Step 1

Finding Materials

To duplicate the Blog Cabin 2011 reclaimed entry hall bench, where does one locate old wall studs (true-cut 2” x 4”), an antique headboard and old country farmhouse stair-rail balusters?

To locate true-cut wall studs from a home built during or prior to the 1950s, ask around. A local contractor, building supply vendor or county building official may be able to direct you to a home renovation site nearby. The idea is to collect the old “burn pile” wood before it is torched or thrown away. Putting an ad in the local paper may prove fruitful as well.

The search for a vintage headboard and old country stair-rail balusters may include, but is not limited to, architectural salvage suppliers, old country antiques shops and sites like craigslist. Used headboards range in price from $75 to more than $250. Stair-rail balusters are often sold in sets, with a price range of $2 to $10 per baluster. See the shopping list above to help gather the remaining building supplies.

Step 2

Building the Bench Seat

Determine bench width using the headboard posts as the guide. Measure the headboard from the inside of one post to the inside of the other post. Transfer this post-to-post dimension and cut a 2” x 4” to this width using the miter saw.

Using a table saw, set the rip guide to rip the 2” x 4” exactly in half. These two pieces of 2” x 2” create the front and back of the bench seat perimeter band. Rip another short length of 2” x 4” exactly in half (about 12” - 14” in length). These two pieces will be cut to the exact length to create the two side bench seat perimeter bands.

Carefully measure the exact width of the remaining true-cut 2” x 4” (it should be very close to 4”). Double this dimension (approximately 8”), then cut the two 2” x 2” pieces to this measurement. Lay out all four pieces onto a level workbench. These four pieces will frame the bench seat perimeter band. Clamp the perimeter band together to form a rectangular frame for the seat.

Now prepare all four perimeter band pieces to be screwed together using a pocket hole jig. Note: Pre-drill the holes on the bottom sides of the bench seat so as not to be seen from the top.

With the side perimeter band holes drilled, lay out the pieces and clamp them in place. Screw the pieces together to make the perimeter band.

Measure the inside width dimension of the seat. Cut two lengths of true-cut 2” x 4” to this dimension and insert them into the frame to dry-fit the bench seat. Clamp the inside bench pieces together. The bench should fit snugly with the seams and joints “tight.” Notice any gaps once the seat is clamped together? If so, minor trim cuts may be made to tighten up the gaps and joints.

Once the seat is confirmed to be “tight,” prepare to screw the seat pieces into the perimeter band by removing the clamps and the two 2” x 4” seat pieces. Place the seat wood into the jig and pre-drill 6 to 8 pilot holes in each piece to secure it to the perimeter band. Remember to set up the pocket hole jig and wood to pre-drill the pilot holes on the underneath side of the seat.

Lay out the perimeter band and seat pieces onto the level workbench and clamp the seat pieces to the perimeter band again. Screw the seat pieces and perimeter band together. The bench seat is now ready to attach to the headboard.

Pro Tip

Safety Tip: When using cutting or drilling tools always wear safety glasses. When ripping wood on a table saw, use a “push stick” to keep hands away from the cutting blade.

Builder's Tip: Use a speed square in the inside corners to confirm a perfect 90 degrees for the rectangular bench seat perimeter band.

Step 3

Attach Bench Seat to Headboard

Test-fit and clamp the bench seat to the headboard, in between the two headboard posts. The dry-fitted bench seat should fit perfectly between the posts since the width of the seat was built to this dimension. It will be obvious, but remember to place the drill holes underneath.

Pre-drill 6 to 8 pilot holes in the headboard to connect the bench. It will be obvious, but remember to pre-drill from the back side of the headboard. Pre-drill deep enough to accommodate 3” wood screws. Screw the bench seat to the headboard. The attached bench seat is now ready for some legs.

Pro Tip

Builder's Tip: Bench height may be dictated by the headboard posts, which will become the back legs of the entry hall bench. If you have a choice in seat height, conduct a “sit height test” for bench users. Employ a nearby chair, couch or other furnishing to test the comfort of seat height.

Step 4

Attach Bench Front Legs

The stair-rail balusters must be cut to length to make the bench's front legs. Lay the bench on its back on the worktable. Place a straight 2” x 4” along the bottom of the headboard post (back legs) and measure the leg length. Add 1” to the length (baluster legs will be countersunk into the seat bottom). Precut four to six baluster legs.

Determine the location of the legs. The legs can be spaced evenly apart, clustered at the sides and middle or be placed in any location that is pleasing to the eye. Just remember that bench stability is the key when placing the legs.

Pre-drill the baluster legs' countersink holes with a paddle bit. Determine the size of bit by measuring the precut bottom dimension of the baluster leg. A very snug fit is desired. Since all legs must be countersunk the same depth for an equal leg length, place a piece of blue painter's tape on the bit at the 1” depth mark.

Drill all the holes and clean them. Ideally, a drill press would be used in a wood shop to make precise countersunk holes of the same depth and vertical to the seat. In the field, or on a job site, hand tools are used. A steady hand and keen eye are needed or the precision-drilled holes may be compromised.

Insert a generous quantity of wood glue into each of the clean holes. Insert the baluster legs and tap them into place with a hammer and wood block.

Place a straight 2” x 4” across the feet of the legs, making certain that all points of contact are precise. Make corrections by re-drilling if necessary.

When legs are in place, use a nail gun to secure the baluster legs.

Step 5

Entry Hall Bench Finishing Options

Entry Hall Bench Finishing Options

Finishing options include, but are not limited to, painting according to the entry hall color scheme, sanding and staining to a color and tone of choice or retaining the rough, reclaimed look of the art piece.

Photo by: Jackson Riley Parker, Jack Parker

Jackson Riley Parker, Jack Parker

Finish

Finishing options include, but are not limited to, painting according to the entry hall color scheme, sanding and staining to a color and tone of choice or retaining the rough, reclaimed look of the art piece. If the entry hall floor is wood-clad, attach felt foot pads to the bench to protect the floor from scratches.