Scrap wood is always up in my workspace, needing a home or a purpose. Do you get that too?
I make large furniture pieces using salvaged barn timbers, and there’s always scrap pieces lying around taking up space. When I’m doing a cleanup of the shop, I like to use the scrap on small projects. The time spent on that allows me to reflect and plan the next big project, and these small projects bring some income from the scrap, allowing for no waste.
I don’t exactly follow a pattern, cuz that’s just how I roll, so I make these little benches according to what size of scrap I have on hand. This little bench is easily modified to make any size. I make quite a few that are adult size, 3 feet long and 21 inches tall, and I’ve even made a couple that are used at the dinner table, 5-6 feet in length, 15 inches wide and 21 inches tall. Then I used the scrap from those to make the little ones!
I’ve even made a few tiny scrap stools that resemble old milking stools; one resides in and is the most-used piece of furniture in our home, as our 3yo uses it in the bathroom for the toilet, tub and sink, and the 9yo drags it into the kitchen to wash dishes and access the cabinets.
Cute, huh? Super simple too.
We are gonna start with one that’s a little larger. It would be great next to a door where the kiddo can sit down upon entry and remove their shoes/boots.
The first thing I do is set the saw to mitre, or cut an angle on, the ends of the parts. There’s a knob on the back of the saw that you loosen to make this adjustment.
Loosen the knob, then tilt the saw to the 10-degree mark. Then tighten the knob back down.
You can set the angle at more or less than 10 degrees, but I like how 10 degrees looks, and the joints are nice and sturdy so an adult can use it for a stepstool as well. Just make sure you set it and cut all your parts for the bench before cutting it back, so the angles are all the same! (Ask me how I know this)
I cut the first leg out of the shortest scrap piece by mitring the ends as close as possible, then I measured it and made a second leg to match.
I used my longest piece of scrap for the top. I use the 10-degree cut on this piece as well. The angle carried through the whole piece gives it a nice, streamlined A-frame look. After trimming the ends as close as possible, it turned out almost 24″ on the long edge.
Use a square ruler to figure out where to set your legs.
I like the legs to NOT stick out further than the edge of the top of the bench, so I set them in about an inch by using a square. Set the square over the top of the bench, then use the tape measure to move the leg in an inch.
With larger benches, I move the legs in up to 6″. With the smaller ones, I keep them out close to the ends, so that if our little ones sit out on the very end of the bench, it won’t tip over sideways.
Use a pen to mark a line on the bottom side of the top piece. Then move the square to the other side and do the same thing before marking the other leg’s position.
Now that you have the legs in position, it’s easy to figure out how long to make the bottom shelf. I like to leave about an inch under the shelf. So the long edge of this shelf needs to be about 17.5″ long. Cut the shelf and set it in place.
Set all the pieces in position, just to make sure everything looks right.
Now you need to mark the side of each board where you want your pocket holes to go.
If you don’t have the tools to make pocket holes, you can still make this bench. You have two options: you can sink the screws so that they are visible from the outside, or you can carefully use the drill to make pocket holes without the jig. With this bench, assembled with pocket hole screws, you have to turn it upside down to see how it was assembled. I’ll show you how to use a pocket hole jig shortly.
You don’t want to accidentally drill holes in the wrong side of the boards. (Ask me how I know that.) So you need to make a quick angle mark on the side that you want your holes to go in. I just make a haphazard V mark that I can easily see. If you’re very detail oriented, you can measure from the edge and make a V mark exactly where you want your holes to go. I’m more of an “eyeball it” kinda gal, so I just make one large V to mark the correct side and roll on.
Mark the inside of each leg at the top end. Then mark the bottom shelf on the underside at each end.
This is a Kreg jig (affiliate link) for making pocket holes. There are a couple depth adjustments you can make. The first is on the jig. There are measurements on the side of the jig. Loosen the gold adjustment screw and raise or lower the adjustment to the thickness of your wood.
We are working with wood that is nearly 2″ thick, so we are pushing the limits of this jig, but it works fine. This only goes to 1 1/2″, so I raise the adjustment so that it is around where the 1 3/4″ mark would be if there was one.
The second depth adjustment is on the pocket hole bit. There is a ring with a set screw that you can loosen, then slide the ring up or down to set the bit depth.
I have the ring set for maximum depth, and the bit still doesn’t come close to touching the base of the jig, but the idea is to get it close. I could lessen the depth adjustment on the jig to get closer, but that would change the angle of the screw and weaken the joint. This is soft wood I’m using, so it’s fine this way. The joint will be strong, and the screw will penetrate the wood just fine.
Place the first leg in the jig, with the V mark right up against the upright, and clamp it down in the jig by pulling the black handle toward the wood (this also adjusts to the wood’s thickness). Then drill your hole. There’s a spot on the jig where you can attach a suction hose and run a shop vac to pull the sawdust away. I don’t use one; I just make a big mess and sweep it up, which means I have to drill in a little ways, then back the drill out to release the sawdust before pushing back in to go deeper, until I get all the way to the stop ring.
For these small benches, I just make two holes, one on each side. For larger benches, I make two holes on each side for a stronger joint.
Here, all the holes are drilled and the little bench is ready to be assembled. The easiest way to do it is to lay the top piece, bottom side up, on your work surface.
I have an assortment of screws for working with different types and thicknesses of wood. For oak and walnut, I use a fine threaded screw. For softer wood like pine, I use coarse threads. For this thick pine barn wood, I use 2 1/2″ coarse thread screws.
I use 1 1/4″ and 1 1/2″ screws for thinner wood.
Attach the legs, lining them up with the placement mark you made earlier, but don’t cinch them down all the way until you put the shelf in and run the screws in. Then tighten them all down gradually. This will ensure a tight fit without stripping out any of the pocket holes.
Normally, I would use a router to soften the edges, then use an orbital sander to “knock the hair off,” which, to me, is to get the rough surface off and accentuate the saw marks and woodgrain. However, this bench is going to a customer who does her own finish work, so this time, this is the finished product.
Purchase wood from me for one of these small projects by commenting on this post. I can hook you up with a kit!
Continue to follow for more postings on using the Kreg jig and using scrap materials!