Stowaway Bench

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Project by Elizabeth posted 1376 days ago 3132 views 15 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Over the past seven weeks I have been taking an evening woodworking class at the University of Oregon’s Craft Center. The class is an introduction to woodworking class focusing on making a bench or small table. I chose a Stowaway Bench plan which I found in a copy of American Woodworker – a link to the online version of the article is at the end of this post.

The original plan called for a 44” wide finshed bench but I chose to make it 40” instead to better fit in a recess in our front hallway. It’s mostly made of Eastern Hard Maple with a hinged lid of spalted maple. This is the first piece of furniture that I’ve ever made.

This bench is technically – and literally – not yet finished because I haven’t put a finish on it. I’m planning on using Danish oil but the class ended before I got that far, so I’ll do that at home at some point. I also omitted the dowel plugs step which is second to last for the same reason, but there are so many glue joints that it’s pretty sturdy without them, and the rails sit directly on notches in the legs.

I also made a couple of modifications to the plan (much to the dismay of my teacher) – the plan calls for 5 degree angles at some spots but not others, so I added some more 5 degree angles to help things fit together better, and I hand chiseled the recesses for the hinges instead of making a dado completely across the board. I think both of these original instructions in the plan were to make it simpler for the beginner, but I felt it was too much of a sacrifice in looks to leave that way.

Plans for the Stowaway Bench can be found here:

23 comments so far

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 1868 days

#1 posted 1376 days ago

Nice looking bench. Now you need a shoe rack and a coat rack to go with your entry bench. Thanks for the link to the plans. I subscribe to American Woodworker, but who knows where the issue is with the bench in it. LOL

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Chris Pond's profile

Chris Pond

63 posts in 1678 days

#2 posted 1376 days ago

I to did a bench too but not as a Stowaway type. I personally like a bench as a starter project as the “lay out” is easy. A top with a pair of leg :) I like what you did with your bench, & yes a little hinge hand work a gives a better look.

-- Chris, Summerland BC

View SignWave's profile


135 posts in 1666 days

#3 posted 1376 days ago

Good work on that, it looks great. The top piece appears to have a lot of character.

View DragonLady's profile


298 posts in 1638 days

#4 posted 1376 days ago

oh, that’s very nice!

-- A woman's work is never done-but power tools help!

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 2716 days

#5 posted 1376 days ago

Sweet! and I love your adventurous spirit in adapting a plan to your own desired spec’s. Good job! I expect great things from you now, in ‘fudging’ on plans and making something your own. Very nice bench.


View Dave D's profile

Dave D

2 posts in 1395 days

#6 posted 1376 days ago

Really digging the figure on that top piece!

View Rick's profile


143 posts in 2140 days

#7 posted 1376 days ago

Great job – Spalted maple might must be my favorite wood for anything. I use it on pens, too. Please update us when the finish goes on!!

-- There are many tempting parking places on the road to success

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4358 posts in 1667 days

#8 posted 1375 days ago

The bench and the spalting looks very nice. As for the modifications, if it works for you then thats the way to do it.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View SPHinTampa's profile


548 posts in 2316 days

#9 posted 1375 days ago

Nice work

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

View NormG's profile


4112 posts in 1635 days

#10 posted 1374 days ago

Nice looking bench, just because something is easier does not mean there is not a better and simpler way to do that something. I am sure your instructor was just being an instructor, seeking to save you time. You made a modification that worked for you and you learned an additional skill. That bench is going to be around for a long time.

-- Norman

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1057 posts in 1840 days

#11 posted 1374 days ago

Terrific job on the bench! That spalted top looks great. I like the modifications that make it yours. Bummer that your teacher did not encourage your creativity!

View steliart's profile


1807 posts in 1319 days

#12 posted 1288 days ago

Also a very cool idea and construction

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions - --

View Bricofleur's profile


1125 posts in 1824 days

#13 posted 1264 days ago

Another great inspiration since I have to build two for my kitchen. Thanks for sharing.



-- Learn from yesterday, work today and enjoy success tomorrow. --

View moondog69's profile


95 posts in 1571 days

#14 posted 1233 days ago


-- al.chazy ny

View SuburbanDon's profile


482 posts in 1625 days

#15 posted 932 days ago

Interesting design. I like those long “arches” at each end. I would never have though to hinge the lid.

-- --- Measure twice, mis-cut, start over, repeat ---

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