leaves a very flat bottom in the slot. When using the dado set you only need to align one edge of the dado and adjust the stack to the width of the slot desired.
Definitions / Additional Information
Kerf: The slit made by the blade of a saw
Dado: a groove cut in the face of a board, into which the edge of another board is fixed
If you are not familiar with what a dado set (dado stack) here is some additional information.
Step 4: Assembly (Sides Shelves and Top)
The pieces are assembled with wood glue and crown staples. Staple approximately every 2 inches.
First apply glue to the slots in the two sides then take the two shorter shelve pieces 13" x 58 1/2" and staple them in place. (Photo 1, 2 & 3)
Note: In hind sight I would have put in the bottom shelve dividers before putting on the top of the bench. Unfortunately I cannot show you the process as I cannot go back and redo the project.
Next apply glue to the top of the sides and place the top piece 13" x 59 1/4" on the sides and staple in place. (Photo 4, 5, 6 & 7)
Step 5: Assembly (shelve Dividers)
Next you will need to layout the shelve dividers. You can find the layout in the 2D model starting from either side measure and mark 11 3/4", 12 1/4", 23 1/2", 24", 35 1/4", 35 3/4", 47", 47 1/2", 59 1/4".
After you have made transferred these marks to the Bottom, Middle and Top shelves(Photo 1). Apply glue to either edge of the shelve divider (Photo 2) align the shelve dividers and clamp in place (Photo 3). Use crown staples on either side. Repeat the steps with the top dividers. You will not be able to staple the bottom side.
Note: This is where I would alter my design after having completed the project. I would add slots to all of the shelves for the dividers to allow for more gluing surface and rigidity.
Step 6: Assembly (bottom Supports and Back)
This is the final step before paint!!!
To make it alignment of the front support easier first apply the side bottom supports (Photo 1). Glue and staple the supports into the sides aligning the one edge to the back of the project. Until now the project has not had a front or back so choose the side you think looks better for the front.
Next line up apply glue to the edges of the front bottom support and clamp in place. Use one of the left over plywood cut offs to help align the front support while clamping (Photo 2 & 3). Then staple approximately every 4 inches.
Applying the Back
You are almost done!
Cut a 1/4" piece of plywood to 59 1/4" x 17 3/4" size and mark lines on the back at the center of each shelve divider. Use these lines to as guides for where to staple. Take extra care in how you staple the shelve dividers to avoid missing your target (Photo 4).
Step 7: Painting
Apply your choice of wood putty to the staple holes and allow to dry. Lightly sand the entire assembled bench. Then apply 1 coat of primer. lightly sand the entire surface and then apply 2 coats of your choice of color latex paint.
Step 8: Making the Cushion / Finished Product
You will need to pick out some fabric and get some upholstery foam if you want to make a cushion. My wife picked out the fabric and decided to make the cushion the length of 4 bins. This left a spot open for our house plant. You can skip this step if you don't want a cushion. We used 1" foam cut to the desired size then cut your fabric 3/4" larger for the top and bottom (3/8" seam allowance). Fold the fabric with the pattern to the inside and sew around two edges. Then turn the fabric right side out. Put the foam in place and fold the edge inwards and sew the cushion closed (Photo 1) I'm not going to go into detail about the sewing as this instructable is more about the bench itself. If you would like I would be happy to work with my wife to make a full instructable about making cushions.
I really hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did. If you liked it please vote for me. If you didn't leave me a comment and tell me how you think I could improve in the future. Feel free to use my design in any way you like or alter it to make it better. I only ask that you make it available to others to use as well.