Monday, November 2, 2015

Storage Bench / Record Holder

My dining room is quite nice, but there is a small wall which divides it from the living room.  

I like this little wall, but it does accumulate 'stuff' on it's top...

 ...and very often shoes are left at it's base in the dining room.

So I wanted to build a bench which will go against this wall and have some cubby holes for shoes and other nic-nacs.

I designed several different benches in SketchUp.

My initial benches were long, with a lot of trim and cubby spaces for shoes and whatnot.

Eventually my designs evolved, and I had a bench that opened up, with space to store papers without being seen.  But I wasn't too crazy about the rest of my bench.

After a while I designed one I liked, but I wasn't 100% ready to build it.

At the same time as I was designing this bench, I was also designing something to hold more records for my turntable stand.

You can see the build for this project by clicking here.  This stand holds the turntable, speakers and a removable box to hold records.

My latest problems are that my girlfriend and I have acquired quite a number of records, and the box is getting tighter and tighter.  This is also making the box a bit too heavy to continually slide in and out of the stand, and lift up.   I also recently built a small stool...

...which I use to simply hold up the record box so that we can easily go through our records.

But I felt I could build something to hold all our records, something better than a stool.  So I began an internet search for wood record boxes and stands.

Like the bench, I had multiple designs that I wasn't overly crazy about.  Then I thought that having a separate bench and a separate record holder would make my dining room too crowded.  So I decided to combine both ideas and make a long storage cabinet that can hold our 'stuff', records and shoes.

This storage bench is shorter than my turntable stand, but just as long as my initial bench designs.  It can hold more records than the box I have, plus shoes can fit on the bottom.

This job also doesn't have many large pieces of wood, so it should be a fairly easy job.

So with my plans complete I went out and bought the wood I needed.

As always the first steps are to measure and mark.

I then cut the smaller pieces of wood with the miter saw...

...and the larger pieces with the table saw.

Next I wanted to assemble the long sides of the bench, which required making pocket holes using my jig.

Then I clamped pieces together and screwed them with pocket screws.

Before long I had 1 side done...

...and then the second side.

Next it was time to make the short sides.  The same process of drilling and screwing took place.

Now all 4 sides are done.

Time to put them all together.  I drilled new pocket holes into the shorter sides...

...and began screwing them into the longer sides.

And all 4 sides are together!

Next it was time to put in the shelves.  To do this I drilled even more pocket holes...

...and attached them with pocket screws.

Having a specialized clamp makes this part easy.  This clamp has one end which fits perfectly into a pocket hole.

After a bit of screwing, the 2 shelves are in place.

Then I went to the table saw and began cutting down thin plywood for the insides of the top shelf.

I glued and nailed the wood for the long sides...

...and the for the short sides.

Next I put the bench on my work table and glued/nailed on some trim for the bottom.

Then I flipped the bench upside-down and put trim on the top.

Now it's time to work on the bench top.  This will comprise of 2 boards - one thicker and one thinner.

The 2 boards will be attached with pocket holes...

  ...and screws.

While at the store I picked up another face clamp.  This clamp makes it a whole lot easier holding the 2 boards together flush.

These 2 clamps are so useful that I decided to put mounts on my work table to hold them.

With the top together I went out and bought 2 long hinges.

These I attached to the back.

Now the top opens nicely!

So far so good!  I'm almost done.

Now I need to make some dividers for the insides.  These dividers will strengthen the whole bench, plus make specific spaces for my records.

I cut down 2 remaining pieces of wood with the table saw.

Then added pocket holes one last time.

The 2 dividers fit inside and were drilled to the bottom and sides.

And for a finishing touch I bought a wood flourish...

...which I centered and glued/nailed in place,

Construction complete!!!  But before I begin sanding, filling, sanding and all that nonsense, I brought the bench inside to see how well it fits.

The records fit nicely inside!

And the bottom shelf is perfect for our shoes and sandals.

All-in-all it looks great!  It's strong enough for me to sit on as well.  Now I just have to wait for my girlfriend to come home and see if she approves of it.

Luckily she loved it.  The only problem found was that some of the nails I used to mount the flourish protruded through the inside.

So I brought it back into the workshop and removed the nails.  Then I glued plugs into the pocket holes on the inside of the lid.  Pretty much all of the other pocket holes are hidden, so these are the only ones I filled.

Next I used a block plane to level out some of the places were several pieces of wood met.  This was mostly done on the top of the box - the part that gets covered when the lid is closed.

Now it was time to sand this bad boy.

Sanding took a very long time.

I actually used my handheld belt sander for most of the surfaces.  I really roughed it up with this sander, and then smoothed it out with my orbital sander.  The rough cuts from the belt sander will make some interesting marks later when I add stain.

In fact I used all but one of my sanders for this piece.  Each sander had different grits of sandpaper and were used for different parts of the bench.

Once the first round of sanding was done, I applied wood filler.  There were a lot of spots to fill!

The biggest area to fill was that top rim.

When the filler dried I sanded the whole thing again with medium grit sandpaper.

Then one final time with very fine sandpaper.  Now this thing is silky smooth.

Next I thoroughly cleaned the bench inside and out...

...and prepped for staining.

I used the same color stain as I did for the turntable stand and the dining room table.  I forgot to remove the lid, so I just had to work around it and quickly wipe off any stain that gets on the hinges.

As predicted, the belt sander I used earlier made some very cool distressing once I added the stain.

I debated about leaving the insides unstained, but a drip of stain that landed inside changed my mind.

I then let the stain dry for several hours.  Recently I decided to try using polyurethane instead of clear coat spray for a bunch of stools I made for practice.

I couldn't believe how nice the polyurethane came out.

Each one of my stools is smooth and glossy.

The end results were so much better than clear coat.

So I think I'm going to try going big and add polyurethane to the bench.

The only draw back to polyurethane is the drying time.  Clear coat drys to the touch in about 15 minutes.  Polyurethane takes hours.

The first coats were applied to the front, back, sides and tops.  To reach the top while the bench was on my work table I used my step ladder.

The trickier part is applying the polyurethane on the flourish without drips or air bubbles.  Using a spray polyurethane may be easier.

Once each coat fully dried I sanded with a fine sanding sponge.

Then I cleaned the dust away and applied another layer of polyurethane.

Although I use disposable foam brushes for application, I like to wrap the brushes in plastic wrap so they stay good for the next round.  This keeps down the number of brushes I throw away.

Once I applied enough layers of polyurethane to the front/back, sides and tops, and let it dry, I then put the bench on the ground to work on the insides.

Once the insides had dried I focused on the bottoms.  Unfortunately I had run out of polyurethane, so I simply used some glossy clear coat.  No one will see this area so it's ok.

The process of applying polyurethane, drying, sanding, more poly, etc took an entire day.  But the results were worth it.  The next morning after I let the whole thing dry over night I grabbed 4 felt sliders with adhesive backings.

I placed the sliders with the adhesive pointing up on the 2 corners of the top rim.  2 other sliders were placed centered by the divides.

Then I lowered the lid.

When I raised the lid again the sliders were attached to the lid.  These sliders will protect the rim and the lid as it opens and closes.

And with everything done I moved the bench inside!

Then I put our records inside it...

...and our shoes on the bottom.

This thing turned out quite well!

It's also the first big piece of furniture I've used polyurethane on - with the exception of the dining room table (but that was one flat surface).

The high gloss looks great on this thing!

It looks like I'll have to touch up the surrounding furniture with polyurethane too - but that's a task for another day.

Thanks for reading!

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