Shoe Bench Made With CNC Router and Laser




Posted in WorkshopFurniture

Introduction: Shoe Bench Made With CNC Router and Laser

Here is a shoe storage bench for an entryway.  It was cut from 3/4, 1/2 and 1/8 inch plywood with a CNC router and laser cutter.

The goal of this design was a rigid, light  bench.  It must also be strong enough to stand on, and have  good ventilation properties for the shoes.  The person requesting the bench wanted the shoes to be concealed  from view when facing the back (this bench was not going to be placed against a wall.) 

This build was also an experiment using a combination of blind mortises and pocket screws for construction.

I made it at Techshop

Step 1: Tools and Materials


- CNC router
- Router bits ( 1/4 upcut, 1/4 downcut, 1/8 mortise) bit
- Pocket screw kit (jig, drill driver)
- Clothes iron (for edge banding)
- Edge band trimmer
- screwdriver (electric)
- 3 foot bar clamps (4)
- Paint brushes
- Finish sander


- 3/4 plywood (1/2 sheet with plenty of leftover)
- 1/2 plywood (1/4 sheet)
- 1/8 plywood (18x 24 inch)
-  veneer edge band (20 feet)
- wood glue
- pocket screws mostly 1 inch and some  1 1/4 inch
- 220/350 grit sandpaper
- furniture finish (I used water based polyurethane)

Step 2: Design

The person requesting this bench specified that it be narrow, under 2 feet long and hold as many low profile shoes as possible.   So I opted for three shelves.

I  also wanted to try a combination of blind mortises and pocket screws.  The mortices would add strength and ensure an accurate and  speedy assembly, while the pocket screws provided a strong reliable joint with zero wait time on gluing and  clamping.

I also tried a combination of up and down spiral router bits to improve the odds of  a clean CNC cut on both sides of the plywood.  This enabled me use a design that had blind mortices (the inside face has to be up on the router table, so the eventual outside face at the bottom of the plywood has to be cut cleanly).

I  used a laser cut laatice in the plywood back face to facilitate bending of the plywood without steaming or wetting, and also to improve ventilation.   The lattice design is just a repeated rectangle with circular corner cutouts.   By aligning the rectangles, it creates a circle/spoke pattern.

Step 3: Cutting

I used the 1/8 bit to cut the pocket for the 1/8 plywood backing
I used the  1/4 downcut bit  for the mortices and 90% of the profile depth
I finished the profile with the upcut bit.

For the plywood lattice back,  I applied a single layer of varnish, and after the varnish dried, applied a layer of painters tape to the outside.  I placed the outside down on the laser and vector cut the lattice in two passes.

Step 4: Assembly

- Iron on and trim the edge banding.

- Using the pocket  screw jig, drill the pockets.

- Sand and finish the parts, taking care not to apply finish on any surfaces that will be glued.

- Dry fit the entire assembly

- Remove and reassemble with glue and pocket screws.  Use bar clamps to ensure that the parts are flush.  The clamps can be removed after the screws have been tightened

Step 5: Finish and Test.

apply any finish touch  ups, and give the bench a test drive.

That's it!  

Step 6: Restropective

The blind mortice/pocket screw combo worked very well. The whole thing just snapped together, perfectly aligned.    I will use this technique again for future projects.

The piece was actually quite rigid with just a dry fit, so I might have been able to get away with just mortices.  So for those of you that abhor pocket screws, this might be an option. 

The combo of downcut and upcut router bits worked nice with negligible tearout.  It only takes a minute or so to change bits.  Downcut only caused some pretty ugly tearout on the bottom, resulting in a redo of the shelf cuts.

Design-wise, I think having the top front of the bench curve inward inside of outward might have been nicer.   I also think  more interesting lattice pattern might have worked better.



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Very neatly done.

great design

The goal of this and my other furniture instructables is to share what I have learned on designing and fabricating cnc/ plywood furniture. I am very willing to answer questions as best I can. At this point, I am not posting and supporting the CAD and CAM files. See step 2 for an image of all the parts. You can use this a a basis and design your own variant. Please post a photo of your results!

Very nice! Would you consider sharing your .dxf files?

1 reply

Sorry, No DXF files. Step 2 shows the parts, in case you would like to draw up your own.

I love this look. I'm in the middle of designing something similar and stumbled on this instructable. I especially like your lattice design - not only does it help the back bend, but it adds ventilation and looks great. I'm definitely going to try adding some kind of lattice to my back and maybe sides as well.

Love the design! Can't believe it's plywood - the finish is so nice!

Dimensions in inches are approximately 18 height, 24 length, 13 width.

The design is wonderful - love the ventilation.