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Thread: Bay window bench

  1. #1
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    Bay window bench

    Hi All,
    A few months ago while the wife and I were having a convo about how to furnish the bay window in the living room, I said " I should build a bench with storage to fill the space".... Ever since that day she bugs me once or twice a week about it. For her Christmas gift I would like to build this. I've attached a picture of the space. Its approx 2' deep x 10' wide, I want it to have a straight front. I would like to build a cabinet, trunk, bench, whatever you want to call it, that has face frames on the front with drawers that pull out of the front for storage. I would like the floor trim to continue along the bottom so it looks "built in", but I don't want to actually make it "built in". I have never made cabinets besides really basic ones for the garage, or made anything with pull out drawers. I don't want a lift top, if at all possible as we will be putting a cushion for sitting.

    Besides the actual design of it I'm really having a hard time, figuring out what I will do with the floor ducting and electrical outlets that will be behind it. I would like to move the electrical and ducting so it will still be useable from the front / not blocked off. I really can't figure out how to do that, any suggestions?

    Most of my projects have been very basic as I built my tools. I mainly work with hand tools, but recently acquired a small jointer, planer & I have a okay tablesaw.

    I figured I'd build the skeleton out of 2x4's and then plywood everywhere else. Although I may do a solid wood top out of laminated 2x12's. I was thinking for the main straight section of the wall I could have the drawers there, and then for the two triangular portions of the bay window, I could make those lift top (trunk style) as I don't know how to make a triangular drawer.

    Can anyone recommend

    1) How to keep electrical & heat/ac ducting
    2) A design to incorporate pull out drawers for the front.
    3) The corners of the bay window are not sharp edges, but rounded corners, how do I recreate that roundover to fit the wall?

    Thanksbay window.jpg

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael J Evans View Post

    I figured I'd build the skeleton out of 2x4's and then plywood everywhere else. Although I may do a solid wood top out of laminated 2x12's. I was thinking for the main straight section of the wall I could have the drawers there, and then for the two triangular portions of the bay window, I could make those lift top (trunk style) as I don't know how to make a triangular drawer.

    Can anyone recommend

    1) How to keep electrical & heat/ac ducting
    2) A design to incorporate pull out drawers for the front.
    3) The corners of the bay window are not sharp edges, but rounded corners, how do I recreate that roundover to fit the wall?
    1. There are kits to route air under cabinets to the toe kick. I would move those outlets to either side of the bay window. Not sure if that would violate any code about position of outlets.
    2. I would go with drawers only in the center and either not use the odd space at the ends or put doors there to cabinets. If you go with end cabinets, I would build 4 cabinets ( 2 end + 2 center) and cover with a 1" hardwood top, not construction grade pine.
    3. I think I would hold the front of the cabinets back 1" from the round corners, and avoid trying to design something to match up or blend to the corner.
    Last edited by Brian Tymchak; 10-11-2020 at 8:19 PM.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  3. #3
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    On a similar vein: a 90 degree bend at the vent that goes forward and opens to a long narrow vent across the whole of the middle section. This keeps its image as a vent unobtrusive and even across the front. The vent area should be the same or a little larger than the existing. Add drawers above, only in the middle section. Keep the end angles sections open frame in hardwood so the electrical sockets are open and usable.
    Keep the main body just below the window frame and have removable seat cushions on plywood that can be inserted in the top frame, these extend several inches up obscuring the bottom window frame.
    Donít know how much use it will get as leaning back will not be possible unless you change the bench to a seat and obscure part of the window.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Tymchak View Post
    1. There are kits to route air under cabinets to the toe kick. I would move those outlets to either side of the bay window. Not sure if that would violate any code about position of outlets.
    2. I would go with drawers only in the center and either not use the odd space at the ends or put doors there to cabinets. If you go with end cabinets, I would build 4 cabinets ( 2 end + 2 center) and cover with a 1" hardwood top, not construction grade pine.
    3. I think I would hold the front of the cabinets back 1" from the round corners, and avoid trying to design something to match up or blend to the corner.
    Brian
    I will look into the air kits, thanks. I also think I will only make the drawers in the middle and then either do the ends as blank or cabinet doors.

    Also your suggestion on holding back the ends seems like a good one. My skills likely wouldn't be able to get the floor trim to match up, especially with the rounded corners.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Fretwell View Post
    On a similar vein: a 90 degree bend at the vent that goes forward and opens to a long narrow vent across the whole of the middle section. This keeps its image as a vent unobtrusive and even across the front. The vent area should be the same or a little larger than the existing. Add drawers above, only in the middle section. Keep the end angles sections open frame in hardwood so the electrical sockets are open and usable.
    Keep the main body just below the window frame and have removable seat cushions on plywood that can be inserted in the top frame, these extend several inches up obscuring the bottom window frame.
    Donít know how much use it will get as leaning back will not be possible unless you change the bench to a seat and obscure part of the window.
    William
    In regards to the end sections / open frame. Do you mean without drawers and just do a cabinet with doors?

    I will keep it below the window trim, mainly the bench will be storage space / decoration. I don't imagine anyone will be doing any serious relaxing there as like you mentioned there is nothing to lean against but the window. At the very worst, we don't like it and put a couple recliners there instead. It is part o the living room, but I think it was meant to be a dining are as well, we don't like that idea as our kitchen is more than adequate for a large dining room table / area.

  6. #6
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    Yes open frame, no door, no drawers just the frame. Keep the drawers for the middle section. If you run the front edge straight from angled wall to angled wall you avoid any corner sticking out in the room. The end sections represent a small angled area so why bother with doors or drawers, just keep the electrical outlets easily accessible.
    Yes without a backrest the use is minimal, I have seen just such a set up and the children sitting on the bench destroyed the blinds in no time.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  7. #7
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    Apr 2020
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    northern va
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    I avoid construction lumber when not sheetrocking the frame. the 2x4's aren't straight and you don't need the strength. if it were me, i'd make a base out of plywood the same height as the baseboard. use that space for the ductwork. then make a box [or three on top] with a separate top and face panels. if the side panels aren't storage space, then it is pretty simple to wire the outlets to the face of the finish cabinet. [the wiring will need to be accessible since there is a junction box] depending on where you are, this needs to be inspected. I'd mock the seat up with a piece of 1/2" OSB to make sure it's a good height. if you are planning on cushions, you'll need to drop the top a few inches so sits under the window.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Bill. I don't think I am going to rewire, I'll just leave the back of the side cabinets open to the plugs. Since I don't plan on this being built in, I could very easily slide it out of the way if necessary for inspection purposes.

  9. #9
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    Question
    I plan on painting this bench in it's entirety expect the top if I do a solid wood top. What kind of plywood would you use for painting purposes? I have used maple ply once, but it's like $80 a sheet around here, where's a shop ply is like 35 a sheet. Your thoughts, is there a middle ground or should I just suck it up and do maple ply?

  10. #10
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    If you are going to paint it then MDF board is nice and smooth but you need to seal it before painting. The bottom edge needs to be very well sealed or 1/2Ē of hardwood added as getting it wet will swell and destroy it.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Fretwell View Post
    If you are going to paint it then MDF board is nice and smooth but you need to seal it before painting. The bottom edge needs to be very well sealed or 1/2Ē of hardwood added as getting it wet will swell and destroy it.
    Thanks Will
    Is there anything special about working MDF? I have never used it and always thought of it as "cheap" wood product.
    Does it take rabbets and pocket holes well?

  12. #12
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    No mdf close to water, do not use it by a window. Too much time and other material expense to save $100 on mdf if that much
    Ron

  13. #13
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    Ron is right in that with MDF you change your working methods and jointing. Biscuit jointing works well. The main problem is getting real wood smooth enough to paint well. Painting swells the grain so it shows, lots of sanding, priming and sanding between coats. MDF wonít rabbet well, a router would be needed. Nothing to say you canít biscuit join moulding to MDF for panels.
    Draw your design, with a frame of real hard wood jointed with tenons then pegged you get strength without taking much of the space. Drawers donít lend themselves to MDF but panelled doors could, as would shelves inside. It is not a large project so material cost is reasonable, the padded leather top on the other hand........
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  14. #14
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    As you have not worked with MDF before please note that you need to take extra caution about the dust created when cutting MDF. That dust is extra dangerous as it is very fine and also contains resins that your lungs would prefer not to inhale. Routing MDF is an especially dangerous operation without good dust collection, air cleaner, and respirator.

    I would avoid using MDF in this situation and go with birch ply, maybe even baltic birch Should be less expensive than maple ply and will paint just as well.
    Brian

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more complicated...it takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  15. #15
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    I will avoid MDF, as I've never worked It and don't own a router, biscuit joiner, or a dust collector of any sort, I'm not setup for machining of flat goods really.

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