Kitchen Built-in Booth

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Blog entry by Gabe C. posted 04-19-2012 10:28 PM 12716 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So at first I was only going to post this as a completed project, but I felt that in order to keep from saturating that post with too many photos, I would also post this as a blog. Plus it might inspire me to add a bit of dialogue about the process.

This is the completed project.

This is the space that I started with.

So I have a pretty small house with a fairly small kitchen, in which we have my girlfriend’s table and four chairs. The problem we were running into is that when we have all of our kids with us, we had nowhere to comfortably eat meals together. She has two from a previous marriage, as do I. Dinner time would end up working out with the kids eating in the living room at the coffee table, while the two of us stayed in the kitchen. Let me tell you, it’s not all bad not having to witness these messy kids get food all over the place, chew with their mouths open, and whine about their stomachs hurting when in reality it was that they just didn’t want to eat the good food we made for them. If only I had a stash of McDonald’s wrappers that I could put it in every night. Things being what they are though, we felt that all of us were missing out on the togetherness and communing that a family gets from eating dinner together every night, so I decided to build us a booth that could fit all of us in the kitchen around the table.

I started last Thursday and finally finished today, a week later.
The first step was preparing the space. Moving the table and chairs and freestanding shelves that we had against the wall.
Here is a picture of the inspectors, checking to make sure everything is in order.

That’s Max giving me the “go ahead”.

The spots in the floor missing the newest layer of tile are where the foot of a column used to be for a kind of counter/table that came out from the wall. When my gal moved in a couple years ago, I tore it out so as to accommodate her kitchen table.

I decided on a finish height of 17 inches. That is the seat height of her chairs and it worked well with the table.
First step was to attach a cleat to the wall at the proper height.

Few things can show you how badly your floor is out of level, as installing something like this. I think it turned out to be 3/4 of an inch in 8 feet. Ugly, ugly slab. I have had to install doors over drops of that magnitude, and it doesn’t help anyone! But, I’m not a concrete finisher, so maybe it’s harder than I think to get a floor somewhat level.

I also had an intake for the central air that I had to contend with.

So the next step was to create the boxes that would make up the structure. I decided to have inside-the-bench storage across the back, with shelves underneath the side benches.

The structure for all of this, other than the 1xs on the ends of the side benches, is all recycled wood that I have been hoarding. It’s hard to throw stuff out, and it’s hard to say no to free wood on Craigslist.

So the next step was installing all the horizontal surfaces. The 1xs used for the seating are new, and the shelves underneath are more recycled lumber.

You can see the floor drop in the picture below…just look at the lower shelf and the trim on the floor. Ridiculous!

Then came the paneling on the wall. Recycled plywood and 1×4s.

And here is a picture of the plywood to show what it looked like before and after the TLC I had to give it.

Needless to say, after this project, my planer and my orbital sander both deserve a case of beer.

I finished the whole thing with shellac. It’s the first project that I haven’t used polyurethane on, and honestly I couldn’t stand the smell. Felt like it was time to expand my horizons though, when it comes to a finish.

So if you made it through all these pictures and story, I sincerely thank you.
A couple of final thoughts:

I know that by many woodworkers, Pine is considered as an unwanted stepbrother to most other types of wood. My choice for using it is mostly due to budget constraints. My using “Formerly-stockroom-shelving” 2xs and plywood is mostly due to budget constraints. Cheap is a lot easier to stomach, as far as I’m concerned.
That being said, I don’t have a problem using pine. Most of the projects I have posted on here are made out of pine. Every house and structure that I have framed in my career are made out of pine. It is all over the place, it is cheap…and it isn’t a bad material to use. The problem with pine, in my opinion, is it’s rebelliousness. It doesn’t always want to comply with where you want it to go. It doesn’t necessarily agree with you that it shouldn’t tear out as you get to the end of a cut. It likes to move and twist all over the place. But it is still a good material, and I am very familiar with it. It will continue to have a place in my workshop, no matter how rich this whole woodworking thing makes me. Sure, I will have my cherries and my maples and my oaks, but I will always appreciate the things that I have made out of pine. You just have to spend some time getting to know it.
Take a couple minutes to check out some of the other projects people have made out of pine.
(Okay, enough soapbox)

This was a needed and satisfying project that will get a lot of use around here, and my gal is very happy (which is the real goal anyway).

I also built in a little secret compartment (I want to incorporate a secret compartment into every project if I can, I think). Now in my post-crazy-youth point in my life, I’m just going to have to figure out what to hide in there. Probably end up being dog biscuits.

The next step will be a bench to go on the outside of the table that can be slid under it when we aren’t eating…

All comments, suggestions and criticisms are welcome. Thanks for checking it out!

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

5 comments so far

View russde's profile


109 posts in 4182 days

#1 posted 04-19-2012 10:50 PM

Very nice!
I like it. I like pine. I like dog biscuits…not for myself of course, but I like them just the same. Very handy use of both space and material.

View Gabe C.'s profile

Gabe C.

288 posts in 3684 days

#2 posted 04-19-2012 10:58 PM

Thank you! I also learned the valuable lesson of “If I am going to post this many pictures…I should do more than one blog posting, as I am building it”.

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

View Derek Lyons's profile

Derek Lyons

584 posts in 4911 days

#3 posted 04-20-2012 05:26 AM

Very nice! Though there’s no reason why you can’t put all this in a project posting.

Where is the central air intake taking a suction on now? Near as I can tell from the photo’s it appears to be blocked.

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

View Gabe C.'s profile

Gabe C.

288 posts in 3684 days

#4 posted 04-20-2012 06:15 AM

Ahah! One hurdle I failed to address!
Yes, I cut a hole through the bottom left side and installed a new vent. Now I just have to convince the little lady to not pile pots and pans in front of it. Good call!

And I know I must be getting old, because as I laid on the floor, drilling holes to cut this out…I pulled a muscle in my shoulder. I was laying on the floor!! Just laying on the floor. Guess I ought to get back to the gym…

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

View RandyM68's profile


693 posts in 3661 days

#5 posted 04-20-2012 11:44 PM

Pine is a lot easier to work with. It’s a lot cheaper when you screw it up. I get a kick out of guys who try to start learning woodworking by going through the whole process of turning a log into usable lumber. That takes alot of expensive equipment and time. You can buy dimensional pine that is ready to use. You can pick through the stack for select boards, and match color and grain. It’s great to learn what you’re doing on, and it works very easily. If you can’t build something nice with pine, you better not waste your money on oak and walnut. Nice job on the breakfast nook, by the way. I had planned to build one years ago, but moved before I got around to it. I did build alot of other built-ins with pine that turned out pretty good.

-- I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you. I'm sorry,thanks.

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