Arts and Crafts Style Built-in Bench
Templates, routers, and a foolproof finish make this traditional project approachable and elegant.
Synopsis: A built-in bench can be a perfect addition to any home. For cabinetmaker Brent Benner, an Arts and Crafts style built-in with under-seat storage was an elegant solution for clients who wanted to create a cozy nook near a fireplace. Using MDF templates, Benner was able to create consistently sized side pieces for the bench, and he used a router to create the details. Before he finished the bench, Benner assembled it dry to make sure that all the parts fit together. Finally, Benner finished the bench with a combination of stains for a realistic Arts and Crafts finish.
There’s nothing like built-in furniture to turn an awkward space into a cozy nook. To many people, the art of the built-in reached its height during the Art and Crafts movement. My clients hold that opinion so dear to their hearts that they’ve turned their house into a showcase of period design. Recently, they asked me to build an Arts and Crafts style bench to serve as an inglenook for their living-room fireplace.
The bench began with a design borrowed from a similar piece in my clients’ furniture collection. Made of quartersawn white oak, my take on the design has simple L-shaped sides with a decorative slot, a frame-and-panel backrest, and storage under a hinged seat. Like all good inglenooks, it’s shoehorned into a space between the fireplace and a corner.
Get started with accurate measurements
To determine the dimensions of the bench, I used a set of homemade measuring sticks to size the space where the bench would be installed. Nothing more than two long pieces of 1x scrap wood held side by side, the sticks were telescoped out to the left and right to span the exact width of the space allotted for the bench.…