It never fails for me, at least.
The bench measures about 24" by 10" by 18", and is made out of 1" (actually 3/4") poplar. The rods for the shoe rack are made out of 1/2" dowel, and pinned with 1/4" dowel. I drilled four short 1/8" holes on the top of the bench, and finished it with some purplish-brown (apparently it's called Cordovan) shellac. One coat was all it took. After finishing I hammered some short lengths of 1/8" brass rod into the the holes I drilled, which makes it look cooler than you'd think, then buffed it with some extra fine steel wool to dull the shine a bit.
This brings up another important point: try not to work with warped wood. Somehow the board warped pretty badly along its width, which threw off the joints, which in turn threw off the rods. All in all, I'd say I got it to work pretty well though. Remember, if you have any questions or comments on the design, shoot me a comment!