Corner Shoe Cubbys for Seating

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Forum topic by williamd posted 05-21-2018 01:43 PM 474 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 611 days

05-21-2018 01:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cubbys design beginner materials farmhouse


I am designing a Corner Shoe Cubby that enables storage of shoes and small bags as well as seating. The design should match our existing decor. The basic plan is to have a stained Douglas Fir Top and white painted bottom. This will match cabinets and new farmhouse bench that I made.

I am struggling to make a design that optimizes the look/feel/weight, tools, and purchasable materials. Here are some of my ideas/constraints:

1- Try and minimize thickness of cubby material to maximize cubbys. In my mind I am thinking about 1/2” shelves and 1/4” dividers. To help with look/feel, I aim to “round over” the facade and route dado slots.

2- Learn to use my new router and router table with 1/4” and 1/2” bits as well as new yet to be purchased 1/8” dia and 1/4” dia round over bits. This will help me prepare for more intricate projects I have planned but also add to the beauty of the piece.

3- Reduce time and effort of preparing wood by designing properly and buying s4s wood (or similar). Unfortunately I do not have a planer or jointer and when making the farmhouse bench I struggle mightly with sanding and manually laboring on the materials. I do not want to repeat that and also want to learn about buying the right tools/materials to accelerate my work.

Here is the basic plan and some questions:

1- Is 3/4” strong enough to support the weight? Will the 1/4” dividers do anything to help with that?

2- What material could I use for the shelves/dividers? As I see it, the big box stores sell ply ~= 1/4” and 1/2” but it is not exact. Additionally, hardboards are mostly 1”.

3- How might a professional go about this? Should I give up on the roundover idea? It may just be that rounded shelves and dividers are impossible to execute on.

Looking forward to your ideas.


2 replies so far

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1524 days

#1 posted 06-05-2018 04:00 AM


Hopefully my comments are not too late.

1) Is 3/4” strong enough to support the weight? Will the 1/4” dividers do anything to help with that?

Yes, ¾” thick material for the sides should be sufficient. The dividers should help strengthen the entire assembly assuming the cubbies fit well into the box. A ¼” thick sheet good can be used for the back, ideally set into rabbets cut into the sides and the bottom and rear top rail of the base, if a back rail is part of the design. If a ¼” thick back is used and the units are being attached to the wall, a ¾” attaching rail should probably be added at the upper rear of the units.

2) 2- What material could I use for the shelves/dividers?

Since the lower cubbies will be painted, MDF versus plywood may be a better choice. It machines like wood so the edges of the cubbies can be contoured with sanding or routing. MDF accepts paint well, can be glued with woodworker’s yellow PVA glue and the MDF I have purchased is manufactured to Imperial versus Metric thicknesses (i.e. ¾” MDF is ¾” thick). MDF can be shaped with a router.

The problems with MDF if that it is heavy, does not like prolonged excessive moisture, does not hold screws well, and generates a LOT of dust when cut, routed, or sanded. A dust mask is needed for these operations.

¼” plywood has a tendency to cup which makes accurate cuts and assembly a little more difficult.
Edge banding would have to be glued to the raw “show” edges of plywood. The edge banding would have to be made flush with the faces of the plywood. If the edge banding is wide enough, it can be rounded over.

3- How might a professional go about this? Should I give up on the roundover idea?

I am not a pro so I cannot answer this question as pro. As an amateur, some things I would consider are to cut the vertical and horizontal cubby parts to size; horizontal cubby parts would span the width of the carcase and the vertical cubby parts would span the height. Then the horizontal pieces would receive a slot cut just a little more than half the width of the horizontal parts. The thickness of the slot would be the thickness of the vertical cubby parts. The vertical cubby parts would likewise receive a slot whose width equals the thickness of the horizontal parts. The vertical and horizontal cubby parts would then assemble with glue by interlocking the horizontal and vertical parts using the slots.

It may be best to roundover the edges of the cubbies (if the horizontal and vertical faces are flush) after the cubbies are assembled (either dry assembled or glued). Otherwise, gaps at the joints of the vertical and horizontal pieces would result (c.f. rounded over before assembly). Careful setup would be required to prevent the router from tipping on the narrow edges of the cubbies.

On the other hand if the vertical divides are offset from the horizontal pieces by a little more than the radius of the roundover, the parts could be rounded over before assembly. If rounding over both edges of a part to form a bull nose, a radius of the roundover that is less than ½ the thickness of the material is needed if a hand held router is used. Otherwise the bullnose with be non-symmetrical.

The floor edges of the end panels that offer some detail (rounded or applied feet) so that only the front and back of the weight bearing members contact the floor would reduce problems with uneven floors.

Some thought should be given as to how the stained solid wood top will be attached to the base unit. This plan should ensure the solid wood top can expand and contract across its width as the seasons change.

Joining the solid wood top’s two sections with a mitre that is tight fitting will be tricky.

View theart's profile (online now)


154 posts in 1158 days

#2 posted 06-05-2018 03:22 PM

Roundovers shouldn’t be a problem if you use your router and a straight edge to cut stopped dadoes. The shelves will have to be a bit shallower than the sides, and the dividers shallower than the shelves, but it’s a good look. It’s easier with MDF than plywood, because while you can get undersized dado bits I don’t know about undersized roundovers.

As for that big miter, it’s not going to stay square with seasonal movement. When faced with a similar corner joint on a counter top, I ended up using a butt joint with a long spline and only one hard connection point.

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