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How to Build Your Own Functional Storage Bench

Updated on April 6, 2016

When it comes to storage space few of us could do with less. Any time a piece of furniture can do its intended job with a bonus of being a storage bin, well that is great in my book.This bench is great for hallways, pianos and the end of beds. It has a great finish that shows the natural beauty of real wood furniture and is easy to clean. On top of all that it was my very first carpentry project, and if I can do it then I believe anyone can.

Finished bench holding 2 king size comforters and a king size summer quilt.
Finished bench holding 2 king size comforters and a king size summer quilt.

Back Story

My house has an extra wide hallway and we needed somewhere to sit to put our shoes on. In no hurry we took our time thinking about what we might like to see there. During a trip to a large hardware store I saw some wood boards on sale and had a eureka moment. I stopped and stared, building the boards into a classic wood bench in my head, much like you'd see for a piano. Very happy with what I imagined I told my husband we need to buy five of these. He looked at me funny and gave a hesitant OK. He's come to expect weird do-it-yourself projects and crafts from me.

Later I explained my project to him. He was pleased but skeptical it would ever come to fruition. I gathered all my supplies but my project had to wait until cold rainy season passed. Winter came along and I became pregnant with our first child. Wood stain has some pretty nasty chemicals that pregnant ladies shouldn't be around so my project got put on the back burner. A beautiful boy was born in August. My project was back on schedule for the next summer.

The next summer came around but we had decided to try for another baby. Too paranoid that the month I decide to do the project would be the month it finally happened I put the project off for yet another year. I became Pregnant the following year around April. The boards were collecting huge amounts of dust under our couches. My Little girl was born in December this last year.

As summer approached I told by husband I was determined to make our bench. For a moment he seemed to have forgotten. Four years late I finally finished this bench... and it blew away all my husbands expectations. Which is more than I can ask for coming from my very first carpentry project.

You will need...

  • 5 Wood boards, 1inch thick, 1 foot wide and 4 feet long, pine, maple or oak
  • Powered hand saw
  • Drill with 1/4 inch bit and a phillips screwdriver attachment
  • 10 Screws, 2 inch flatheaded
  • Fine or extra fine and coarse sandpaper
  • 2 Hinge sets
  • 1 quart can of indoor wood finish (stain), I uesd minwax red mahogany
  • Indoor sealant, such as minwax polyurethane
  • Large paint brush
  • 2 or more Rags

Use your hand held saw to cut your boards as shown

Measure and mark your boards at least twice before cutting. While sawing your boards make sure they are stable. I had my husband help hold them for me. Its better to have to go back and trim off wood than to have taken too much and having gaps. If you try to cut exactly on your pencil mark you may take too much so always aim a little over into to wood than wont be used.

Visual for how the boards fit together

The front and back of the bench will have 4 screws each, 2 on each end. Fit the front side into the notch you cut out of one of the legs. Hold it stable and drill holes where you want your screws to go in. Once done you can easily screw in your screws.

Repeat this will all corners.

Place the bench top side down so that the legs are in the air.

Take the board labeled bottom (the one you sawed 2 inches off of) and fit it between the legs. If it wont go in you'll have to use the coarse sandpaper and rub down any unevenness until it fits.

Drill Holes into all four corners of the bottom board and in the middle of the long edges. Screws can then go into each of the 6 holes.

Attach your hinges as shown in the picture

This was a little awkward. It works much easier if you have someone to help hold the top board. However it can be done on your own.

Start by attaching the hinge to the underside of the top board. Very small drilled holes may be needed.

Stand over your bench and with one hand hold the top board in the open position as shown in the picture and with your other hand screw in the other side of the hinge.

Time to stain!

Take your bench outside. You don't want to breath this stuff in too much. For this step you'll need the wood finish/stain, gloves that keep out liquid (latex, plastic food gloves or dish gloves all work) and the rags. Make sure your stain is well stirred. Dip one of your rags just a little into the stain. You don't want it dripping everywhere but enough to spread on the wood. Rub the stain rag onto the bench going with the grain. Continue applying stain until the bench is evenly coated. When you finish take your clean rag and going back to where you started rub off any excess stain. Let your now beautifully stained bench sit for 24 hours.

Time to add your final finish. Take the paintbrush and apply the polyurethane, brushing with the grain. You are going for an even thin coat. Let sit and dry for 4 hours. Come back and use the fine or extra fine sandpaper and lightly sand the whole bench. Brush off any dust and apply a second coat of the polyurethane.

After it dries at least 8 hours ( I waited 2 days) you can bring it inside and use it lightly. It will be completely usable in about a week.

Your bench can be topped with pillows or left plain. To keep it looking beautiful for many years use wood cleaners for any messes.


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    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      Thank you Nikki ^_^ It's the middle of winter where I live so I can't do anything new at the moment... plus I just found out I'm pregnant so I'll have to wait until next year. The chemicals that are in stains and finishes are dangerous for unborn babies. I do have so many ideas though! I want to make a birdhouse with my son. Also since I grow roses and sometimes have an aphid problem I'd love to make a ladybug habitat. Both of those I hope to get around to this year since no chemicals would be involved. Thank you for your interest and wonderful comment ^_^

    • nikkiwikki profile image

      Nikki Wiks 4 years ago from Ireland

      I can't believe this was your first carpentry project!...well done - but I know Id injure myself doing something like this ...have you any smaller ones planned that I could do :)

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Cyoung, I hope this project goes well for you ^_^ We just love ours. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment!

    • cyoung35 profile image

      Chad Young 5 years ago from Corona, CA

      I have a hard time cutting a straight line but I think I could do this one. I'm going to try one and if it works, I'll build abother for the other side of the room. What a great hub!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Thank you so much MJ, Mickey, Mike, Mick and Mickey Joe! ^_^ It's wonderful you and your neighbor are so handy, I bet the two of you together can make or fix anything! You can ask me anything, anytime... I'm not a professional in the slightest so I can't guarantee a good answer though ^_^

      Thank you so much for your wonderful support!

    • profile image

      mjkearn 5 years ago

      Hi Mama Kim,

      WOW fabulously creative, I'm very impressed. I'm very D.I.Y. but always seem to over engineer everything. When I'm stuck I call on my farmer neighbour who takes a quick look, says try this and then leaves. He's great as he always leaves me saying "now why didn't I think of that". I should maybe stick to cars and bikes.

      Love this bench, I'll be asking you for tips. Great hub, voted, the rest and sharing,


    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Thank you idigwebsites. Everyone could use a little more storage ^_^ I'm so happy you found this helpful. Thank you for your great comment!

    • idigwebsites profile image

      idigwebsites 5 years ago from United States

      Great hub, Mama kin. Now I'll hav e another good way to create storage for my stuffs that needs immediate "home". thanks again!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Deepak, I'm so happy you liked it ^_^ thanks for commenting.

    • Deepak Chaturvedi profile image

      Deepak Chaturvedi 5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Mama kim thanks to share this useful hub with us.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Thanks Michelle! Your comment and share are greatly appreciated! I love the satisfaction after completing a project... I'm sure that's why I have so many hobbies. I always have to be making something ^_^

      After reading your child memories hub just a moment ago and then coming to this hub it made me realize that my love of building things out of wood came from my dad. He didn't leave me with many good memories, but his carpentry and artistic skills always left me in awe as a child. As always its so nice to see you my friend ^_^ thank you.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      I agree with Rajan there, Kim, amazing, amazing work. And it took lots of resilience and determination, a strong feeling I get as I read your hubs. I am sure though, that you felt a real sense of satisfaction after the bench was completed......it always feels that way when we finish doing stuff, doesn't it? This write was wonderful, and I"m sharing.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Rajan, Thank you so very much! Doing things by hand is so satisfying, I hope you get as much enjoyment from it as I do. ^_^

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      This is amazing work Mama Kim. The bench looks awesome. My hands are itching to get to work.

      Voted up, useful and awesome.

      Shared it.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Ya know... that sounds like a perfect idea. I will be doing the same ^_^

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      I've been getting ads about outdoor furniture and cushions being on sale at most retailers. I'm thinking about picking one up that I really like and maybe adjusting the dimensions to match it. :)

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Thank you TToombso8, We adore our bench so I'm sure you'll adore yours ^_^ I'm totally with you on the cushion! My original vision had a cushion I just have yet to find or make one.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Mama Kim, I love this idea, and SOOOO much more in my budget than some of those benches I've priced at furniture stores that cost a couple hundred dollars. I'm printing this out and putting it on hubby's TO DO list. VUM! I'm thinking a nice cushion from the some outdoor furniture (which just happens to be on clearance for end of season sales) would add a little rump cushioning. :) Thank you for this. :)

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      Oh thank you so much Patty! I wish you the very best as well.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Very Useful Information!!!! I love benches and anything that can be used for storage and look good at the same time!!! Awesome Job and I wish the very best for you and your family!!