Entry Bench with Shoe Storage

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Project by DannyW posted 12-06-2019 05:19 PM 2327 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We have been needing better shoe storage for our front hall for years (shoes are just stacked in bookcases now) and I finally decided to do something about it. After getting inspiration from projects on here and elsewhere I decided on a basic plan for a bench with 2 shelves for storage (1 adjustable) and went to planning the design. Little did I know at the time how long it would take me to tweak the design to something that I would want to build but at the same time be achievable with my limited woodworking skills (I started on my new hobby about 1 year ago). For example I had never done mortise and tenon before and cutting the mortises was more than I could handle no matter what technique I tried, so I hit on the idea of cutting a continuous groove in the legs and making the mortises by filling in the grooves with wood strips (walnut in this case) and leaving spaces where I wanted to mortises to be.

The frame and shelves are made from red oak and the top from Peruvian walnut. I finished the frame using Watco Danish oil followed by 3 coats of Arm-R-Seal, and finished the walnut top using 6 coats of Arm-R-Seal.

I think for a first furniture project it turned out rather well, and my wife loves it. I have thought about making a matching table for the other side of the entry hall (taller and shallower with more shelves) as a complementary piece and additional storage (we have WAY too many shoes!).

Thanks so much to everybody on this forum that has helped by giving me tips and inspiration on this and other projects. I only hope that as I gain knowledge and skills that I can share the same with others like so many here have done for me.

-- DannyW

8 comments so far

View Bill_Steele's profile


786 posts in 3229 days

#1 posted 12-06-2019 06:42 PM

That’s a nice looking shoe bench Danny. Nice contrast between the top and frame/shelves. I assume you sit on it when you put on/take off shoes?

I’m curious about the plugs/dots/holes along both shelves. Are these intended as a visual interest detail OR an indicator to help pair/align shoes OR are they used to attach the shelf edging?

Thanks for sharing.

View DannyW's profile


360 posts in 1295 days

#2 posted 12-06-2019 08:04 PM

Thanks Bill! Yes it is made to sit on; it is a little high (19 1/2”) as necessitated by the storage beneath, but it is not too bad.

I should have mentioned the plugs in the front. In trying to decide how to fasten the lower shelf while accommodating for expansion/contraction I decided to use dowels (glued front, sliding rear) with a gap between the lower shelf and the rear stretcher. I had never done this before and ended up using far more dowels that needed, so I decided to make it an interest detail by using walnut dowel plugs. The middle shelf is glued to the apron so the dowels are mostly decorative to match the lower shelf. If I had it to do over again I would use far fewer dowels (maybe 1/2 or 1/3 as many). Actually dowels would not be needed on the front at all because the shelves and aprons are glued. Unfortunately if I do a matching table I will need to do the same plugs on the front to match the bench.

I learned a lot while doing this project (things to do, things not to do, new skills) that I can use for the next time. I haven’t been at this woodworking hobby very long but it is fun for me and a learning experience trying to figure out new things. I am hoping to find sources for free or cheap lumber after I retire in a few more years (no more paychecks and all that). I am finding out how expensive this hobby is; tools are a one time deal but lumber is an ongoing expense. Perhaps I can turn it into a money making hobby (I already got my first commission making dining table leaves as described in the forums).

-- DannyW

View eddit's profile


16 posts in 1362 days

#3 posted 12-06-2019 09:11 PM

Mortise and tenon can be really intimidating, and difficult to get right. If it’s within your budget, I highly recommend a Festool DF500 domino machine. It’s a floating tenon, which is very dependable, but might bother the purist inside of you, haha.

Either way, clever solution with your inlay-mortise. This is a great piece man, you got skills, keep it up.

View DannyW's profile


360 posts in 1295 days

#4 posted 12-06-2019 10:51 PM

Thanks eddit, I didn’t know how well it would work but it did ok. I have since bought a hollow chisel mortiser but but didn’t have it then and still have not used it; besides, I like the contrast created by the walnut strips. I don’t think there is any way that I could justify the cost of the Festool for as little as I would use it. I also have a JessEm doweling jig that I did not have back then. I used the JessEm on my recent table leaves for drilling setting the locator pins and it worked great (the leaves fit together perfectly), so I am planning on using it a lot in the future, even for glue-ups.

I don’t know about having skills yet, but I am trying to learn whatever and whenever I can. My biggest challenge now is learning to effectively use all of the tools that I have acquired.

-- DannyW

View swirt's profile


7795 posts in 4469 days

#5 posted 12-07-2019 01:50 AM

Nice design and great color combination. Well done.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Peteybadboy's profile


4957 posts in 3447 days

#6 posted 12-07-2019 11:56 AM

DannyW, I think you did a great job. Build look good to me.

-- Petey

View jamsomito's profile


742 posts in 1923 days

#7 posted 12-07-2019 02:58 PM

Agreed, this looks really great. I’d be proud to have that in my entryway.

View DannyW's profile


360 posts in 1295 days

#8 posted 12-09-2019 02:26 PM

Thanks everybody! I have been using it now for a few days and it works well and looks good in the entry. I think I will go ahead and make a matching table before too long.

-- DannyW

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