I built a storage bench!

Hello friends!

I’ve been super into projects lately. They have taken their toll and I’m in bed icing myself, banned from the future projects that call to me, but I’m taking this time to write a blog and share with you my recently completed bench project.

In December I won an online auction for a local auction house. The auction contained an unopened box. Based on what I read on the box in the photo, I was able to google it and discover it was box one of two, of a very fancy day bed set up. I didn’t know what would be in box one verses two, but I thought it would be fun to find out! The lot also contained a number of new in box vertical blinds I could sell and a few other things for $20.

Opening the box was darn exciting and when I did so I discovered I had won this fabulous tufted piece along with several boards and random doodads. I pondered what I should do with it for a while, but ultimately decided I would make a storage bench. Since I had my heart procedure three days later, it took me a while to get started on it.

I chose to use scrap wood to build this. I wanted to make it as low cost as possible. I’m still recovering financially from last year and my nearly 7 months off of work! Plus, I find frugality a rewarding challenge in most cases.

I decided to visit my local Habitat for Humanity Restore and see what was around that I could work with and came upon these paneled doors. They were heavily discounted and I paid $4 for them both. You can see my mock up in the last photo along with my puppers 🙂

Then the time came to cut them down to fit the topper. As you can see in the photo they were a bit too long as is.

I asked for my dad to assist me with this part, because he had a better saw than I do for this cut. We ended up cutting both doors down to size. But once I started moving them around, I realized they were going to add a lot of weight. In addition, they were too tall. The bench, by the time the tufted top and casters were added, would be kind of crazy tall to sit on. That lead to another issue: If I cut the door down for height, I’d be removing all the framing, and leaving the paneling to support the weight of people and the topper. That wouldn’t work either.

I pondered for a bit, and then decided we’d cut a door open, like butterflying a chicken breast. The difficulty with that, was the it was nearly impossible to cut open the door with any sort of evenness. But, I got it cut open, and had two pieces of paneling. This meant I needed to build a box to attach it to. I tried to use thinner or lighter cuts of wood where I could to keep the weight down. 2×4’s are heavy! Also, I wanted to save the 2×4’s for finishing my shed remodel this summer. (One hopes, year two of construction to commence shortly.)

I want to take a moment to say that the only reason a project like this is possible is because of the kindness of the community I have built around me. Those power tools? All from a member of my Buy Nothing group. When his father passed, he slowly cleared out his garage and shared the equipment with us. That is how I received those saws. The white table I am working on? Was a gift from a friend and neighbor when it no longer served her. The red table I also use? Was a gift from my uncle. All the yard waste bins? When my best friend’s great grama sold her home and moved in with her daughter in law, she gave me those. You see the white panel gate/fencing in the driveway? Buy Nothing.

The scrap trim pieces? Came from a scrap pile of a Buy Nothing member over a year ago. The shelf pieces? From a shelf I received on Buy Nothing 3 years ago that eventually sustained water damage and I broke it down to salvage what I could. The reclaimed 2×4’s came from my brother’s old employer. They demo’d a wall at work, and he loaded up the trailer will all the nice lumber and called me to tell me he was on his way.

He certainly knows me!

All this to say, I’m so fortunate to have what I have, and I’m grateful every day for the community I have built over the years. Everyone seems to know that they can call me on me to rehome and reuse items. My petsitting clients even drop boxes of stuff for me to gift to my local Buy Nothing community, because they’d rather support my community than a local thrift store giant and they trust me to gift these items.

The casters came from my uncle’s garage and collection of random stuff. I took apart all the other pieces of the auction box winnings for their washers, screws, and hardware. Used all of that and still ran out of washers, so I used whatever would work that I could find in my random hardware bucket.

Flipped it over, and added the door panels to each side. Screwed it directly into the 2x4s, because I was able to use other parts from the auction box that would cover the screws. The grey 4 inch fabric panels worked great to hide the seam, and snug the topper in.

A recent trip to Ikea due to a bed disaster (more info coming) yielded these deep blue/green cabinet fronts for $5 each. I also screwed those directly into the box, because I had another piece of grey panel to cover it. That was more complicated than anticipated.

The remaining grey panel was 6 inches tall and 75 inches long. In order to use it, I had to cut open the upholstery on the top and sides, peel it back, and cut the inside particle board down to size, and reupholster the piece. Frankly, I’m astonished I managed it.

I had to cut and reupholster several pieces in different ways. That took two days.

The paneling needs to be painted come summer, and the inside is still unfinished, but it’s in my house and in use at this time!

This took nearly two weeks of actual build time for me, because of my nerve damage. I did a little at a time, as I physically could. The minute my hand started to shake, felt numb, or I got frustrated, I made the choice to walk away. If you are a builder I probably made your head explode, because I did nothing, “right,” but what is most important to me is I got it done! I salvaged this box and piece from an auction because of damage. Everything in it was salvaged or reclaimed, with exception of the as-is Ikea cabinet doors and a handful of new screws.

Auction: $20 (I do believe once I get the vertical blinds sold that came in the auction the actual cost will be zero, or even negative.)
Ikea AS-IS: $10
Habitat for Humanity Restore: $4
Grand total: $34.

This is an exercise in trying new things, challenging myself physically, frugally and creatively and finding the fun in life. I love a project, so you’ll find me knee deep in them in the future! What have you been working on? How have you been challenging yourself? I can’t wait to hear, my friends.

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