How To: Make a Stowaway Bench for your Entryway


Project Level: Intermediate

This stowaway bench is a versatile piece of furniture that you can use as a resting spot and as storage. Open the lid and you can cut the clutter near your door by keeping shoes, boots, umbrellas, and more organized. Shut the lid, and you’ve got a place to take a break or sit down and tie your shoes.

This project takes about a day to build. You will learn how to use a table saw sled for making extra-wide crosscuts and how to make angle and radius cuts, as well as, how to apply stains and finishes to protect wood and keep it looking beautiful.

Stowaway Bench

What Do You Need?

  • Usual arsenal of tools
  • Chisel
  • Hand plane or sanding block
  • Bar clamps
  • Table saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Router with a beading bit
  • 120-, 150- and 220-grit sandpaper
  • Safety glasses
  • Respirator

To see a full list of tools and supplies, as well as detailed instructions and plans, download the project guide.

Before You Begin

Make sure you follow the directions carefully while practicing and developing your safe working habits. Wear your safety goggles and the appropriate respirator when it is necessary.

Mask1   Mask2

For Your Stowaway Bench Project

We recommend using pine wood, oak or Douglas fir. You can see the stowaway bench project guide for cutting plans and assembly steps.

Recommended Finish: Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain (Harvest Grain and Island Water) or choose your favorite stain color.

minwax-water-based-wood-stain   StowawayColors

Before staining your stowaway bench, sand all the pieces with the 120-grit paper, then move up to 220-grit to complete the pre-finish smoothing. Then wipe the piece carefully with a clean, lint-free cloth lightly dampened with mineral spirits.

Make sure to apply Minwax® Water-Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner following the directions on the can. After 1 to 5 minutes, wipe off all excess conditioner using a clean, lint-free cloth. Wait 15 to 30 minutes then use fine-grade paper to sand off any “whiskers” from the conditioner. Proceed to staining within 2 hours.

Apply the Minwax® Water-Based Wood Stain you’ve chosen using either a nylon/polyester brush or soft cloth. Allow stain to penetrate no longer than 3 minutes. If you want to apply a second coat, allow for it to dry for 2 hours. Make sure the pieces dry overnight before assembling the bench and applying the protective clear finish. For full instructions on staining and finishing, download the project guide.

Useful Tips

  • Always test the stains and finishes you have selected on a scrap of wood. On the back of the scrap, mark the stain/finish combination and the type of wood. This is important so you can make sure you like how the color will turn out before staining your bench.
  • All stains and finishes should dry thoroughly between each coat. Keep in mind these drying times may vary depending on humidity, temperature and other climatic conditions.
  • If you have some leftover stain or finish, wipe the can rim so that stain or finish in the rim won’t dry out and prevent the lid from forming a tight seal.
  • Brushes used for water-based products, such as Minwax® Water-Based Wood Stains or Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish, should be cleaned with soap and water; oil-based finishes must be cleaned with mineral spirits.

Ready for another project?

Interested in other bench or storage projects? See the Garden Bench project plan, Storage Bin project plan, and Swiveling Storage plan.

Check out Bruce’s post on how to make a child’s bench and how he revived a bud room bench.

We’d love to see your finished projects! Share photos of your step-by-step process or finished product on our Facebook page.