February 2018

Cutting Plywood and Poplar

Jay Oyster's picture

Wall where the mudroom bench will be installed. I have a power outlet to move.Mudroom Bench Project — For everything but the solid wood benchtop, this was a project to be supplied quickly and conveniently at the big box store. I did spend more time than normal looking through the plywood and poplar choices to make as clean a selection as I could given their generally lower standards. But I ended up bringing home three sheets of 3/4" birch ply, 1 sheet of 3/4" 'Sandply', 3 sheets of 1/4" birch ply for the backs, and numerous pieces of 1x6 poplar for the face frames and crown molding. My helpers - Liam, Elle, and Remington I also thought about whether or not I wanted to route the bead board backing of the seat area, and ended up by pre-formed and primed whitewood  bead boards. That should save me some time.  I also bought some sacraficial plastic sawhorses. 

I brought it all home and stored it in the garage for a day. I checked out the physical location of the bench and realized that I have a power outlet to move. (And clearly some Halloween decorations to move . . . oh, and my old Kaypro II computer, purchased in 1983.) As I was working, Liam and his friend from the neighborhood Elly showed up with her dog Remington. I enlisted Liam to help out. 

Breaking down the sheetgoods in the garageThen I set up my saw horses and my cut list, and carefully cut down the 4x8 sheets into the approximate widths I needed for all of the larger pieces. After cutting them down, I carried down into the basement shop through the door  on the other side of the house; the one place where the basement isn't below grade.  For the smaller pieces, I had Liam carry them. He's 11 . . .old enough to start earning his keep.

Breaking down the sheetgoods in the garage

Mudroom Bench

Finished it in early October. Quickly used to capacity.
We don't have much closet space on the first floor of our home, so we need a mudroom bench to store coats, boots, hats and gloves.

Photo from FinishesbyAlan.comWe have a spot at the front of our two-car garage that will serve as the home for our mudroom bench. The previous homeowner had installed a half deck a the front of the garage, with a small workbench and space for storage. The area near the door into our kitchen seemed suitable for a bench, so I designed it to fit there.  'Designed' may be too kind a word, however. i took my inspiration from a photo I found on Houzz. I liked the layout of the shelves and the boot nooks under the bench of this design, so I designed around that layout, and adjusted it based on the available space. 

The other design consideration was what to build the bench from. I couldn't make this truly a 'fine furniture' piece, because it will be sitting in our unheated garage, and subject to the knocks and dings of our two young sons and their friends. Still, I wanted it to be sturdy, and at least attractive. So it's built to be like a factory pieces, with screwed construction and plywood for most elements, but it will have solid wood face frames and crown molding. I thought briefly about running over to Peach State Lumber to buy some furniture-grade plywood, but time-constraints prevented that. I bought birch plywood and one sheet of 'SandyPly' from the local Home Depot for most elements, and some pre surfaced poplar for the face frames and top parts.  My wife picked out the color she wanted. Originally, she liked all white, but I think we're both rebeling a bit against the current design trends of neutral colors against a bright white background, with dark wood and stainless steel accents. Too sterile feeling these days. She picked a color based on a sample I bought . . .  General Finshes' Charleton Blue chalk paint.  I'll put a coat of clear varnish or ply on top to provide protection.  . . . I'll figure that out at the end.

StartDate: 

Saturday, January 20, 2018 to Saturday, October 13, 2018

Finished project?: 

Yes

Fitting the Piece to the Place

Jay Oyster's picture

The area in the garage where the bench will go, top of the stairs, to the left of the door, up on the deck.The mudbench is going into the front corner of our garage. As I described on the project page, our garage has a raised deck at the front where the previous owner built a small workbench, and then some storage space where we've got some shelves. The area near the side door into the kitchen was previous just a catch-all space where the kids threw their backpacks and jackets and such. We still want to use it for that, but we want to be able to have some organization, and so I won't be tripping over their shit all the time.

I mocked up the basic space with correct dimension in Sketchup. (See at right)  The model doesn't include the railing along the near edge of the deck, and up the left side of the stairs.  The workbench is just a 2x4 and plywood structure that I've represented by an accurately sized rectangle in the middle of the deck. 

Bench design in the intended location. This was my prototype test to see how it would look in place.

So I took the bench design I worked on over the holidays and placed it in the model to see how it looked spatially, and as a design. To my eye and my wife's eye, it looks good there. She particularly likes the color.

Garage deck with bench in place, deck railing removed for clarity