This was the first time I have ever designed and built a project from scratch. In the past, most of my projects have come directly off of a set of plans or I modified plans to fit my needs. With this project, I talked to my wife and asked what she would like me to build. She wanted a hall tree bench for our entry way. This was my initial concept drawing.
As you can see, I made some changes from the initial concept to the finished product. I was initially going to make it very rustic, using cedar. However, I really like a more clean look, so I went with Cherry. The final dimensions also changed. I kept it 84″ tall, but had to make it 62″ wide to be able to fit in the space. I only have about 1/8″ to spare between the baseboards.
I used a high quality cherry veneered plywood for the top and bottom carcass construction. I don’t have a track saw and I did not want to deal with cutting the 4×8 sheets down on my table saw, so I used a straight edge and a circular saw to break it down to rough dimension. I used the blue tape to minimize tear out. It turned out much better than I expected. At $107 per sheet, I was nervous cutting into it. Once the parts were cut down to manageable sizes, I used my table saw to make the dados.
I refinished all of the interior parts. It’s so much easier to do it this way. It makes the final result much better. This was my first time using an HVLP system. The system I have is an inexpensive Earlex unit, but it seemed to work well.
One thing I was struggling with for the entire build was how to make the barn-door hardware. I knew I could make the metal parts out of 1 1/4″ steel from Home Depot, but the wheels were stumping me. I bought some black casters and tried to make a groove in them to ride on the track, but that didn’t work out well. First of all, it was very unsafe. I was using the table saw and on 2 occasions, the blade caught the wheel and threw it across the shop. I ended up scrapping the black rubber casters and making some out of the same cherry that I used on the project. I had a 2″ hole saw that worked perfectly. To make the v-groove on the wheels, I set up my router table with a v bit that was mostly buried in the table. Only about 3/16″ was showing. It was much safer and produced a better product.
I also prefer the look, as well. I rubbed some paste wax all over the wheel and on the bolt that goes through the wheel. They roll smoothly and quietly.
For the doors, I resawed the 4/4 cherry to make the panels. This was the first time I’ve ever made doors this way. I’ve done frame and panel doors before, but have always used plywood for the panels. I really wanted to go all out on these and book-match the panels. It’s hard to see in these pictures, but there is quite a bit of curl in the cherry. They turned out really nice.
Overall, I am very happy with how the project turned out. I am a huge fan of cherry and this is the second project in a row where I have used it. It’s extremely easy to work with and finishes beautifully.