This gorgeous entryway bench was conceived from a need + a challenge.
The need: We have a lot of shoes (with our family of five) and need proper (but convenient) storage for them. Plus, we need somewhere to sit while putting on our shoes in the entry.
The challenge: My husband challenged me to make this from "nothing." He bought me a $1 hand saw from Dollar Tree, and eventually he also bought me $12 in fabric for the cushions. That's it.
Challenge accepted, my dear husband! And not only did I make this bench, I made a weathered gray entryway table to boot! You can see instructions for that project here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Trash-2-Treasure-...
And the main contributor of material for BOTH projects? A single broken bunk bed frame!
Let the games begin... :D
Step 1: Think Outside the Box
Granted, you could make this project from all new materials (at the dimensions I specify), but where's the fun in that? ;)
I had to find some wood, and quick. So I turned on my thinker and started brainstorming out-of-the-box sources of wood that I already owned. Well, lo and behold, I remembered that one of the frames to the stackable dorm-style bunk bed my kids had was broken...EUREKA!
The two long pieces of wood that hold the mattress lengthwise are perfect for the two sides of my bench to hold the cushions. And the middle pieces of wood running perpendicular to the long pieces would make up the shoe rack wood. Then I used some plywood pieces I already had on hand from a previous art project, and just cut them down to size.
Finally, I gathered my three cushions for the bench from the seats of three ugly pink chairs we were planning to trash. The length of these sitting side-by-side determined how long I'd cut my long bunk bed pieces (and ultimately would determine the length of the bench in total).
After it's all said and done, for my exact bench, here are the sizes I used for each piece needed...
2 - 19 1/2" W x 18" H pieces of 1/2" plywood (outer legs)
2 - 17 5/8" W x 15 1/4" H pieces of 1/2" plywood (inner legs)
2 - 63 1/2" L x 4" W planks of wood (mine are from the sides of a twin bed frame)
OPTIONAL: 2 - 63 1/2" L pieces of 1x1 wood to make the resting place for the cushions (if you aren't using a bed frame)
2 - 27" L x 2 5/8" W planks of wood (mine are from the twin bed frame...the part that holds the mattress)**
2 - 24 3/8" L x 2 5/8" W planks of wood (mine are from the twin bed frame...the part that holds the mattress)**
**NOTE: My lengths for either side's shelves (holding the shoes) were different. You could even these out to be the same exact lengths with a little math.
IDEALLY: 1 - 16 2/8" W x 63 1/2" L piece of 1/2" plywood (to put over the "bed" of the bench...I didn't have this, but would've liked to)
1 quart of paint in the color of your choice (I used Behr paint and primer in one, in the color Polar Bear)
1 1/2" to 2" nails or screws (check the thickness with the thickness of your plywood)
80 grit sandpaper (with optional 100 grit and 120 grit)
Cushions (I used 3 from reclaimed chairs)
1 yard of fabric per cushion (I used 3 separate yards of fabric total)
Screwdrivers (Phillip's head--the X shaped ones--and/or flat head, and/or Robertson head--the square ones. This may depend on where you live.)
Level (may be also known as a plumb level in your area)
Xacto Knife or other sharp blade
Hand saw or electric hand saw (like a jigsaw)
OPTIONAL: Cordless Drill (with proper drill bits)
OPTIONAL: Sanding block or electric sander
Any special tools for taking apart the bed frame
Paintbrush or Deck Pad tool
*NOTE: I would have liked to use screws for more stability and strength, but I didn't have an electric drill and hand screwing them in was splitting the wood. So I ended up using nails. It's still a sturdy ole gal!
Step 2: Obtain the Cushions
As I aforementioned, the cushions would determine how long my bench would be, so I needed to get those dimensions first.
To remove the cushions from each chair was pretty easy.
1. Turn the chair over. Depending on the chair, you may need to cut the fabric off of the bottom to reveal the "innards."
2. Unscrew the screws that are holding the seat in place. Mine only had four--one in each corner.
3. Push the seat out. I used my hand, or the top of a hammer, to do this.
Now you're ready to begin woodworking.
Step 3: How to Read a Tape Measure
I wanted to include this part in my 'ible in the event that you don't know what all the little lines are on a tape measure. That way you can still follow my instructable with precision. :) If you already know how to read a tape measure, please proceed to the next step.
Counting by inches: The large numbers on the tape measure are in one inch increments. So 1 = 1 inch, 2 = 2 inches. etc. Self-explanatory, right? If you chop up the inch into four equal parts, you'd have 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, and then 1 inch.
Counting by eighths: If you look closer at the tape measure, you will notice there are a set of eight lines within that inch that have two different sized lines in it, but aren't as small as the smallest lines, and aren't as big as the inch lines. These are your "eighth" lines. So the first line you come to is a medium-small line. This is 1/8. Now you skip the smallest line and go to the next line that is medium. This is 2/8. Skip the smallest line again and go to the next line that is another medium-small line. This is 3/8...etc..up to 8/8 which is equal to the next inch.
Counting by sixteenths: All the lines, including the smallest lines, make up your sixteenths measurements. The first smallest line is 1/16. The next line (that doubles as the 1/8 line) is 2/16. The next smallest line is 3/16. The next line (that doubles as the 2/8 line) is 4/16....etc...up to 16/16 which is the next inch.
Knowing how to read a tape measure will help you get the most accurate measurements. I hope if you didn't know how to read a tape measure, you found this helpful.
Onward and upward...
Step 4: Orientation and Length
1. Set your cushions side-by-side lengthwise. I used the longest sides of my cushions to get the longest bench that I could. My cushions were 19" x 21" (roughly). So I used the 21" lengths.
2. Figure out the orientation of your long wood pieces. I originally thought I'd have the lip on the lower end of the piece to "drop in" my cushions (like you would a bed mattress). But I determined that sitting on the dropped-in cushions would be most uncomfortable. So I ended up flipping the long pieces over (so the lip was at the top of the piece) and setting my cushions on top of this.
3. Cut the long pieces to size. I had to do this by hand with my little (kind of pathetic) hand saw. However long you determined the bench would be (based off the cushions size), mark this line on your wood on either end (it worked quite perfectly for me, because I was able to saw off of each piece the broken parts). Then saw that line by hand (using the tips on the next step). Or use a jigsaw or other electric saw if you have one of those instead.
NOTE: Because I had to work in my house (since I don't have a workshop or garage, and it's winter), I used a plastic shopping bag underneath to catch the sawdust and wood remnants. I also rested the wood pieces (that I was sawing) on two chairs with the line to cut in the gap between the chairs. Gotta do whatchya gotta do!
Step 5: Tips for Hand Sawing
Here are some tips for hand sawing (from a non-professional):
- Draw a line all the way around the wood where you will be cutting. This helps to see the cut line from all directions as you work on cutting it with the saw.
- I find it easiest to score the wood on the line I'm wanting to cut before actually cutting. This seems to help me cut relatively straight lines with some consistency. I just used the tip of the hand saw's blade for this, but you could use an Xacto knife or a marking knife to do this, too.
- I like to hold my saw angled downward (instead of keeping it straight/horizontal) when cutting. I get better leverage so I can make more headway with my cuts, thus saving me time and physical energy.
- Use the back half of the blade. I found that when I used the front half of the blade, it was too bendable and would result in wiggly lines. The back half of the blade seemed to keep the line straight because it was firmer and less bendable.
- Let the saw do the work. Don't force it--you could injure yourself or break the saw by forcing it or being too rough.
- If you DO get uneven or crooked lines, sawing over it again to straighten it, or sanding it down (if it's a lesser noticeable crooked line), are the way to go.
NOTE: I know the blade of the saw is obviously very sharp, but I learned that the TOP of the blade (the supposedly "blunt" side) is actually EXTREMELY sharp too! I cut my fingers open a few times just bumping my hand into it. So take note from my mistakes and wear gloves (and keep the blade--top and bottom--covered when not in use).
If you have more tips and tricks for sawing by hand, please share them in the comment section below. :)
Step 6: Add Some Bracing Pieces
I added four bracing pieces to my bench so it would be extra sturdy (since it was so long). These also give you a place to add plywood to underneath the cushions (for stability and securing your cushions to the bench). To my delight, the middle pieces were also perfect for adding in the walls to the boot storage.
1. Measure how long each piece will need to be to nestle perfectly in-between your long pieces (perpendicular to the long pieces).
2. Cut the four pieces to size.
3. Nestle them in-between the long pieces and nail (or screw) them into place.
Step 7: Add Some Legs
Now it's time to size up and add on the outer legs to the bench.
1. Measure the length and width needed to completely cover the edges of the long pieces.
2. Cut the plywood to size.
3. Nail or screw on the plywood pieces to the long pieces on either side of the bench to make the legs.
NOTE: Since I used bunk bed pieces, the ends of the long pieces had holes in them. The same with the short brace pieces in the previous step. So be careful to nail or screw into solid parts of the pieces, not the hollow areas.
Step 8: Add the Storage
1. Measure and cut the plywood to fit in-between the long pieces, thus creating the walls for the boot storage in the center of the bench. My boot storage walls were 10 3/8" apart from each other.
2. Nestle these into place, then nail or screw them in. I nailed mine in through the tops of the middle brace pieces.
3. Once the middle walls are in place, measure the length between each plywood piece on either side of the bench. So measure from the left outer leg to the first (left side) inner leg (the wall left wall of the boot storage). Then do the same on the other side from the right outer leg to the right side inner leg.
4. Cut your pieces of wood that you took from the middle of the bunk bed to size accordingly.
5. To properly space your shoe storage wood, I simply took the biggest shoe (my husband's) and the smallest shoe (my youngest daughter's) and laid them on the wood to see what distance apart the wood could be to nicely accommodate both sizes. In retrospect, you could just use the smallest shoe size (because the bigger shoe size really doesn't matter....hahahaha!)
6. Nail or screw these into place between the plywood pieces (and at the width you determined was necessary for storing your shoes properly) utilizing a level to keep them all even and straight.
NOTE: for those who haven't used a level, you can get one at the Dollar Store, and you are simply going to put the level on top of (for leveling horizontal lines, or side to side) or against (for leveling vertical lines, which is called being "plumb"...being perfectly straight vertically, aka up and down) and looking at the bubble in the tube to see if it goes in-between the middle lines. If it does, you're centered (aka even). If it doesn't, you can move the wood to one side or the other (keeping the level against it) until the bubble is centered.
If you need more information about using a level or choosing a level, click here and watch the minute-long video: http://homerepair.about.com/video/How-to-Choose-an...
Step 9: Wood Filling
Because I was reusing a bed frame, it had a lot of holes that I didn't want to show in my finished bench. So here's how I took care of those...
1. For large holes (such as previously used for pegs or connecting the bed frame together), I actually inserted parts of the foam that came in the pink chairs into the holes. Then covered this with wood filler. If I tried using wood filler for such deep holes, it would've been very wasteful and it would've taken FOREVER to dry fully, so this worked beautifully! The little layer just over the top dried quickly and was ready for sanding in the next step.
2. For smaller holes (such as nail holes you messed up, etc), simply cover it with a little wood filler. Wait for it to dry to the touch (the tube will tell you how long to wait). Now you're ready to go on to the next step.
NOTE: When you sand the wood, you have to sand the wood filling down too (in case you didn't know). :)
Step 10: Time to Sand
Oh the joy of sanding by hand (sarcasm intended). If you don't have an electric sander at your disposal, this part will seem tedious, time-consuming, tiring, and even brutally painful. Unfortunately for me, the sanding block my husband had was too long for the pre-cut 80 grit sandpaper we had. So I had to literally sand everything by hand. Ouch!
IMPORTANT NOTE: The finer the sandpaper grit, the finer the sawdust particles are that come off the wood, and the more you will find yourself breathing in these tiny particles and getting it into your eyes (which is obviously bad). So for the 80 grit sandpaper, I didn't feel the need to wear a mask or glasses. But when you go up past 100 grit, you will definitely need a mask AND glasses on. Trust me...sawdust in your eyes and lungs does NOT feel good! These precautions are definitely a necessity, not overkill.
Can you skip sanding and just paint over the previous finish on the wood? In short, no. Leaving the prior finish on reclaimed wood will result in the paint not "sticking" to the wood, the old finish showing through the paint, or a plethora of other issues. So sanding is a must whenever you want to change the paint or stain on an item. It basically gives you a clean slate to work with.
NOTE: "Proper" sanding goes up in grit gradually, until a beautifully smooth "professional" finish is accomplished. This means, for example, sanding the whole bench with 80 grit sandpaper (to get off the old finish), then re-sanding the entire bench with 100 grit sandpaper, then 120 grit, and on up the scale until your desired smoothness is reached (this can go up to 1,000 grit). When staining wood, this is 100% necessary (and is written on the instructions with specific grit values...typically only three different grit sandpapers) in order for the stain to properly absorb into the wood (and it also minimizes the "scratch lines" from the heavier grits--the lower the number, the heavier the grit). But for my project, I literally was ACHING after the 80 grit sanding by hand, so I left it at that. I may sand over the finished project with a fine grit sandpaper (like 220+ grit) to get a smooth finish without taking off the paint. But no one really pets my bench, so I think it's OK for now. ;)
Step 11: Painting the Bench
I had this white paint-and-primer-in-one on hand. I really like it. It's Behr paint in the color Polar Bear. It's a warm white, which you really can't go wrong with. And it goes on really well!
1. After you are done sanding, take a lint-free cloth and wipe down the bench to ensure all of the sawdust is off of it. If needed, use a very slightly damp cloth to "catch" all the pieces with ease (instead of sending them into the air).
2. After the wood dries (if you used a damp cloth), begin painting your bench. I used two coats to paint mine.
NOTE: I used a large paintbrush to paint mine, but a deck pad tool is DEFINITELY the best way to go for painting any flat surfaces. It doesn't leave any brush lines or anything...it only leaves a smooth finish. (See last picture for what this tool looks like.)
Optional: I recommend painting ALL sides of every piece on your bench...that means the undersides of the bench. I like doing this just to make sure it doesn't have the noticeable raw wood color sticking out like a sore thumb from any angle. But if the process is too tiring, I won't give the undersides a second coat. At the very least use one coat to keep the color of the bench uniform. But it's all up to you. :)
Step 12: Re-covering the Cushions
Yay! You're almost done! All that hard work comes to these final steps...
At first I tried recovering the cushions in the same way you'd wrap a present. Yeah, that didn't really work so well. Somehow, what seems so easy, gets really difficult when you get to each corner of the cushion. So I googled how to fold the fabric to make pretty corners, and the following is basically what I concluded:
1.Lay out your fabric flat, and iron it with the steam/spray setting. This is important because once it's stuck to your cushion, you won't be able to get all the fold lines out afterward.
2.With the fabric's right side facing away from you (so you're looking at the wrong side of the fabric), place your cushion face down in the center.
3.Fold the bottom part of the fabric tight around to the back of the cushion and staple or hot glue in place in the center to about 1" from either inside corner.
NOTE: You are supposed to staple down the fabric when reupholstering, or recovering a cushion...but I had to use what I had on hand, and I didn't have a staple gun. Therefore, I used a hot glue gun. And by-golly, it worked brilliantly! Just as good in my opinion! Who knew?
If you have a staple gun, simply replace everywhere I wrote "glue" with staples instead.
4.Fold one of the side fabrics up tight and in to the middle of the back of the cushion. Glue in the middle to about 1" from either inside corner.
5. Now at the corner between the bottom piece of fabric and the side fabric, you will see an excess of fabric. Pinch either side of this fabric in, and flatten it down as you're doing this to create what you see in the pictures above.
6.Pull this tightly at the corner and secure to the back of the cushion with glue. There! You have a nice, neat little corner now!
7. Repeat this process around all four edges and all four corners, until you have a completed cushion.
Step 13: Repeat
I wanted uniformity in the lines of my fabric so it looked like one long cushion to the eye. Meaning, the lines all matched up across all three cushions.
To do this:
1. Make sure your fabric for the remaining cushions is ironed first.
2. Put the finished cushion on the bench frame.
3. Set the second cushion next to it.
4. Align the fabric over the second cushion to match the lines of the first cushion.
5. Mark the edges of the cushion with sewing pins (like you see in the pictures).
6. Take the fabric and lay it down with the right side facing down (like you did in the previous step).
7. Line up the cushion to fit between the lines you designated with the sewing pins (since the metal parts of the pins will show on the wrong side of the fabric--that's why I chose them over chalk that only shows on one side of the fabric).
8. Proceed with the steps from the first cushion's recovering.
9. Repeat this process for all remaining cushions.
Step 14: Attach the Cushions to the Bench
Now it may sound funny, but since I didn't have all the materials I needed (because I could only use what I had on hand), I actually didn't do this step. However, this step is highly recommended for properly finishing off your bench. NOTE: My bench doesn't have any issues with cushions falling into the empty space, stability, etc (it actually isn't even noticeable that I didn't do this step), but if I could've, I still would've finished it with this step.
1. Measure and cut a piece of plywood to run the entire length of the bench. I would have put this plywood piece across the tops of the four brace pieces (not on the top of the bench because it would raise my cushions up too high). The picture above shows you where I would've put a piece of plywood in this step.
2. Nail or screw this piece in, going down into the tops of the brace pieces. And you could also nail or screw a few in on the sides of the piece for stability.
3. Flip the entire bench over (keeping the cushions in their locations underneath) and nail or screw the cushions to the plywood piece you just put in. This will secure everything and make it all unmovable.
Step 15: You're DONE!
Step back and admire! WOO HOO...YOU DID IT! (In the pictures here, I took off the cushions for better lighting to see the storage underneath.)
Add some throw pillows, or a throw blanket if you wish. Invite some friends over to celebrate. Make yourself an entryway table to accompany it...here's the instructions for that if you missed it: https://www.instructables.com/id/Trash-2-Treasure-...
...and enjoy your hard work!
Congrats on a job well done :D