Text Resize

  • -A
  • +A
  • Your rating: None (1 vote)

    Upgrade an Entryway with Storage Cabinets

    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    This article originally appeared in Taunton's Garage Solutions (2005.)

    The mud room by default—that corner of the garage that leads into the house—is likely filled with an ever-growing collection of stuff you don’t want to bring into your home. Here’s a great way to organize the space so that it’s useful and looks good too. Built from tough, good-looking materials, this multipurpose unit features a bench, hangers, and cubbies—perfect for keeping all of your outdoor gear close at hand and providing a place to sit and take off muddy boots. It’s a weekend project that’s easy and fun…and it will make a big difference to your home and garage.

    Photos by John Rickard, Jerry Bates and Robert J. Donezal; Illustrations by The Taunton Press, Inc.

    How to Make

    Tools & Gear

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeTools for the job

    Tools may be rented: This is a tool-intensive project, but there’s no need to buy everything. Consider renting the tools you need or borrowing them from a friend.

    Supplies to buy

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeA modern sawhorse

    Carpentry tools: You’ll need a tape measure, carpenter’s pencil, framing square, several clamps,block sander, 12-oz. finish hammer, rubber mallet, 4-ft. carpenter’s level, socket set, putty knife, construction glue, and paintable wood paste.

    Build the boot bench

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeLumber cuts

    Power tools: In addition to a corded or cordless drill, you’ll need a router, power belt and palm sander, brad nailer, circular and compound miter saws, 3-in. hole saw, and various bits, blades, and sandpaper.

    Building a cubby cabinet

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeCut lumber

    Sawhorses: Get your materials off the ground—and give your back and knees a break—with a pair of stable sawhorses or a portable workbench with adjustable clamps. If you can, get away from rickety sawhorses with the latest in portable elevated workbenches.Not only do they fold flat in seconds for compact storage, but they offer lockable wheels for mobility, anti-slip feet, and vises and clamps to hold your materials in place while you work; their tough steel construction can withstand lots of use and abuse. Adjustable to about 30 in.off the ground, they provide a stable, elevated work platform that eases stress on your back, legs, and knees.

    Accessorize and finish

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeRouter grooves

    Safety gear: Safety gear- Whenever you saw or sand, make sure to wear safety glasses and a dust mask to protect your eyes and lungs. Avoid loose clothing, too.

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargePut together the panels

    Paintbrushes: Have a set of 1-1⁄2-in.- to 3-in.-wide brushes to apply the paint, stain, or varnish coats. Keeps some clean, lint-free rags handy, too, to wipe up drips and splatters.

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeAdd the piano hinge

    Plywood: Pine-based interior-grade plywood is a workable material for a project like this, and it delivers an attractive grain if you decide to stain the finished pieces.You’ll need enough 1-1⁄8-in.- and 5⁄8-in.-thick material to satisfy the lumber list (see LUMBER LIST in PDF), though you may be able buy thepieces precut or in smaller dimensions for quicker preparation and easier transport.

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeRouter panels

    Fasteners and hooks: Buy a half-dozen 2-in. lag screws to fasten thebackboard to the wall, a dozen #6 round-head screws for the brackets and hinges, and a box of 1-1⁄2-in. flathead wood screws to fasten the panels. As for hooks, the hardware style is up to you, but a double-hook design does twice the work in the same space.

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeBox assembly

    Stain or paint: Select a desirable stain, varnish, or latex paint color, and make sure to keep mineral spirits on hand for easy clean-up. If you stain the wood, protect it with at least two layers of a polyurethane sealer.

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeAdd the dividers

    Hinges: Buy a set of two weight-rated hinges and a 3-ft. piano hinge. Together, they keep the back of the boot bench lid from slamming shut. Most have spring-tension controls to adjust the angle of the opening and the amount of weight needed to close the lid.

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeFinishing touches

    Cut the pieces: Once you’ve found an adequate area for the bench and cubby assemblies (36 in. wide by 48 in. tall), set up a workstand or sawhorses and use the circular and miter saws to cut your frame components. (See LUMBER LIST on pg 45 of the attached PDF.)

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeSide brackets

    Make router grooves: Rout two 1-1⁄8-in.-wide by 3-1⁄8-in.-deep grooves at 2 in. and 5-1⁄2 in. from the bottom of the inside faces of each side panel of the boot bench. This will securely hold and support the edges of the boot shelf and the box bottom.

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeDrill along umbrella rack panels

    Fit and fasten: Clamp one side of the boot bench to your workstand, drill three pilot holes in each side panel equidistant along the lengths of the grooves, and apply a bead of glue in one groove. Insert the panel for that groove (boot shelf or box bottom), and tap it in place with a rubber mallet; repeat with the other groove and panel. Glue the remaining side panel to the other ends of the shelf and bottom panels. Countersink 11⁄2-in.-long flathead screws into the shelves to reinforce the glued joints and fasten the assembly. Square the assembly and, with a brad nailer, fasten the box-frame panels flush to the inside edges and tops of the side panels and to the bottom edge of the top shelf. Flip the assembly over and screw-fasten the other end of the frame components.

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeFasten hooks

    Attach the lid: Screw-fasten the piano hinge to the edge of the lid through its precut holes, center the lid on the box, and screw fasten the hinge to the inside face of the back box-frame panel. Attach weight-rated hinge to each side of the piano hinge with the supplied countersunk screws, fill the screwhead holes with putty, let the putty dry overnight, then sand the filler smooth.

    Tools may be rentedclick to enlargeFasten the backboard

    Router the panels: Measure 12-5⁄32 in., 24 in., and 35-27⁄32 in. down the length from one end of the cubby top and bottom panels, marking three points on each panel. Rout 5/8-in.-wide by 5⁄16-in.-deep grooves at the center of each mark for the cubby’s dividers. Drill three pilot holes through the top panel, equidistant along each grooves’ length.

    Assemble the box: Clamp one side panel to your workbench. Apply a bead of glue along the 9-in. edge of the top panel—grooves facing away from you—and position the panel against the corresponding side panel so that its edge rests flat on the workbench surface. Countersink 1-1⁄2-in.-long flathead wood screws in each of the predrilled pilot holes to join the two panels. Repeat with the bottom panel. When the top, bottom, and one side panel have been fastened, remove the assembly from the workbench, clamp the other side panel to the workbench, and fasten it in place to form the cubby box assembly.

    Add the dividers: Use a rubber mallet to gently tap the three dividers into the box at the grooves until their edges are flush with the front edges of the box. With a brad nailer, nail three fasteners equidistant down each divider’s length to fasten the dividers, securing the top panel, then the bottom. Square the assembly and attach the backboard.

    Finish the job: Place a drop cloth under the boot bench and mask off the edges of the backboard. Fill and sand all fastener holes, sand the wood’s surface smooth, and apply stain or primer to all of the cubby’s and bench’s exposed surfaces—remember to include the inside of the boot bench box. Add two coats of paint or at least two coats of stain over primer or sealer. For stained wood, apply two or more coats of polyurethane sealer after you apply the stain, and allow it to dry thoroughly before using the bench, cubbies, or hooks.

    Add the side brackets: Measure and mark 3 in. from each end on the inside face of the boot-bench box’s sides. At the center of each pencil mark, hold the bracket 1-1⁄8 in. below the top of the side (not the lid) and drill two pilot holes 1 in. apart through the side into each bracket. Use 1-1⁄2-in. flathead wood screws to secure the brackets to the sides of the boot bench.

    Fasten the umbrella rack: Using your 3-in. hole-saw bit, cut three holes equidistant along the center of both umbrella rack panels, and sand them smooth. Center the umbrella rack panels over the brackets and flush to the top of the box, then use your brad nailer to secure the panels to the brackets. Fill the brad holes with putty, let the putty dry overnight, and sand it smooth.

    Add the hooks: With a pencil, mark equally spaced locations for your coat hooks along the backboard, 6 in. below the bottom ofthe cubby cabinet. Use your level to mark a straight line, then drill pilot holes for the hooks. Attach the hooks using the fasteners provided.

    Fasten the backboard: Position the backboard flush onto the top and sides of the back of the cubby cabinet. Use the brad nailer to fasten it every 6 in. along the perimeter. Lift the assembly into place on the wall so that the bottom of the cubby cabinet will be centered 36 in. over the top of the boot bench when it is in place. Use your tape measure and pencil to mark the wall stud locations; check that the cubby cabinet is level, and drill two pilot holes through the backboard, 8 in. from the top and bottom edges, for lag screws to pass into each stud. Countersink the pilot holes up to 1⁄16 in. deep. Make a final check for level, and screw the backboard to the wall with a socket wrench. Fill all fastener holes with wood paste or putty, let dry overnight, then sand smooth.