'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros  

'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros
                                                                   "Where woodworkers are not all Pros"
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Hall Bench Project Logo
I wanted to make my daughters something special for Christmas last year (2008) and was stumped as what to make for them that would not be viewed as a piece of junk.  My wife was browsing the Internet some time after Thanksgiving of that year and ran across a picture of a bench designed to be used in a hallway (to sit on when taking off boots or shoes, etc).  I downloaded a picture of the bench and began studying the picture to see if I could figure out how to design it so that it would be appropriate for the spaces that my daughters each had in their homes where it might be used.

We decided that the bench could be designed with some minor variations and could be made to fit the spaces.  We decided to "let the cat out of the bag" so to speak, so that I would not build the benches too large for them to use, and this dictated that I would need to measure the spaces for length.  My youngest daughter had the smallest space, so I made the design to fit her space first (which would also work in my older daughter's more accommodating area) and then built them both to the same length (53" long X 16 1/2" deep X 20" tall).

I also finished them to what the girls wanted.  The oldest daughter wanted me to paint her bench black but since I was planning on using poplar, I wanted the grain to show through and convinced her to let me use an ebony stain.  It turned out great and accomplished what I wanted it to.  The youngest daughter was going to use her bench in a foyer area close to her newly remodeled kitchen which sported brand new cherry cabinets.  Needless to say, I used a cherry stain on her bench.  Below is the final results of both the benches.  (NOTE:  Missing in the photos are some weaved baskets that will eventually be used in the three openings of each bench).

The left photo is the oldest daughter's ebony stained bench and the right photo is the youngest daughter's cherry stained bench.  You can check out some other photos of the building process and of some of the steps along the way in the article that follows and let me know what you think!
Finished Ebony Stained Hall Bench
Finished Cherry Stained Hall Bench

Project Details

Bottom panel dado cutsAfter acquiring the lumber for the two benches, I cut rough lengths for all the pieces to make the sides, tops and bottoms from 1 X 10 poplar boards.  I then laminated the pieces together to make the correct overall widths that I wanted to use.  Having done that and after the glueups, I finished cutting the pieces to their final length dimensions.  Upon completion of the pieces, I then cut dados in both bottom panels to hold the center panels in place during assembly. #20 Biscuit cuts in bottom panel.
You can see the finished dado cuts in the photo above left. 

In the right photo, you can see that I also used #20 biscuits cut into the edges of the bottom panels (on all four sides) to hold the face frame in place.  The end, top and back panels were also held in place by this same method.

In the two photos below, you can see a couple of views of one of the benches after the face frame was attached to the bottom panel.  I used a scalloped design on both of the top and bottom rails of the face frames.  The primary reason for using this design on the top rail was to allow for more comfortable seating and for containment of the cushion that would be used after completion.  The bottom rail would also be more appealing to the eye by making the completed bench more symmetrical in appearance.
Front view of the face frame.
Three quarter view of the face frame.

The photo on the left (below) shows one of the benches from the front after the face frame, top, bottom and both end panels have been glued up and being clamped.  The photo on the right (below) shows the same thing from more of a 3/4 view from the back side of the partially assembled bench. 

Front view of half finished hall bench.
Rear view of half finished hall bench.

The picture below is a three quarter view of the bench shown in the two photos above after the clamps were removed and before the back and top perimeter trim pieces were installed...... just another view!  This is (at this stage) what I consider the project being about three fourths finished.

Three quarters finished hall bench.

Completed bench prior to staining.The photo on the right shows one of the benches after the top & bottom trim pieces were glued and clamped in place and the clamps had been removed.  This was the point in time when I began the final sanding and applied the pre-stain sealer.  In both cases, I think the right decision was made to let the somewhat attractive grain of the poplar boards show through the stain, don't you?

As always..... your comments are welcome!


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