Mod Kitchen Furniture DIY

This kitchen bench post been a long time coming. I started it last fall and have been sitting on it since sometime in early spring. For some reason or other I never got around to finishing it. It’s just as well, though. It’s given us some time to live with the benches and table for a bit so I can be more confident that the design and build is solid. (For a little back story you can read the post here. If you want to read the design philosophy I’ve borrowed from Enzo Marri for this project, you can read this post.)

This (sorta) Old Life:  kitchen curtains

The bench and table project were part of a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) I signed up for the spring before last. The goal for me was to try out an online course and at the same time create a bench and table seating area in our kitchen. I didn’t like the course much but was glad to have solved our kitchen eating area design challenge. It wasn’t without trouble. Here’s a post about my table top failure–and how I eventually made the table you see in the pic above.

Here’s a good front view looking down on the bench. It’ll seat 4 comfortably.

I fell in love with Enzo Marri’s simple designs when I first saw them. I was also influenced by the furniture that Rita and I saw at the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House. I liked the simplicity of both. The furniture had a certain integrity to it because it wasn’t trying to be anything in particular. It wasn’t bashful about being simple.

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When Lloyd Wright designed and built a house, it included the furniture, much of which is built-in.

Anyway, I’m excited to share the designs with you today. I really like the simplicity of the plan and the construction. Both benches are built out of only 2 dimensions of lumber. Everything is cut from 2 sheets of 3/4 inch plywood. No glue was used in either bench and everything is screwed together with 1 1/4 inch screws.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI bought the plywood from Home Depot and had it ripped into 8 inch strips at the store. That gave me 5 strips at 8 inches, with the last being a bit narrower because of cut waste. The narrow one I cut into 3 2 inch strips at home on my table saw. I did this for both pieces of plywood so I ended up with ten 8-inch strips and six- 2-inch strips. This was more than enough for both benches.

This photo does a pretty good job of showing how the benches sit in the kitchen.

This photo does a pretty good job of showing how the benches sit in the kitchen.( Ignore the wall under the window. Wallpaper removal was in progress when this shot was taken. :) ) You’ll see 3 different benches in the photos. The short one closest to you is a storage bench with a flip up top. The one in the middle is the one I’ll detail how to build.

So, in the end I was working with 8-inch and 2-inch wide boards. I decided to go with plywood instead of pine boards because the quality of pine board is not so great these days and they are quite a bit more expensive than plywood. Plywood is flat and straight and easier to work with.  (This would be easy enough to do with pine boards, though. You’d have to be careful because an 8 inch wide pine board is actually closer to 7 3/4 inches and a 2 inch wide board is 1 3/4 inches. It’ll still work fine you’ll just have to adjust measurements where necessary.)

I’ll start with a schematic of the two benches below:

bench1 bench2

This should give you all the cut pieces you need for each bench. I think that even without some pictures you could likely figure out the build procedure, as they are fairly simple affairs. I’ll show some photos, though, and give a bit of detail for the second bench to help you get started should you want to make one.

I started with the legs. Not much to see here. I pre drilled the holes and used a counter sink bit to make the screw heads sit flush. No glue. 1 1/4 inch screws.

I started with the sides. Not much to see here. I pre-drilled the holes and used a counter sink bit to make the screw heads sit flush. No glue. 1 1/4 inch screws.

This bench had 3 “sides” as it needs one in the middle for extra support. Build all three of those first. Then add the front and back pieces to the seat.

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6 screws for the front and 6 for the back. Hand clamps make the work easier.

6 screws for the front and 6 for the back. Hand clamps make the work easier.

The next step is a bit tricky. We need to find the angle of the seat back. What I wanted was for the seat back to sit flush against the wall AND for the back of the seat bottom to sit flush. I don’t have a picture of the next part so you’ll have to bear with me and imagine.

Lay the bench on its back on the floor and place the support so that its top is touching the floor and its bottom is in line with the bottom edge of the seat. Mark the location with a pencil and/or clamp in place. This will give you the exact angle you need. Here’s a picture that might help. No real angle measurement required.

I hope this helps to show how to get the back rest supper angle. Really easy. Do all three with the bench lying on the floor on it's back and they'll all be the same.

I hope this helps to show how to get the back rest supper angle. Really easy. Do all three with the bench lying on the floor on its back and they’ll all be the same. (And please don’t spend too much time noticing the big typo that I’m not going to take the time to fix.)

Once you get this far you’ve done the hard parts. The seat back should go on easy with 6 screws. For the seat bottom I placed all the boards in place and spaced them by eye. There is one that you’ll have to notch out to make it fit around the center back support post. The seat takes a lot of screws so take your time and counter sink all the holes.

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It seems like there should be more stuff to say about how to make these but I can’t think of what it could be. I did sand all the parts well before doing any assembly. I didn’t apply any finish until after assembly. What else… I put felt pads on the feet to protect the floor.

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The extra little bench you see on the left side was built with storage in it as a place to drop our laptop bags and such, which you can see in the next pic.

Here’s a shot of the little storage bench with the lid up. It holds quite a bit of stuff.

And that’s pretty much it. Except for this last gratuitous shot which is really only about wanting to show off my awesome green grass. :-)

Questions?

Feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll answer ASAP. Oh, and if you want to know how to build the chairs in the header image, you can find that here.