This reading nook is the perfect cozy spot for your little reader to curl up with a good book. Check out the video for further details. Thanks for checking it out.
Step 1: Cut List & Breaking Down the Plywood.
This whole bench is comprised mostly of (2) 4’x8′ sheets of maple furniture grade plywood. From these two panels you will need to cut them down to the following dimensions:
2 @ 18″ x 55″
1 @ 14″ x 53 1/2″
2 @ 18″ x 18″
6 @ 14″ x 18″
2 @ 4″ x 18″
When I built this project I didn’t yet have a track saw. A track saw is ideal, but this Kreg rip jig for a circular saw also works very well.
Step 2: Assemble the Seat Backs & Attach to Bench Top Panel.
The two seat backs lean back at a 37 degree angle.
- Set your saw blade to 37 degrees and cut this angle on the top and bottom of two 18″ x 18″ panels. These angles face the same direction on top and bottom.
- Assemble two seat backs as shown above with the 18″ x 18″ angled panel, the 4″ x 18″ panel, and a 14″ x 18″ panel. I used wood glue and a few brad nails to hold it together until they are attached to the bench top panel.
- Trace the inside dimensions of each seat back on some plywood off cuts, and cut these out on a bandsaw. These will be the center divider/supports for the seat backs.
- Cut three spacer blocks so the center dividers sit 9 inches in from the back.
- Drill in a few pocket holes to attach to the seat back uprights, but make sure to hide them on the back side that will get covered up later. Also ensure you can get to the pocket holes to drive in the screws. This angle can be tight.
- Attach the seat backs to the bench top panel with a generous amount of screws; making sure to pre-drill and countersink.
Step 3: Bench Carcass Assembly.
The bench is 18 inches deep, but you wouldn’t want the book storage to be that deep. The solution is to add a lengthwise center divider for support, and to make the book storage only 9 inches deep. This center divider is split up with two perpendicular dividers that get joined with a half lap joint. I cut the half laps with a dado blade, but there are other methods of doing this; i.e. a router, bandsaw, handsaw, etc.
- Each book cubby is spaced about 18 inches wide. Mark out the half lap joints half the width of the center divider. (7 inches)
- Cut the 3/4″ dados to match the thickness of the plywood, and chisel out what the saw blade couldn’t reach if you used a dado blade.
- Cut in a 7 inch dado on the two 14″ x 18″ perpendicular dividers.
- Before assembling the center support drill pocket holes all the way around the perimeter on the back of the panel. (a backer board will cover these up in a later step.)
- Glue in the half lap joints of the dividers.
- Attach the bottom panel and connect with pocket screws.
- Attach the 14″ x 18″ end panels with pocket screws.
- Drill in all remaining pocket screws.
Step 4: Face Frame Installation.
To cover the exposed plies I made a face frame out of hardwood maple to match the plywood veneer. You could also do this with iron on edge banding, but it wouldn’t look entirely right where it wraps around on the side.
- Prepping the maple. I used my jointer and planer to get the 4/4 maple board down to the proper thickness which is the same as the plywood.
- Cut the maple into half inch strips and to fit the bench carcass. Two of these strips need to be at least 56″ long.
- Glue on the face frame and hold in place with tape.
- I had the face frame wrap around the two sides as shown above. To attach these I used a combination of wood glue and CA glue. This allows the CA glue to quickly dry and hold the face frame in place while the wood glue dries and forms the stronger bond.
- Flush trim any overhanging face frame pieces.
- Sand flush and smooth making sure to slightly round over the edges so they are not sharp.
Step 5: Cushion Assembly and Installation.
The cushions are made with a 1/2″ plywood backer board, and seat foam. I also using batting and fabric from Joann’s.
- Cut the 1/2″ plywood panels to fit the two seat backs and bench top. Roughly 2 @ 17″ x 18″, and 1 @ 26″ x 18″. Just measure to fit, and cut them slightly smaller to account for the foam, batting, fabric, and spacing.
- Round over or chamfer the plywood with a router to create a smooth transition of the material around the edge.
- Attach the cushions with spray adhesive.
- Cut the foam to fit with an electric knife.
- Cut the batting to fit, and pull tight over the cushion. Attach to plywood bottom with staples. Work from the center out, finishing with and trimming the corners.
- Cut and attach the fabric in the same manner as the batting, making sure to pull tight and even. Take your time with this step so it looks right.
- Finish the whole bench with 3-4 coats of clear shellac making sure to sand between coats. I added a coat of paste wax after to give it a more durable, smooth finish.
- Attach the cushions with screws from underneath.
Step 6: Backer Board, and Rubber Feet Installation.
- Using 1/8″ plywood cut a backer board to fit over the back and hide all those pocket holes. I cut a piece for the lower rectangle first, and then cut the seat back pieces to fit on the bandsaw.
- Attach four rubber feet.
Thats it, you’re all done! Now just watch your little one’s face light up when they see their new reading nook. Thanks for checking it out, and refer to the YouTube video for further instructions. Hit that subscribe button while you’re there. Shoot me a message if you have any technical questions. I am happy to help.