Jan 072014

Here is the original blog post over at Lumberjocks.com

Shoe bench 9

To finish the bench I used my favorite finish, a few coats of thinned tung oil followed by paste wax. I like an oil finish because I think it leaves the most natural feeling surface. It may not be the most durable but I like the look and the feel and it is pretty easy to renew. This bench shouldn’t be seeing harsh use, not like a table or desk top.

I added a couple drawers for scarves or gloves, and I’ll probably end up with a row of coat hooks on the wall behind it, but it’s a start.

Anyhow, here it is done. We are glad to have it and even though most of the shoes are picked up, there’s still a pair or two kicked off in the doorway.

Jan 072014

Here is the original blog post over at Lumberjocks.com

Shoe Bench 8

Got the clamps off and now it’s time to clean up the glue joints and prep the surfaces for finish.

First thing to do was remove the clamps, flip the bench on it’s side, and plane all of the joints even.

After leveling the divider joints next came the ends. Bringing the half blind dovetails and through mortises level.

After the the ends and sides were level and smooth I ran around all of the corners, exterior and interior, with a hand held router and an eighth inch round over bit.

After that it was planing the seat smooth as glass.

Jan 072014

Here is the original blog post over at Lumberjocks.com

Shoe Bench 7

If the fun part was the joinery, the miserable part was the assembly.

The bench has 22 sliding dovetails, two 12 inch half blind dovetails, and 8 through mortises that all have to be glued, lined up, and slid together all before any clamps could be applied.

This would have been a good time to have some long open time glue and a cool day. Instead I was using yellow PVA glue on one of hottest days we’ve had all summer. It was clear some of the glue was drying before I could get the clamps on. I did get it all together and clamped up and there was squeeze out on most of the joints so the glue must of still had some life when I clamped it up.

If I were more patient I probably could have done the glue in stages, the ends, seat, and shelves. Then come back later and put in the dividers.

Jan 072014

Here is the original blog post over at Lumberjocks.com

Shoe Bench 6

Ok, here comes the interesting part, not the hardest part, but the most interesting part. Getting all of the joints to line up and come together snug without a lot of slop was a bit of a trick. The bench has 22 sliding dovetails, two ends with half blind dovetails, and 8 through wedged tenons. They all have to line up pretty close or things wont come together square.

I started with the half blind dovetails on the ends.

This gave me the inside dimension from the base of the dovetails down the side to the shelves.

I used a Porter Cable 4212 Dovetail Jig to cut the half blind dovetails and the sliding dovetail dados. Here is a picture of the jig setup to cut a sliding dovetail dado.

The Porter Cable is a pretty common jig, not too fancy or flexible but it cuts a standard dovetail with little setup or trouble. It can also cut through dovetails, sliding dovetails, dados, finger joints, and probably a few other joints if you’re creative, for a reasonable price and not too much fiddling.

After cutting the half blind dovetails on the end boards I setup and cut the sliding dovetail dados on the seat and shelves. I marked the edge of the dovetail dado referenced from the end of the self. I then transferred the mark to the mating shelf to make sure the marks were in the exact same place, and then used the mark to line up with the sliding dovetail slot on the dovetail jig.

To cut the dados I setup two routers, one with a 1/2 inch straight bit to hog out the bulk of the dovetail slot and one with the dovetail bit.

Obviously the dovetail has to be cut in a single pass at full depth. To ease the burden on the dovetail bit I first hogged out the bulk of the dado with a straight bit set just a smidge shallower than the final dovetail depth.

After that I just slid the shelf until the layout lines lined up with the edge of the dado slot on the jig and cut the dovetail dado in two passes, one pass with the straight bit and one pass with the dovetail bit.

The through wedge tenons turned out to be a bigger hassle than I had anticipated. Getting the through mortises clean and square without too much of a wedge angle turned out to be too much for me. The mortises turned out too big, the tenon wedge slots are uneven and at an angle. All in all not my best work.

I hogged out the through mortise with a forstner bit and “squared” up the mortise with a chisel. Squared is putting it politely.

I then chisled the angle for the wedge. It turns out the wedge angle needs to be pretty small. The tenon will only spread so much, in this case “so much” was not enough. I’m confident the tenons are wedged and are not coming out, but they did end up leaving a gap on the top and bottom of the mortises.

After that fiasco the rest was pretty easy. The dividers are all the same so I could cut the dovetails production style on my router table. Get it setup once and crank out all 4 cuts per divider.

I used the same dovetail bit moved from my portable router to my router table. I set the bit height to the same depth as the sliding dovetail dado. After a couple trial runs I set the fence offset to end up with a snug fit of the dividers into the dovetail dados.

Jan 072014

Here is the original blog post over at Lumberjocks.com

Shoe Bench 5

I looked at various woods for the bench and ended up deciding on poplar, why, because it was relatively cheap, and I could get it in wide boards.

I wanted to build the top of the bench as a single board. I sorted through the wide boards available and looked for one with some interesting figure. Here’s the one I finally settled on:

I didn’t want to split the seat but my jointer is only 6 inches wide. Unfortunately the board with the best figure had the most cup. The cup was pretty bad, over an 1/8 of an inch.

The seat is just over a foot wide, 61 inches long, has an eighth inch cup, and wont fit my jointer. So I have a couple options. I could make a planer sled and slide it through my benchtop planer. Or a better choice for me, mostly because I enjoy doing it, is to hand plane it flat on one side and then run it through the power planer to straighten up the other side.

After a bit of work on one side it’s starting to flatten out

Eventually I got the top and selves flattened out and ended up needing to work the sides too.

It turned out to be quite a bit of work but I enjoyed it. Kind of the quiet therapeutic woodworking I don’t get enough of. Anyhow, progress is being made.

Jan 072014

Here is the original blog post over at Lumberjocks.com

Shoe Bench 4

If you download and try to use the Sketchup design from the previous blog entry a couple of things changed in the final implementation. First I changed the dados to sliding dovetails and the through dovetails on the ends to half blind dovetails.

One of the design constraints I self imposed was to use only wood on wood with glue to assemble the bench, no metal fasteners. I decided on dovetails for the ends, sliding dovetails for the dividers, and wedged through tenons to fix the shelves.

The design uses wedged through tenons to hold the shelves

I figured with the through tenon end grain showing I probably want to use through dovetails for the ends. The layout and dimensions in the design are sized for the bench ends to have enough material to cut a through dovetail.

When I made the ends I decided to use half blind dovetails, I just think it looks better, so the ends are too big in the drawing.

You’ll either have to fix it in the drawing or modify the ends on the fly like I did.

The second change, from dados to sliding dovetails, does not require a drawing or material change. The sliding dovetails are the same depth as the dados so the cut list remains the same. Just cut a dovetail dado instead of a square dado in the shelves and cut dovetails on the divider boards.

Jan 072014

Here is the original blog post over at Lumberjocks.com

Shoe Bench 3

My shoe bench is going to be the cubby style, flat on the top to sit, little cubbies all in a row to organize shoes.

First things first it has to fit where I want it. I want to put the bench behind the entry door up against the wall, mostly where the shoes are piled now.

Take some measurements to find the maximum dimensions that will fit.

Around a foot deep and 60 – 62 inches long. How high do I want the seat. I want it to be comfortable, time to measure a few of my standard sitting spots where I put on my shoes and socks. Sitting on the edge of the bed, that’s where I put on my socks. It works, mostly cause that’s where my socks are, but it is really too high to be comfortable for a bench.

I have a little stool I keep near the door I sometime sit on to put on my boots. It is really too short to be comfortable, but it’s handy.

Probably the most comfortable height to put on and off my shoes is when I drag over a dining room chair. When my feet hurt or at the end of a long day a chair is most comfortable.

Let’s see, my dining room chairs are about 17 inches or so.

So it looks like I need the envelope of the bench to be around 17 inches high, about 12 inches deep, and between 60 and 62 inches long.

There is another thread here on Lumberjocks asking the question, do you use plans or not. Me, I always use plans, at least for anything more complex than a simple box, or cutting board, or something I’ve made a bunch of times. For something new, something relatively complex, I make a set of plans. And my favorite tool for making up a set of plans is Sketchup. Using Sketchup allows me to build the item digitally, work through the joinery, look at the design from all sides, create a cut list, and walk through the cut and assembly flow, all before I set foot in the shop.

Here’s my final design, saved in Sketchup 8. I measured a pair of shoes to get a feel for how large the cubbies need to be, bigger than 6 inches and less than 9 inches wide, 6 inches high, and however deep the bench is, in this case a foot.

And a cut list with dimensions. Not really a cut list, more of an unfolded layout, a cut picture??

Jan 072014

Here is the original blog post over at Lumberjocks.com

Shoe Bench 2

So now I know I want a shoe bench, the next step is to see what I can find. I like to make things but if it turns out I can find the perfect bench a dime a dozen that drops right in, I’m gonna buy it. And if I don’t find one for a dime, well at least I’ll get some ideas about what to make. The first place to look of course is the internet, a quick google search for shoe bench and shoebench turns up quite a few possibilities. Unfortunately most of them are too much money, too much ugly, too much low quality, too much the wrong size, and just too much wrong.

So I’m gonna make my own (you probably guessed that part being that this is a blog on lumberjocks).

So given that I’m gonna make it myself it’s time to look for some ideas. It looks like shoe benches come in mostly two styles, the shelf style and the cubby style

And of course no search would be complete without searching lumberjocks

There is this one and this one and this one and this one and this one.

All excellent benches, some close to what I’m thinking about, some not as much.

I’m definitely leaning to the cubby style bench. I know my kids, if I build it, they will fill it. If I build a shelf style bench it might keep the shoes off the floor but the shoes will end up tossed on the shelf in a mixed up pile, not on the floor but not much better. A cubby style it is.

Jan 072014

Here is the original blog post over at Lumberjocks.com

Shoe Bench 1

I live in a house with 7 people, 5 of them teenagers and 3 of the females. We have a LOT of shoes in our home. We don’t wear shoes in the house so we always kick off our shoes right in the entryway as we come in the front door. The result is often a huge pile of mixed up shoes. Here is a picture of just some of the shoes. This is after I cleaned up most of the shoes after throwing a fit and after everyone has already left the house for the day, this is just the small remainder of shoes when everyone is gone. Believe me, it is usually MUCH worse.

We need a better solution.

Obviously, based on the title of this blog entry, I want a shoe bench. This blog will chronicle my solution to our messy shoe pile.