Plywood Crates for the Shoe Bench

Finished shoe bench

The plywood crates for the shoe bench in our mud bench area were the after-thought of the project. The original plan was to use wicker baskets for the cubbies under the bench, but the cabinet was sized for the entryway, not standard basket sizes, and we weren't able to find any that fit these spaces. I decided to build some simple boxes to act as drawers instead.

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

The boxes are constructed from 1/2" birch plywood. I cut a rabbit in the edges of the front and back pieces, and also along the bottom of all 4 sides to accept a 1/4" plywood bottom.

I cut handles in the front and back by first drilling 2, 1" holes, spaced 4" apart and ~2-1/4" from the top. I then connect the holes with a jig saw, and refined the opening with some 80-grit sandpaper.

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

After everything was glued up, the boxes looked disproportioned. They were also too tight to the top, and it was difficult to pull them in and out of the cabinet. I shortened the boxes by cutting them down on the table saw, and then I had to cut new handles.

For finishing, I first wiped on a ~1 lb coat of shellac to prevent blotching, and then gave the outside of the boxes 2 coats of Early American stain. I then wiped on 3 more coats of shellac, and buffed it out with wax and 0000 steel wool to even out the sheen.

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

These boxes are designed to act like drawers, but also to be pulled out and set on the floor. Four, 1/4" spaces were epoxied to the bottom of the boxes, and then squares of felt were stuck to those spacers. This allows the boxes to slide easily in the cabinet, and they keep them from damaging the floor when the kids slide them around.

I've noticed that the kids tip the boxes down as they pull them out of the cubbies, and I think it would have been good to have applied felt to the entire bottom. The extra felt might keep the edges of the boxes from dragging across the cabinet face frame.

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

I cut, and brad-nailed in two 3/4" spacers inside the bottom of the cabinet, and gave them a couple coats of paint. These spacers brought the floor of the cabinet up to level with the face frame, and allow the boxes to slide easily in and out of the cabinet.

Sketch of the table saw jointing jig

My wife admitted she was surprised the boxes worked out. Her hopes were a little depressed after starting with baskets, first making the boxes too tall, and then needing 2 coats of stain to get a good match with the bench. But, they turned out well, and they go well with the overall look of the mud bench area.

 
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Copyright 2016 by Joseph Bobek, all rights reserved.