Banquette first furniture attempt #1: The beginning

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Blog entry by Woodchuck4 posted 11-06-2012 03:53 AM 47432 reads 4 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Banquette first furniture attempt series Part 2: Almost done (Bad first time blogging) »

Update (12-2-12)

So i’ve made the leap and started the build. I decided to make the structure framing out of 3/4” domestic birch. I pocket hole and glued the end pieces and then used 3” screws and glue to attached the horizontal supports to the end pieces. after some test sits from multiple people of different weights, it seems to hold up very well and have no flex at all. On the plus side the framing seems to be surprisingly light as well.

I now have ran into a situation I need to make a decision on. The plywood seats will lift up to allow for storage underneath. I originally bought some piano hinges, but after looking at it and thinking, I’m now debating on if there might be a better hinge. The piano hinge would work, but would also be seen and have a seam/crack on either side since the hinge wouldn’t go the complete length of the seat. I’m trying to decide if I could use some type of chest/box lid hinge or some type of cabinet hinge that would be mounted underneath and allow for a cleaner look on the top. I’m still researching this, but if anyone has done something like that before, please let me know what you did or any ideas you might have.

Once I get the hinge thing figured out it’ll be time to cut the finished ply. I went with maple ply for the seat, seat back, and the back back of the banquette. I will update more as I get more progress made. Here are some pics. It looks to be a good fit in the kitchen breakfast area.

P.S. – I do have horizontal supports for the back. I just don’t have them on there because with the hinge thing I’m trying to decide where exactly I will locate them. Also because I have mortises cut out into them for a support to run from the front to the back of the seat in in the middle of the large open seat area.


To start off, I started this as a forum post and decided to move it to a blog to not only get help/input along the way, but to also keep those that help updated on how it comes along.

Originally posted in forum (10-5-12)

So, a little back story….we were borrowing our kitchen table and chairs from a friend of the family, and a month ago they needed it back. we now have a big empty breakfast area. I’ve been holding off the wife from buying something with the promise that I would build her a banquette. So I went to Google images and got a lot of different designs for her to choose from. Below is the one she choose. Ours will be slightly different. It will have that nice end on both ends and we won’t have the cut out in the back rest for (what i’m guessing was a window).

Now i’m one to research to the nth degree. There are some key things I need help on, but being my first big furniture build attempt i’m welcoming any and all advise, tips, help, 2 cents, etc. that anyone wants to throw into the ring.

A few of the things I need help with:

1) the structure/framing? I want it to be sturdy but not weight a million pounds. would 1×4s, 2×4s or what be best to create the frame? I’ve seen lots of ways people have done it but I’m just not sure which direction to run.

2) I have made some raised panel doors before, and so the drawer and “face” frame around it I think I understand. What is getting me is what looks like 4×4 post on the front corner and the arch piece. Is that boards face glued, or a structure that was veneered? It might be obvious, but being such a new woodworker my knowledge and “deconstructing” abilities are limited.

3) Honestly, i’m not even sure what wood to use for the finish pieces. Since my wife would like it to be stained I know I need to pay attention to making sure to hide end grains, type of wood, and other fine touches that take it from a beginner attempt to that fine piece of furniture that people admire and think you spent a fortune on.

I’m good at following directions and I love problem solving, but this is one project I think is too big to have multiple tries at it so I’d really like to get it right the first time.

I appreciate everyone that took to time to read this cry for help from a young starter, and I don’t be shy to tell me I’m just plain crazy for even thinking of attempting this. I am the type that seems to pick the big hill to climb and the run up it.


Update (11-5-12)

So, I’ve had a busy past 4 weeks, but I FINALLY got some time in the garage this past weekend to try out some tests on this project.

Here is a sample/experimental section that I made to see if the seat height, seat depth, back height, and back angle all worked and were comfortable….AKA if they passed the wife test. Happy to report she was pleased with all dimensions.

For this test I used 1×4 pine for most of the structure minus the two back side pieces. they required about 5-1/2” to account for the angle cut in them. I laid out the 10 degree angle on the back pieces, then cut about 1/16th from the line with a circular saw and sanded to the line. The plywood is 1/4” (because that’s what I had around the garage) but the real thing will have 1/2”. I did a 10 degree bevel on the back plywood panel so it set flush on the seat and at the top of the back. The seat was sturdy, no wiggle, or movement on it.

So my question is….does anyone see a design/structural flaw with this method or assembly? Is there an easier or better way to do this? My logic was by cutting the back angle into the single piece that is also the back leg would be the strogest method. Plus the person would be sitting against the edge of the board. Again, this is my beginners logic…I could be totally off.

The seat support that you see in the 3rd picture. I’m thinking of doing a slight dado in the front/rear cross supports and stand that board on edge for strength. I’m still working on this part of it. The reason being is I would like the support, but I am also going to make the instead of this storage and would like to be able to remove the cross support to put things in and then re-insert it.

I appreciate any and all feedback….good, bad, or ugly. I want to make this right and who better to ask then all you great and experienced woodworkers on here.

-- Nathan, Fort Worth TX

6 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4179 days

#1 posted 11-06-2012 05:31 AM

Can I just call you with help? I do this for a living.

Sorry I did not see your earlier post.

You have a great design, it is nicer than the one I did.

Click for details

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2565 days

#2 posted 11-06-2012 08:03 PM

Cool, another local guy. As for the sturdiness of your project, I have to ask what may be a silly question. Have you tried sitting in it? If so, how did it feel? Once you add more sections, it’ll be even more sturdy.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Woodchuck4's profile


28 posts in 2239 days

#3 posted 11-07-2012 02:41 AM

@Todd – Yeah, that would be really great! That is exactly what I was hoping for. To talk to someone that really does have a real knowledge and willing to teach a young buck. I’ll send you a PM with my contact info.

@BTimmons – Is it bad my first thought when I read you post and saw “Arlington” my first thought was, “Ooohh…he is really close to Rockler!”? I like meeting local people on here. I really like that jewerly box you made for your wife. I believe there are no stupid questions. I have actually sat on it. I sat on it, had the wife sit on it, and a buddy. That way I had multiple height of people test it out. It was very sturdy…I went as far as to stand and do a few jumps on it. I think I’ll make the real thing in two sections. One longer than the other to travel to the corner and the shorter one butting up to it.

-- Nathan, Fort Worth TX

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2565 days

#4 posted 11-07-2012 04:36 AM


Thanks (about the jewelry box)! Yeah, I’m about a ten minute drive from Rockler. It’s nice when I have a little extra to throw around, which isn’t that often.

As for the stability of the project at hand, it seems ok to me. Everything else is just trim work from here.

-- Brian Timmons -

View robscastle's profile


5168 posts in 2284 days

#5 posted 03-27-2015 08:30 AM


Although a smaller scale here is a similar design I made some years ago for a friends daughter

So your design concept is OK.

If you were to use them ouside the only mod I would consider is possibly raise the height of the horizontal sections at the leg bases slightly to allow use on uneven surfaces, but that not they were designed for.

Good Job!

-- Regards Rob

View Woodchuck4's profile


28 posts in 2239 days

#6 posted 03-30-2015 02:11 AM

@Robert – Thanks for commenting. I should have updated this a LONG time ago too. It’s still not finished (sadly), but i’m in the sanding phase in prep for stain. I’ll post some updated pictures soon.

-- Nathan, Fort Worth TX

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