CREDIT: Photo: Amanda Moore
In this 'Make Stuff by Hand’ series of posts I will share items built using minimal tools. Using your creativity to build things which can be used in your home is incredibly rewarding. However, watching YouTube videos by people with an entire workshop setup can be disheartening. What if all you've got is a drill and a saw?
Here I outline the steps in making a plywood storage bench:
1. Measure your space
The instructions and cutting list included here will show the design for a 1.5m x 350mm bench to fit the space between two bookcases and create a seat under a window. You may need to adjust these dimensions to work with your particular space.
2. Choose your materials
Spruce plywood has been used for this project and can be purchased at a timber yard or popular DIY store. They should be able to cut it for you. The cutting list here is based on an 18mm material thickness.
3. Draw up your design
Not everyone has 3D CAD software but you can download software like Sketchup for free, www.sketchup.com/plans-and-pricing/sketchup-free. You can model your item to scale and then take it apart and lay the pieces out into a cutting list. You want to try and lay out your pieces so that you require as few sheets of plywood as possible.
Here I managed to get all of the pieces to fit onto one standard sheet of plywood:
CREDIT: Drawings: Amanda Moore
REMEMBER to allow for the saw blade thickness, so you will need a little wastage of material as allowed here.
4. Take your cutting list to a supplier
Choose your material and try to get the least cr*ppy pieces. There is often one bad side with standard construction plywood and you could make this the bottom, back or inside. Sorry guys outside of the UK, I only do metric.
CREDIT: Drawing: Amanda Moore
5. Choose either brackets or strip wood to make the joints
This project used strip wood as it was cheaper. You could use small brackets though. You will also use wood glue to create stronger joints. Make sure that your wood screws are not too long, ie; less than the thickness of the panel material plus the strip wood or bracket thickness.
I also used hand clamps to help hold things in place and used strip wood at most joints for strength. You can see the 'bad' side of the timber being situated inside the bench.
6. Hinges and openers
You can use individual hinges or continuous piano hinge which can be cut to size.
I also decided to cut out four slots to allow you to open the lids. This involved drilling good-sized holes to create each curved corner and simply cutting with a saw and chiselling out.
Lightly sand any sharp edges and varnish the bench to show off the natural wood grains. I chose to paint the interior of the bench in a chalk paint by Rustoleum, www.rustoleum.com/product-catalog/consumer-brands/chalked/.
I also added restrictor hinges for child safety, and to stop the lids hitting the wall, plus sticky felt pads to the underside to allow the bench to be moved around without scuffing the floor.
Finally I decided to sew two cushions from wool felt with wadding inside and fitted them with velcro, but this isn't necessary.
What am I doing here? I'm collecting sea water to fill 1,000 bottles and hang them from a scaffold inside an old ruin. Why? Why not?