Modern Shoe Bench

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Project by Waldo88 posted 11-02-2015 03:00 AM 1231 views 8 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch


This was designed to fit a space by our back door, sized just right so the door doesn’t touch it when opened. With a toddler in the house and another on the way, having a place to store shoes and a bench to make it easier to help the kids put them on is key.

The main feature of the design is that the cubbies appear to float under the bench, with a constant 1” gap all the way around.

- The bench is made by stack laminating baltic birch plywood strips, with walnut end strips.

- The cubbies are made from 1/2” plywood with thick maple edge banding.

- The cubbies and bench are not attached, spacer blocks made from scrap maintain the gap.


For the bench, pieces of Baltic birch were cut into strips and glued together. Dowels run through the strips to ensure alignment during gluing. The strips were cut to form fingers on both the top and side, those fingers forming a box joint to connect each side to the top. Hand planes were used to flatten the top. The bench was finished with Danish oil at first and a few coats of lacquer once it completely dried.

The cubbies were assembled using standard frameless case construction with rabbets and mortises for each joint. I used maple strips on both the back and front, the back piece was mortised into the maple strips instead of the plywood. The cubbies were painted prior to gluing on the thick edge banding. Following gluing, a coat of lacquer was sprayed on the cubbies.

A much more detailed write up of the design and construction can be found at:

Thanks for reading!

5 comments so far

View SuperCubber's profile


834 posts in 1707 days

#1 posted 11-02-2015 01:10 PM

Nice job! I like the way it appears to float.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

View hairy's profile


2377 posts in 2955 days

#2 posted 11-02-2015 01:57 PM


-- stay thirsty my friends...

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1170 posts in 1136 days

#3 posted 11-02-2015 04:04 PM

Like it! A favorite for sure.
The stacked plywood looks great and gives the bench charater. Not so sure about the rounded edges though.
Looking forward to more CMC stuff from your shop!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Bill_Steele's profile


115 posts in 1154 days

#4 posted 11-02-2015 04:22 PM

Nice looking shoe bench. I like your design. I like the look of the BB in a wide panel. Did you use that for kitchen counter tops? If not—there is someone here on LJ that did and it turned out very nice.

Is it difficult to hand plane the Baltic birch? I would think with all that glue (multiple plies) it would be tough.

Is there a back or structural component that connects the sides to each other or to the top so that it doesn’t rack?—I wasn’t sure if the last photo was the back—but the closer I look it appears that is the back.

Nice job!

View Waldo88's profile


188 posts in 719 days

#5 posted 11-02-2015 04:55 PM

No that wasn’t me that used it for counters. And yes it is hard as heck to hand plane; every other ply is end grain.

The bench and the cubbies are independent pieces. The bench on its own does flex a hair under the load of an adult, whether it is an issue or not depends on the surface (the only way you can tell is that the sides widen a bit). However the spacer blocks include one for the center that applies load to the cubbies (which have a back), and that completely prevents the flex.

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