DIY Corner Bench

There are so many things I’d like to share with you from the last several months, but because I know I’ll never blog most of them, I’m choosing my faves. This wood-working project was something completely new to me, and very intimidating. Your first project in any craft is a big deal, you know? Despite being totally overwhelmed at times,  it was such a fun experience–probably mostly because I did it with my husband. We rarely craft together in the DIY-sense, and so this was just so fun; lots of podcasts and $5 pizza and headscratching and problem solving and lots and lots of saw dust.

Our little breakfast nook is tiny tiny tiny, and we knew that our only real option was to have a corner bench. Have you ever needed a corner bench? They are pretty hard to come by, there was just nothing out there that I even remotely liked.  Plus, to be honest, we needed something with such specific dimensions that it seemed like we had no other choice than to build. For Christmas last year I got Ana White‘s book The Handbuilt Home  (which I learned so much from), so this seemed like the perfect project to begin with. I came up with a  simple design (inspired by this ), and Allan drafted the plans using his fancy drafting software at work.  And then we just went for it.
mad mim_corner bench_3

We used poplar for the outer seat frame, and just 2X4’s for the inner box. We ended up having to completely rethink our leg plan, but we decided on some basic square oak legs, which we subsequently had to strengthen by adding diagonal supports (which were alder, and we had a friend help us with them). Despite the legs having two different types of wood, they stained remarkably the same. I used Minwax in Natural for the legs, and did a white paint stain for the seat.  Paint staining, for those of you who don’t know, is just a fancy way of saying I watered down white paint and then worked it into the wood with a rag. It was a little tricky getting even results, but I’m happy with how it turned out. I wanted it to look white washed, with the beautiful grain still visible. To seal the deal I used a wipe-on polyurethane which I highly recommend.  It gave such a lovely finish, and has been very durable in the 3 months since we finished the project. And it is just so much easier to apply than the paint or spray on. 
mad mim_corner bench_1

Although the diagonal supports were our solution for making our legs more stable, I ended up loving their design and am so happy we added them. I also love that we didn’t put legs in the middle, it’s plenty sturdy without them, and I think the openness looks cool. mad mim_corner bench_2

mad mim_corner bench_5

Pretty excited by all these tight joints!mad mim_corner bench_6I was so proud of this project, I can’t even tell you. We made plenty of mistakes, but overall I think we nailed it, (pun unintended but welcomed) and it’s been so sturdy and easy to clean which translates into massive success in my book. I would show you pics of it actually IN the nook, but we need a new table REAL bad. When I find one I promise I’ll give you a whole (tiny) kitchen tour!

12 Comments

the mither

You know your Grand Dad would be/is proud. Great job, and i love that you two had a great time doing it together.

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Beth

This is awesome! Why not use some four by four posts and a similar box design for a table? Grandad made one using metal braces under the table top. The top had a bit of an apron/lip. . .just about 3/4 of an inch. It was finished almost identically.
Your bench is absolutely beautiful. I’m surprised that you don’t need more support in the corner itself. Can you post a picture of the underside?

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Miriam

So because the area is SO teeny, we need to be able to push the table over the bench when we’re not eating, so it has to be a pedestal style table. After tons of deliberation, I think I’m just going to try and find a tulip style table off craigslist rather than build something. I really don’t love most of the pedestal style tables that are out there or that we could build, so hopefully I can find one of those for a good price!
The bench has a leg in the back corner, just not the front. I’ll see if I can post a pic.

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kristin

seriously seriously awesome. we have a breakfast nook that was remuddled into just a cabinet area but i dream of the day i can rip those out and put in some bench seating. your woodworking is soooo impressive!!

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Martha

That is just BONKERS amazing! SO GORGEOUS! I can tell that took a ton of effort. It just looks flawless. I want to see the underside, too!

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Miriam

You know I don’t, I’m sorry. We just designed it ourselves, and I don’t think we kept any of the specific plans other than what is on my blog. Sorry to not be more help!

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Dallas

That looks great. I love the color. I love how clean it looks. I was planning on making the storage bench style until I saw yours.
The oak legs, does the bench sit on top of them? Are the legs cut down on their top ends to fit into the bench?
Are the diagonal support pieces dado’d(?) I guess or are they attached to the legs with pocket screws?
I’m just curious.

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Miriam

Hi Dallas, sorry for the delay. The bench sits on top of the legs. I’m not sure what dado means, but the diagonal supports are attached with pocket screws. Hope that helps, it’s held up beautifully for three years, very sturdy!

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