Shoe Bench

Finished shoe bench

My wife asked for a mud bench area where the kids could keep their coats, backpacks, and shoes. I started out the area by building a shoe bench from 3/4-inch plywood and a 5/4 red oak top.

More information about the design of the bench is available at the lead article, Mud Bench Area.

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

The bench is a designed as a rectangle with one corner clipped at 45°. I first cut a gauge block on my miter saw to 22.5°, and used it to set the table saw blade for cutting the edges along that corner. I then sized everything to length with the blade set to 90°, and cut a ~1/4" rabbit in the back of the top, bottom, and two straight sides.

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

To clip the corner of the top and bottom, I clamped them together, and used my circular saw to cut the corner off both pieces at the same time. I used a straight edge as a guide for the saw, and I found the distance to set it away from the cut by adding the (5 1/8") distance between the blade and the edge of the saw base in Sketchup. However, (I think) you can multiply that distance by the square root of 2, and add it to ends of the cut line.

How to line up guide for cutting angle

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

Everything is joined with glue and pocket screws. I assembled the top, bottom, and two straight sides first, and then attached the angle piece last. I used 1-1/4" brad to hold everything in place until I could get the pocket screws driven.

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

The face frame is made from 3/4" poplar joined together with pocket screws. I ripped the 22.5° edge using the same gauge block I used for the sides. The face frame is attached to the carcase using glue and brads.

The center divider was slid in after the face frame was attached, and it is very lightly glued and screwed to the top and bottom with 1-1/4" dry wall screws.

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

To glue up the toe kick, I first attached the two back pieces with glue and brad nails. The other three pieces were taped together along their 22.5° edges and fit to the back frame. I used a speed square to line up one edge, and a square block to get the other edge close. Squareness isn't critical, but it was good to be close.

The toe kick is attached to the cabinet with pocket screws (no glue). The long edge is placed 2" back from the front of the cabinet and the side is as close as possible (since it isn't perfectly square).

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig
The installation started by first finding the studs, and then cutting pocket holes in the cabinet top at those locations. The top is attached to the wall using 2-1/2" screws through these pockets into the studs.

I had to move over an electrical outlet that I failed to consider when I designed the mud bench area. Luckily, the garage is on the other side of this wall, and I was able to cut the drywall on the backside, and move the outlet over with little damage/finishing inside the house.

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

The top started from 3, 5/4 red oak boards. I jointed the board edges on the table saw using my jointing sled, and then cut dowel holes to help with alignment. I only used 3 dowels for this glue up, and I think a few more might have helped keep the top a little flatter.

After the glue up, I used a combination of my random orbit sander and a sanding block with 80-grit paper to flatten the top. I used the orbit sander to do most of the work getting the seems flush, and then I went back and sanded across the grain using the sanding block to (mostly) flatten the board.

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

I scribed the top to the wall using a jig saw, and cut the outside edges to give me a 1" overhang. I then clipped the corner off exactly like I did for the cabinet.

The corners were rounded with a 1/4" round over bit with about half of the cutter hidden so that it just clipped the edges. I probably could have done this with sand paper, but the router probably gave me a more consistent edge.

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

The top was sanded with 120-grit paper. I gave the end grain an additional sanding with 150 and 220 grit paper to try and keep it from absorbing too much stain. The top was stained with Early American stain, and given 5 coats of wipe-on-poly.

To attach the top, I drilled 4 holes in the top of the cabinet, and elongated the holes by tilting my drill back and forth. The top is attached to the cabinet using 4 pocket-hole screws through these elongated holes.

Feel free to send me any comments, suggestions, or questions through my Contact Page.
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Copyright 2016 by Joseph Bobek, all rights reserved.