Built-In Mudroom Bench

A friend wanted a built-in mudroom bench with storage for shoes, jackets, and so on.

Here is the result:


To make the project manageable, I built it in two independent parts — the storage bench, and the upper panel with shelf  and hooks.

The bench begins as a simple plywood box with a center divider:


I then added a frame to the front and sides using poplar:


I then routed a profile on all the rails and stiles:


Once the base of the bench was built, I moved on to the bench top. This was simply two 1″ thick pieces of cherry stock edge joined together:


The front edge is rounded over, and the top is finished with gel stain and satin poly:


With the addition of two adjustable shelves, the bench storage part of the project was complete:


Now onto the upper portion. Similar to the sides of the bench, this was a large sheet of plywood with solid poplar rails and stiles attached via pocket screws to simulate a frame and panel design – credit to this episode of This Old House for this approach. Here it is without the shelf standing behind the bench:


Again, I routed the interiors of the frames with an ogee bit, matching the bench.

I brought both pieces over separately for installation. To build the piece flush to the wall, the first and certainly scariest step was to trim away the existing baseboard molding – after which we were surprised to find no drywall behind it:


I slid the bench into place, leveled it with shims, and secured it to the studs:


We then placed the top on the bench and secured it to the studs:


The bottom was trimmed to the floor with quarter round molding to match the baseboards, and then the whole piece was painted white to match the house’s interior trim color:


The result:


White Oak Credenza

It was time to replace the old dresser that served as a TV stand in our living room with something nicer. Inspired by mid-century modern but also modern Japanese construction, with its emphasis on simple, clean lines and little ornamentation, I built one from white oak:



Not too many build pictures of this project. Here it is mostly finished. The panels are rift-sawn white oak plywood, and the frames are quartersawn white oak, all joined using dowels:


Fitting the drawers using playing cards:


Finished with just a couple coats of General Finishes Satin Arm-R-Seal. Here’s a detail of the corner that I like:


Wooden Seats for Metal Stools

I built wooden seats for a friend’s attractive, but uncomfortable, metal stools.

The seats were made from a single 8′, 6″ wide board of cherry. Joined two pieces together for each square, then traced the stool shape onto that square and cut it out with the jigsaw. Then routed a roundover on both sides.


Finished with Tried-And-True oil and beeswax:



Mid-Century Modern Dresser

I finally finished my first commissioned piece, and my largest project yet — a mid-century modern dresser.


The case is mitered cherry veneer plywood, and the drawers are solid cherry and poplar. The finish is “Candlelight” gel stain and satin Arm-R-Seal . The knobs are from North Woods Hardware.


It is mitered both on the case joints, for a seamless edge, and on the face frame. Mitering these large pieces accurately was a challenge. I built a large crosscut sled for the table saw just for these miters:


Which produced nice results (here, you can see the edge banding applied to the face miters, while the to-be-joined miters are raw):


I joined them with dowels – yes, dowels – using the DowelMax jig, six on each joint:


The case has two trim pieces: one horizontal piece separating the upper small drawers from the rest, and one vertical piece. These were challenging also in that they are curved, and meet at a curve. I cut this joint by hand:


Here’s where that joint appears:


The drawers are made of poplar. I decided to do these using box joints. Here’s the end result:


And here’s a rather dramatic picture of the unfinished drawer:


I finished the outside of the drawers with amber shellac. I would not choose amber shellac again; perhaps unsurprisingly, it gave the drawers too yellowish a tint.

Side note: I went ahead and uploaded the following picture of the drawer onto the Wikipedia page for “finger joint“:


All in all, I’m pleased with the result:



Douglas Fir Kitchen Table

Our cheap kitchen table was falling apart, so I undertook to make a new one that was better constructed and slightly bigger. After looking over a variety of woods, I chose vertical grain Douglas fir for its warm color, relatively simple grain pattern, and mid-range cost. I followed the plan from the book “Dining Tables.” Here is the result:


I began with the table top, milling the boards and clamping them with cauls:


Then the base. This would be my first attempt at mortise and tenons. Here’s the start of the aprons cut to length, without tenons:


And here is the start of mortising the legs – this was painful, even with a mortising machine:


Then, tapering the legs using a tapering jig on the table saw:


Then, making the corresponding tenons on the aprons – this was done with a regular blade on the table saw, and was less painful.


Here are the legs and aprons complete:


Table base assembled, with groove for the z-clips to hold the tabletop:


Installed corner blocks:


Testing out the table top:


Finished with about five coats of satin Arm-R-Seal: