I know you’ve all been waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for this Build-In Bench Tutorial ever since our Entryway Makeover Reveal earlier this month.
No? You haven’t been anxiously awaiting this post?
Well … I promised it, and so I’m delivering on that today! (and also partly because we were so busy this past weekend with both Owen and Ben’s birthdays that I don’t have any other projects to share … just yet, that is!).
Let’s just do a little refresher on what the space looked like prior to the makeover:
A very cluttered space and a bench that was far too small for the space. And so … we did like we’ve done to so many other spaces … we painted the whole area white!
The clean coat of paint did wonders for brightening up the area, but I had my heart set on creating a sturdy, built-in bench for this little ‘nook’ with storage underneath.
I started forming plans in my head (if you ever see me staring blindly into space … I’m probably dreaming up some new project of some sort … ). Basically, I figured we’d secure a 2″x2″ base into the three walls, set a large piece of butcher-block looking wood on top and secure some uprights underneath for support and to create cubbies for shoe bins under the bench.
Simple concept, right?
And actually … it really did turn out to be a pretty simple project. The only tricky part was working around the existing trim this nook already had.
The timing was also perfect since I happened to win a Kreg Jig Starter Kit at SNAP (a blogger conference) the weekend before I needed it for this bench! #ineverwinanything!!
Here’s what I used for our bench (note: the dimensions of our ‘nook’ were 66″ across, 20″ deep, and 18″ bench height. If you’re creating one … obviously, you’ll want to adjust your dimensions accordingly):
- Sheet of 3/4″ Plywood. We purchased a 4’x8′ sheet of Red Oak Plywood and had Home Depot cut three pieces out of it. The first (and largest piece) was for the bench top (66″ x 20″). The other two pieces were for our uprights (17″ x 18″ each).
- 3/4″ x 3.5″ Strip of wood for front trim on bench (we used Poplar, but you could get Oak to better match your bench top) – cut to the length your bench top (66″ in our case). This will act as the front ‘trim’ piece to give your bench the look of a more substantial, butcher-block like top.
- 1/2″ x 2″ pieces of wood for front trim on uprights. I purchased one 3′ long pieces of poplar, cut it in half, and used it for each upright.
- 2″ x 2″ furring strips (furring strips are just very rough, unfinished 2×2’s that work great for the supports). We cut three pieces: One long piece for the back support (~60″ … just long enough to span as many studs as possible), and two smaller pieces for the side supports (~14″ … or long enough to hopefully span two studs).
- 3″ long wood screws.
- 2″ long wood screws.
- Wood filler
- Kreg Jig, appropriate Kreg screws, and Kreg clamps: Face Clamp, 90 degree clamp
- White paint (we used Sherwin Williams Door/Trim Paint in Cloud White)
- Wood Stain (we used Varathane Stain + Poly in Kona:)
- First, secure your 2″x 2″ support base onto the walls. Placement in KEY in this step! The tops of the 2×2’s should be the exact height of your upright pieces of plywood. The bench will sit on the tops of these 2×2’s AND the plywood uprights (so, obviously, they should all be the exact same height). Also … make sure the back 2×2 and both side 2×2’s are exactly level. We used 3″ long wood screws to secure the 2×2’s at each stud.
- Because we have some odd ‘fake’ walls in our house (because it’s so old and has had some many random additions throughout the years), there were no studs in either side wall of this nook where we needed them. In order to be able to secure the side 2×2’s supports, we ended up wedging in a piece of plywood on each side (I won’t go into much detail here, because I’m pretty sure this ‘problem’ is unique to our space). If you’re making a built in, you should be able to just secure the side 2×2’s right into the wall studs (and thus, skip this entire step).
- With your back and side supports in place, next you’ll want to cut, sand, paint, and stain all your bench pieces. We applied 4 coats of stain to both the bench top and 1″x4″ front trim piece. We painted each side of the uprights white, as well as the upright trim pieces (the 1/2″ x 2″ pieces).
- We had to cut notches out of each of the back corners of our bench to allow it to fit inside the existing trim in the ‘nook’:
- Consult your helper to see what the next step should be (he’s working so hard at ‘helping’ me cut that stick):
- Once everything is dry, grab your Kreg Jig and bench top. We’re now going to prepare to attach the front 1×4 to the bench top. To do this, we’ll drill several sets of pilot holes using the Kreg Jig. Flip over your bench top so you’re drilling into the underside. You’ll want to be working on the front edge. Set your Kreg Jig to the correct dimensions (based on the thickness of your wood … 3/4″ in my case). Set the stopper on the Kreg Drill bit to the correct spot based on the thickness of the wood (again … 3/4″). Next, clamp your Kreg Jig in place (using the Kreg Face clamps) and drill two pocket holes on the front, underside of your bench top.
- Drill these pocket holes all the way down the front edge of your bench:
- Next … attach that front trim piece to bench top by screwing the appropriate size Kreg screws into the holes you just drilled (sorry … really bad lighting in these pictures from late at night).
- Front trim piece should now be tightly secured to the front of your plywood top. Next … for the uprights.
- First, you’ll need to drill two sets of pocket holes. A couple in the front of your uprights to secure the trim pieces onto the edge of the plywood. And a couple along the top of your upright to secure the uprights to the underside of the bench top. Your uprights should look similar to this:
- Attach your trim pieces to the front of your upright (make sure you double check which side of the upright is the front (should be the 18″ long side if you’re using the same dimensions as me). Also … since my trim piece is only 1/2″ thick, I had to make sure to use the shorter Kreg screws to secure the trim onto the front).
- Next, I secured the uprights onto the bench top using the pocket holes:
- You’ll want to grab your wood filler and fill in the pocket holes on either side of each upright and paint over it with white. It will give it a cleaner, more finished look.
- The bench is complete. The supports are complete. Now for the fun part … installing the bench assembly onto the supports! Grab your assembly, flip it over, and carefully set it in place on top of the 2×2 base you secured into the wall!
- And finally … get under your bench and, using a 2″ wood screw, screw through the 2×2’s into the bench top (from bottom up) to secure bench into place on the supports.
- You’re done!! Time to accessorize ..
I’ve still got a couple of ’embellishments’ to add to those wooden shoe crates, and then I’ll share the simple tutorial for those! Stay tuned …
If you attempt this bench (it really is pretty simple) … I’d love to hear how it turns out. Just let me know if you have any questions along the way!
Humor me here, and let’s just view the before and afters side-by-side for a minute: