In case you thought I was one of those people who always have a plan mapped out and get my work done ahead of time, you would be wrong. When I hatched the hairbrained scheme to do a curb appeal month, I really only had a couple projects in mind. And since May this year has five weeks, I was scrambling to come up with a project to make a post about this week. For those who are interested, here’s how it went down. I scoured Pinterest for hours looking for something to spark an idea that hadn’t already been done to death and would work for my home. Oh, and I only had a week to work on it. I decided a storage bench to hide all of my Amazon packages would be pretty awesome. I started the design process and hated everything. It just wasn’t coming together well. I even decided that I just wasn’t going to do anything. Then, true to my nature, I woke up the next day with a new idea and decided the storage bench idea was back on! In the span of four days, the idea was formed, plans were drawn, and a bench was built. And here we are today where I tell you all about it.
Like many of you (hopefully so I don’t feel so alone), I am an Amazon addict. Yeah, I’m not happy that the yearly fee just went up but I’ve more than got my money’s worth in would be shipping charges. Anywho, my mailman (who is also a woodworking fanatic and offered to let me borrow his tools even though I don’t know his name) tries his best to hide my packages from street view but I wanted to make it a little easier for him. I also didn’t want it to actually look like it was just an Amazon package storage bench. In steps one of my favorite patterns of the moment – herringbone. Without further ado, here’s the design I came up with.
Pretty cute, right? I love this color combination but I ultimately went with one a little different and I’ll tell you why when I get to that point. Also, I have made up some plans for you to build your own bench. Get them here!
First things first, after you buy the lumber, is to make your cuts. There are a ton of cuts on this build simply because of the herringbone pattern. If you choose to go with something other than herringbone, you won’t have to cut as much. To make it easier on myself, I made all my dimensional cuts before starting the bench. When you get to the cuts that make up the herringbone pattern, I cannot urge you enough to use a stop block. This will ensure that you have repeatable cuts (because having all of the pieces the same size is important) and it makes it go so much faster. To add a stop block, all you have to do is clamp a scrap piece of wood at the appropriate distance. Make sure that sucker is clamped tight and check it periodically if you need to. Here was what my stop block setup looked like.
For this bench, I am happy to say that I was able to use scraps for half of it. Less money spent plus clearing out the scrap bin equals a win in my book.
We’ll break the build down into three sections – the base, the lid, and the inserts. While working on the bench, I moved about from section to section as I waited on pieces to dry. To keep it easier on you to read, I’ll just tell it like I did it one section at a time.
The base is super simple. Start by drilling pocket holes in the 1x4s that make up the side and end bracing of the bench.
I began assembling them by attaching a long brace to one of the 2×4 legs at the top using 1 ¼” pocket hole screws. Ensure that the joint is flush against the front.
For the bottom brace, I marked a line four inches from the bottom. This line will be the bottom of my bottom brace.
I attached that brace in the same way as the first. Repeat these steps for all four sides.
The final step for the base of the bench was to attach the 2x4s that made up the floor. I wanted there to be small spaces between each board to allow for easy clean out if needed, especially since this is an outdoor bench. Two of the floor boards are going to be butted up against each side. You may notice that some adjustments will have to be made before these two boards can fit in. You can either cut a piece out of the board to wrap it around the legs or you can do what I did – rip down the 2×4 to fit in the space. The space was 2 ¾” wide and 37” long so I cut the boards to fit.
Using pocket hole screws, I attached all of the floor boards. I used 2 ½” pocket hole screws for the two pieces on the sides and 1 ¼” screws for the rest. Be sure to shift the holes to one side of the board for the two pieces that go on the sides to screw into the legs. Also, ensure the pocket holes are facing down and there is an equal-ish space between each board.
Here’s the finished base!
Now that the base is all assembled, you can sand it down to make sure all is smooth and the joints are flush. Fill any holes with wood filler, as you see fit. Little secret? I didn’t use any wood filler on this project. I knew I was going to paint it and the paint would fill anything I needed to my satisfaction. Speaking of paint, now is when I would recommend painting (or staining) your base, especially if you are going for a two-tone look. I chose to paint my base. I really wanted to bring in some fun colors on this bench but I didn’t want to compete with the vibrant color of the bricks on my house or the deep blue of the newly painted front door. I ultimately decided to paint it the same color as the wood accents of my house.
To be honest with you all, I wasn’t in love with this paint color and really not looking forward to using it. But when I got it on the base, I completely changed my mind.
I knew that I would need a dark color stain to compliment this paint color so I chose Rustoleum’s Kona.
This leads me right into the second section – the lid. I cut six pieces of 1×4 to 42 inches. I had designed the bench to be 40” wide by 20” deep (and 18” tall if anyone needs that measurement, too). These six pieces of 1×4 allowed me to have an inch hanging over each side and an inch hanging over the front. I wanted one board to be attached to the bench and be the pivot point for the lid. I stained all of the boards individually before I glued them together. You may think it’s odd to stain them first but I do it this way because then I know that every surface is covered in case they don’t happen to fit together just right. There is nothing more annoying to me (I’m sure that’s a lie but it’s still really annoying) than when I get a panel all glued and stained up just to find a small little crack of natural wood staring back at me. Once the stain was dry, I glued five of the boards together with wood glue.
Clamps are your best friend and you can’t ever have too many. If in doubt, add one more. I wanted this thing to be as flat as possible.
When I was satisfied that the glue was dry, I took my router and put a chamfer on three sides (top and bottom) of the lid and the single piece that would be screwed into the bench.
Adding a chamfer or other profile just gives the whole thing an extra special touch. It’s by no means necessary but it sure makes it look nice. I only did it on three sides because I wanted the sides where the hinges will go to be square. Because I know had natural wood showing again, I just ran a rag with a bit of stain over the parts I used my router on. It may not make sense to do this after I stain but not everything I do makes sense to others. When everything was dry, I applied a few coats of poly designed for outdoors. I like Spar Urethane.
Now for the showstopper – the inserts! This was the most time-consuming part but it was also the most fun. After I cut all of the pieces for the herringbone pattern, I used my router to run a chamfer bit around them.
As with the lid, this is not a necessary step but I feel that the pattern can sometimes get lost in the end so the added detail helps it stand out.
I sanded them down lightly to knock down any rough edges then stained them with Kona on the top and the edges.
I also stained the fronts of the backers in case the herringbone pieces didn’t fit together just right and the backer will blend in with the rest of the pieces.
In order to have your pattern lined up well, it’s important for you to start it off right. Find the center of your backer lengthwise and make a mark. (I photographed this part near the beginning of the build so you will see some unstained pieces.)
Then find the center of the short edge of one of the herringbone pieces.
Using a speed square to help you maintain a 45 degree angle, line the center marks up at the top of backer.
Apply glue to either the herringbone pieces or the backer (in small sections so the glued doesn’t dry up) when you lay the pieces on the backer. Continue with the pattern until you have covered a majority of the backer.
Pay close attention to the pattern because it’s very easy to get lax and get one or two pieces wrong. I may or may not have had that happen to me.
You’ll want to extend the pattern to the edges of the short sides but it is not necessary to extend it all the way to the top and bottom. The brace pieces of the base will cover some of the gaps.
When the glue was dry, I flipped the insert over and put a few finishing nails in the back to help secure the pieces. I then trimmed off the excess overhang.
I did this on my table saw and it was difficult because I could not square it up against a fence. Learn from my mistake and use a circular saw or even a jig saw to trim it off.
When the inserts were all trimmed up, I slid them in their slots on the base and nailed them in place with finishing nails.
It was at this time that I realized I should have applied poly to the inserts before I put them in but I didn’t and made do. I applied the Spar Urethane to the inserts while they were in place.
To add a little decorative interest and cover any gaps in the sides, I decided to add some trim pieces around the herringbone inserts. I chose a cove profile but any profile would work as long as one side is not wider than ¾”. I got thrown for a loop on cutting the cove trim. It had to be done at a 45 degree angle but I couldn’t just throw it on the miter saw and cut away. I had to position it just right. The cove trim had to be cut like I’ve heard crown moulding should be cut – backwards and upside down. I drew my lines on the square portion of the trim (the back) and lined it up on the saw with the back facing me. Once I had the first good piece cut, I used it as a template for the rest of them. I may have wasted a full 8’ piece of trim but many lessons were learned. (I know this is all probably very confusing. As I was trying to figure it all out – and get the bench finished – I didn’t take any pictures. I’ll update this section of the post at a later time with pictures.)
I painted the trim the same color as the bench then put it in position and used a pin nailer to attach it.
Much like a lot of projects, I don’t think of something cool until after the fact. The trim would have been a good opportunity to work in another color for a pop of personality.
After I had the inserts in place, I didn’t like the jagged look of the herringbone edge pieces inside the bench. I know it wouldn’t hardly be seen by anyone but me and the mailman but I just had to cover it. I had some very thin strips that I had ripped off some boards a while back that fit perfectly. They were nailed in place then I painted the inside and tops of the inserts to match the rest of the bench.
We’re almost there, folks! It’s time to attach the lid. Starting with the single piece, I lined it up to be flush with the back of the bench and have an inch of overhang on each side. I screwed it into the legs using two 1 ¼” wood screws on each side.
Next were the hinges. There are any number of hinge types you can use for this. My options were limited in my small town and short deadline so I chose a package of 3” surface mounted hinges that had a slim profile.
I positioned them 4” from each end and screwed them in place. I made sure the barrel of the hinge (for lack of a better term) sits just a hair above the top of the board to allow for movement. With the lid lying on top of the board I just attached as though the lid were open (bottom facing up), I lined up the edges and screwed the hinges to the lid.
It opened and closed like a dream!
I also added a couple rubber bumpers to the front corners of the bench to prevent damage and to keep the lid from sticking to the base of the bench until the paint cured.
And that’s it! I shared some sneak peeks of it in my Instagram stories and it seems everyone else loved it as much as I do.
Look how well my Amazon packages fit in here!
Now that I have it done, I can’t wait until I can tell the mailman he has a new hidey hole. Something tells me he won’t be as excited as I am. Hahaha!
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