Making a Corner Storage Bench

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Today I am going to share with you how to make a corner storage bench. This will work for a non corner storage bench as well (that will actually be less complicated!) I have always wanted a breakfast nook/window reading seat,  etc. and we had the perfect space for it! We could have bought one, but those things are expensive! This project so far has been significantly cheaper. The only thing left is the bench seat (and that is for another day!).

It's been awhile since we started this project, and it's still not 100%complete, but we did get the majority of it done on the first day we started. My husband and I both had off a Saturday in April (rare as he works practically every weekend) and so we wanted to make it a special day where we could spend some quality time together. I knew this would be a tough project (we have never done anything like it before!) but I figured, sometimes that's when the best bonding happens!

Hubs took a little convincinghe wanted to make sure that we didn't get half way through and have to quit because it was too hard or complicated, totally understandable!—but after some coaxing, some measurements and reassurance from me that we could absolutely do this, we headed to Lowes.

Here is our take once we got home!

What did we get ourselves into?!

The first thing we had to tackle was how to get the baseboard off—we wanted the bench to sit flush against the wall so nothing could fall back behind it once it was complete, but taking off a baseboard seemed daunting. Luckily, you can find a tutorial for just about anything on the internet and actually, removing baseboard (of our type) is quite easy. Here is a quick tutorial video from the web:

In the video she used a utility knife, a small putty knife, a hammer, a pry bar and a piece of wood—when we did it, I was actually able to find a putty knife that was about 12 inches wide which gave me some more leverage than then small one she had, and I didn't need to use the pry bar or the piece of wood. This could also be because our baseboard wasn't attached very well —let’s be honest, I don’t know that much about baseboard. The point is, it came off, very easily. Here is a picture of our space, sans baseboards.

Besides buying the putty knife, we also had to buy:

  • All the wood for the bench (2x4’s for the frame, a plywood sheet for the front and tops, and trim for the beautification!)
  • Screws for putting together the 2x4s
  • Stain and a polyurethane coating for once the frame was up and we were ready to finalize the design
  • Nails to attach the fronts and sides and
  • A large drill bit to drill the finger holes for the lids
This took a couple of trips, because I didn't want to purchase the plywood sheet or trim until the frame was up. At Lowe’s (and most large hardware stores I think) they will cut the wood for you (thank God, because although we have a hand saw, that thing scares me!) and I did not want to cut the front and/or the sides until the frame was up and measured. I was worried that it wouldn't be the exact size we expected it to be and that the already cut plywood would be wasted and wouldn't fit. Because we were going to have to go back anyway, we decided to buy the trim, the nails, the stain and the large drill bit on the second trip. 

It was a lot of cutting, luckily the employee at Lowes was patient with us! Here is exactly what we had cut:

  • 4 60" pieces for the long sides of the long boxes
  • 4 24" pieces for the long sides of the short boxes
  • 15 14" pieces for the short sides of both size boxes and the tops of all the horseshoes
  • 11 9" pieces for the vertical portions of the horseshoes
*(remember, measure twice, cut once!)

We used a Ryobi 18.0v 3 Speed drill and we purchased Wood Screws (14x3) upon the recommendation of the hardware salesman. I held the boards together while Hubs drilled—we soon realized that this was going to be harder work that we thought! Holding the boards together, without letting them move, while he was forcing the screws in was rough, both of our arms were jello by the end of the day! TIP: It did help to pre-drill holes before drilling the screws in, so the screws had somewhat of a guide. Once both boxes were complete, we pressed them up against the wall, attached them to the wall, and to each other. Phew.

The next step was to make the support for the top box, or what we called the horseshoes. We made one for each end of each box, and one for the middle of the long box. Since this is a storage bench, for convenience, I wanted two lids on the left bench since it’s so long—the middle horseshoe is where the lids will converge and rest. We also added an extra small piece of wood at the end of the small box for an additional space to attach the boxes together. Once all the horseshoes were complete, we glued them on with wood glue. I wouldn't recommend wood glue for anything except vertical attachment as I don’t think it’s super strong, but since there would be another box on top of these, and then lids, and then a bench seat, and then people sitting on it, I didn't think it was necessary to screw them in. Plus...we couldn't figure out how! So here we are, a little more than half way through! (PS. these were also screwed into the wall).

All we had to do after that, was make two more boxes like we had done in the beginning and glue them on to the horseshoes. We also attached these boxes to the wall for stability. I didn't get a final picture of the frame without the sides or tops on it (I was too excited) but I think you guys get the idea.

Before heading back to Lowes to get the remaining items, I measured the bench—I’m so glad we waited! Turns out, 2x4s aren't actually 2x4! Who knew? This is what I found when I Googled WHYYYYYYYYY: 

2X4 is the 'nominal' dimension, a reference back to the rough size of the lumber before it is dried and finish-sawn, or "dressed", to 1.5"X3.5".” 

GOOD TO KNOW!! Luckily, it didn't affect our design much or the space, I’m just really happy I waited to buy the sides and top!

Remember when you are having them cut the wood for you:

that the long piece for the front cover of the bench has to be as long as the bench you want to cover in the front PLUS the width of the side covering (which is the width of the wood you are having cut now). For example, I needed a piece of wood 42" inches long to cover the long part of the bench, and since I would be adding a side covering that has a width of ¼” I needed my front cover to be an additional ¼” wide (total 42.25"). The short piece for the front does not need this extra ¼” because it will be sitting adjacent to the long piece at a right angle and will be propped up an extra ¼” from being butted up against it. Lastly, they all need to be ¼” (or however thick your wood is) taller, to accommodate for the lids. The lids should be exactly the size of the frame. 

Here is our bench with the covers and lids, as you can see, I didn't realize until afterward that both fronts did not need to be longer until after we were home…(see left front edge)...Like I said before, measure twice, cut once!! Oops!

We had to end up using the hand saw after all, oh my dear husband, I was afraid! I drew a line and he cut, and it turned out perfectly! 

Also, while at Lowes the second time I bought the trim. You can do anything you want on the front and sides to fancy it up, here is what I chose:

These had to be hand cut (I guess the guys at Lowes could have done it but I wasn't exactly sure how I wanted it cut). Luckily I have a small hack saw that came in a Restoration Hardware Tool Kit. We wanted the storage bench to look really “finished” so we cut the trim so that it was “cornered.” Each end had to be cut to create an exact equilateral triangle so it would abut the other trim piece in a perfect square. I measured this cut by measuring the width of the trim (half inch) and then measuring in that width and marking a vertical line. From there, I drew a diagonal line from the top (or bottom, depending on what type of corner I was making, for which part of the bench) to the opposite corner. This was the line that needed to be cut. This was very tedious work and after our arms already being jello from creating the bench itself, this was tough but we finished it!

After all the pieces were the right size, the next step was to stain it.We used Minwax Wood stain in Dark Walnut. I was looking for a dark dark wood to go with the d├ęcor of our house—this did the trick after two coats. We stained in the garage using an old tee-shirt (advice I received from someone at Lowes, he said that is how he had always done it!) and rubber dish washing gloves. Also we had some very heavy duty paper that we laid out in the garage to do this, be very careful, stain will get on everything! Newspaper will not be enough unless you do a ton of layers. I would hate for you to stain your project and then clean up and realize you stained the floor of your garage! Also, we decided, to save time and effort, not to stain the lids. I plan to make a seat to fit over the bench and since no one would ever see the lids except us, we left them raw.

That was all we could do for the night, the day was almost over and we were spent. We finished the day off with pizza and soda and just kicked back on the couch. Ahhhh relax time.

Since then I have made more progress on the bench, but that is for another time, I will take some more pictures of it and let you all know the ins and outs of attaching the front and sides and adding the trim. 

For now, I say, adios!