Stowaway Bench

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Project by Elizabeth posted 11-20-2010 12:25 AM 4420 views 17 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 3264 days

#1 posted 11-20-2010 12:39 AM

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 3074 days

#2 posted 11-20-2010 12:49 AM

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, Fernie, BC

View SignWave's profile


440 posts in 3062 days

#3 posted 11-20-2010 01:10 AM

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

-- Barry,

View DragonLady's profile


298 posts in 3034 days

#4 posted 11-20-2010 02:38 AM

oh, that’s very nice!

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

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4112 days

#5 posted 11-20-2010 02:40 AM

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 2791 days

#6 posted 11-20-2010 03:37 AM

Really digging the figure on that top piece!

View Rick's profile


144 posts in 3536 days

#7 posted 11-20-2010 06:03 AM

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


4611 posts in 3063 days

#8 posted 11-20-2010 05:15 PM

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


567 posts in 3712 days

#9 posted 11-20-2010 05:54 PM

Nice work

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

View NormG's profile


6141 posts in 3031 days

#10 posted 11-21-2010 04:03 PM

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 - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 3235 days

#11 posted 11-21-2010 04:11 PM

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


2700 posts in 2715 days

#12 posted 02-15-2011 06:06 PM

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 all inventions

View Bricofleur's profile


1445 posts in 3220 days

#13 posted 03-12-2011 03:15 AM

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


96 posts in 2967 days

#14 posted 04-11-2011 08:33 PM


-- al.chazy ny

View SuburbanDon's profile


487 posts in 3021 days

#15 posted 02-06-2012 07:13 PM

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 ---

showing 1 through 15 of 23 comments

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