Kid's Bench & Bookshelf From a Single 2x10x8 Piece of Lumber




Introduction: Kid's Bench & Bookshelf From a Single 2x10x8 Piece of Lumber

About: I'm not an expert in anything. I just enjoy making things sometimes for the process sometimes for the end product.

This was a bad idea. I went into this build thinking I was going to knock this out in a couple of days. Unfortunately for me the dimensional lumbar had a different path for me.

My first take away from this build is; if you want to build this don't do it using a single 2 x 10 x 8 piece of lumber. While you may save some money, you will waste a lot of time in milling and glue ups to get the actual size of lumber you could have just bought in the first place.

My second take away from this build is if you decide to use a single piece of dimensional lumber make sure to take the time to pick the best piece for milling. Not only is it important to look at the face of the wood for excess knots, defects, and straightness it is also important to check the grain pattern on the end grain of the wood. I didn't do this, which resulted in many minor annoyances I had to deal with down the road. When looking at the end grain of the wood try to find a piece that has perpendicular lines that are spaced fairly evenly across going from the top to the bottom and not curved lines that look like the letter 'C'. Those curved grain lines and dampness of the wood will result in some surprisingly cupped and warped pieces of milled wood. It really is amazing how much wood can move in just a few hours.

My third take away from this build I mentioned above, 'dampness' of dimensional lumber. I didn't take into account how wet the wood was when I bought it. It was a cold day, so I just assumed the wood was just cold due to the weather but once I made my first cut; I realized that the wood was still damp. Ideally if I were to do this again, which I won't, I would purchase the wood and let it dry out in my garage before starting to mill it. Letting it dry out will help in reducing wood movement and warping later on.

Think of this Instructable more as a cautionary tale than woodworking plans. I will include my measurements, but these are more fluid and not so much set in stone as I had to adapt my plan to the whim of the wood.


1pc. - 2 x 10 x 8 Lumber

Table Saw

Band Saw


Drill Press

Bar Clamps

Hand Saw

Brad Nailer


Sand Paper

3/8 inch Plug Cutting Bit


Measuring Tape


Wood Glue

Wood Filler

Paint Primer

Spray Paint

#6 1 inch Wood Screws


Drill Driver

Drill bits Various Sizes


Step 1:

The first thing I did was set my table saw fence to 4-1/16 inches wide. I need to rip my 2x10x8 into two 4-1/16 inch wide pieces and one 7/8 inch wide piece. Basically I just made two rip cuts at 4-1/16 inches and the remaining piece was about 7/8 inch wide.

Step 2:

Next, I marked a center line using my square along the edge of the two 4-1/16" pieces and took them to my band saw to rip them in half. Since the boards are 8 feet long it is best to do this with two people to help support the wood. You want to end up with 5 pieces total at this point. The 7/8" piece does not get ripped in half.

Step 3:

After ripping on the band saw, all of the 4-1/16' pieces go through the planer. I ended up with pieces that were about 5/8" thick after all the plaining was said and done. The 7/8" piece does not get planed.

Step 4:

Now we have to cut the pieces that will make up the sides of the bench. Each side will be made up from one piece that is 19-1/2" long and two 10" pieces that will all be cut from the 4-1/16" wide boards.

Step 5:

And here is where the trouble starts, the cupping begins to rear its ugly head in our direction. But we do not look away! Nay! I say, for we have a table saw!! Since the pieces are cupped, the edges are no longer at a 90-degree angle. They are tilted in ever so slightly which will prevent us from getting a good glue up. To compensate for this, I take all the pieces that make up the sides of the bench and trim them on my table saw. I shave off the sides so that it will butt up next to its glue up partner tightly with no gap.

Step 6:

After dressing up the edges I glue up both side panels and leave them to dry overnight.

Step 7:

While the glue dries on the side panels, I use my table saw cross cutting sled and cut four 22" long pieces that will make up the seat and back of the bench. These are also cut from one of the 4-1/16" wide boards. Since these will not be glued together any minor cupping can be ignored, for the most part.

Step 8:

Since this is a kid's bench, I like to round over all the edges of any sharp corners. I draw a small radius on the outer corners and remove it using my bandsaw then I smooth it out with my belt sander.

Step 9:

After cutting the corners off the seat and back planks I sand all four pieces up to 220 grit starting with 120 grit. I use the palm sander to round over all the edges as well. You could use a router for this, but I just prefer to use the sander. I set these pieces aside for the moment.

Step 10:

By now the bench side panels were dry so I removed them from the clamps and used my template to draw the shape on each panel. I cut out the shape using my bandsaw and sanded the surface using my palm sander. Here again I make sure to round over all the edges relieving an sharp corners.

Step 11:

I need to make a dado on the seat and back planks of the bench that will fit on to the side panels. To do this I set up a stop block on my cross-cutting sled and using a scrap piece the same thickness as the side panels I make a cut in the bottom of the seat plank. I then remove the scrap piece and replace it with a 1/8" drill bit, which is the thickness of my table saw blade, and make another cut. The last picture shows the two cut lines now I just use my table and cross-cutting sled to remove the material in between the two cut lines resulting in a dado. I repeat this process for all the seat and back planks.

Step 12:

I do a quick dry fit before glue up. I had to take a tiny bit off one of the dados but other than that the fit was pretty good.

Step 13:

Next, I glue the seat and back planks to the side pieces of the bench.

Step 14:

In order to increase the strength of the bench I use some #6 1" wood screws to secure the seat and back planks to the sides of the bench. First I drill a 3/8" hole part way through the seat plank. This hole does not go all the way through the plank it will be plugged later, it is just deep enough to conceal the screw head. Next, I predrill a hole for the screw. Next I drive the screw in to both pieces. I repeat this process for all the planks resulting in 8 total screws.

Step 15:

Next, I use my plug cutting bit to cut some plugs from one of the scrap pieces of my 2x10x8. The plug cutter is used in combination with a drill press to cut the plugs in the wood. Then they are freed from the wood using the band saw. I placed a dab of glue in each of the holes and pushed the plug in to the hole. Then I used a pull saw to cut off the excess.

Step 16:

I wanted to make sure that the bench could take the full weight of an adult, so I cut some strips to add bracing to the seat planks and to one of the back planks. I also added a stretcher in between the two sides to make it more rigid and to help with any side-to-side stresses that may be applied to the bench. All of these pieces were cut from the one 7/8" thick strip of wood from the initial ripping of the 2x10x8. I cut each strip to fit in between the sides of the bench. The dimension ends up being 18-7/8" wide. The stretcher was secured in place with screws just like the seat was attached to the sides of the bench. I also covered the holes with wood plugs. That pretty much concludes the bench build.

Step 17:

Next, I cut eight 12" long pieces from one of the 4-1/16 boards which will make up part of the bookshelf. Six of these pieces will be the backs of the bookshelf, or the vertical pieces and the other two pieces I cut in half length ways, so the two pieces have now become four, which will be the horizontal pieces. The last picture shows a mockup of what the bookshelf will look like. The last picture shows a mock up how each section of the shelf will look.

Step 18:

I glue up the three bookshelf panels and let them dry overnight. I added some clamps to the sides of the panels to help with the cupping. Spoiler alert, it didn't work they still cupped after I took them out of the clamps.

Step 19:

Once the glue dried I sanded all the back panels to 220 grit. I also glued and brad nailed the narrow strip to the wide strip to make the individual shelves. The fourth narrow strip will be the top of the bookshelf.

Step 20:

After I glued up the three sections of the bookshelf, I did a mockup to see how much wood I would need for the sides of the bookshelf. I realized that at the current depth I wouldn't have enough wood to cover the sides, so I had to rip off about 1/2 an inch off the front of all the shelves in order to make the bookshelves narrow enough to accommodate the amount of wood I had left. After I trimmed the shelves I glued, and brad nailed the three shelves together. As you can see the middle shelf had a pretty bad cupping issue, but I thought I could make it a "feature" and didn't try to fix it. This decision would later come back to haunt me.

Step 21:

I used while wood filler to cover all the brad nail holes. Since I planned to paint this the color of the wood filler didn't matter.

Step 22:

Next, I cut four 20" long pieces to make the two bookshelf side panels. I glued and clamped those four pieces and let them dry overnight. Once they dried, I took them out of the clamps; and to no one's surprise by now, they had cupped. Lastly, I sanded them to 220 grit. The last picture is a mockup of what the bookshelf will look like granted while it lays on its side. I hadn't glued anything at this point, I was just checking the fit.

Step 23:

Here I used a paint can to act as a template for a radius I wanted on the top of the bookshelf side panel. I used my band saw to make the cut on the first side panel then used it as a template to mark and cut my second side panel. I repeated this process for the bottom radius as well. I made sure to sand all my cuts up to 220 grit with my palm sander.

Step 24:

Now it was time to assemble the bookshelf. I glued and attached the side panels using my brad-nailer. I also clamped the piece together and let it dry overnight. I also added a small lip to the bottom shelf using glue and clamps.

Step 25:

The "feature" I mentioned in Step 20 did not work out in my favor. The curve that it added to shelf made it so that the back of the shelf was not perpendicular to the ground. Basically, once I put on the sides and I could stand the piece up the shelves were leaning too far forward and were almost vertical which meant that books would not stay on the shelf and instead fall forward. So, to correct that I cut the legs at an angle to allow the entire piece to lean back. This however, made the piece top heavy so I had to attach a vertical stretcher or 'leg' that would prevent the piece from falling back.

This was not the look I was going for initially but, it solved the problem.

Step 26:

Finally, it was time to paint. I used Kilz primer to seal the wood. I just gave both pieces one good coat.

Step 27:

Once the primer dried, I lightly sanded all the surfaces with 220 grit sandpaper just to smooth out any brush strokes I may have left. Then I wiped off all the sanding dust and sprayed both pieces with spray paint. I was able to get about two coats on both pieces. The primer helps get better coverage when it comes to spray paint. I do not put a clear finish on either piece because it will most likely get some abuse, being that it's for a kid's room. This way if I need to touch up any damage, I can just hit it with a quick coat of spray paint. FYI, buy a second can of spray paint in the same color for future repairs.

Step 28:

This was all the wood I had left from the 2x10x8 mostly scraps and cutoffs that had planer snipe.

Step 29:

As I stated in the Introduction, I thought this was going to be an easy project. And technically it is a fairly simple build that was really only complicated by my choice to use a single 2x10x8. In the future I would just buy 1x material in the widths I needed instead. This would save a ton of time and result in a better-looking final product. I think this could easily be a weekend build if not less. I hope you enjoyed this Instructable and find it helpful, Thanks for reading!

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    2 months ago

    Wow! You got both projects and then little leftover from 1 board! That's amazing!


    Reply 2 months ago

    Thank you very much!!