I have always wanted to make a door bench. I’ve done a lot with door projects, including this small doll bench made from a door. I saw some doors at Vendors’ Village and passed them by. I couldn’t stop thinking about them so I went back within a couple of days and luckily they were still there.
Thrift store doors
Of course I scooped them up and hauled them home without really looking at them to find out that they had been ONE door ripped in half! Heck, I could have done that with one of the many doors in my stash. I just fell in love with their size, color and hardware, hence the HIGH price I paid for them.
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Saw door sections to make a bench
Because they are about 16” I decided to use my sliding compound miter saw to cut them into the pieces I would need to make a door bench. My Rockwell jaw stand came in handy to support the door while I was cutting it.
I could have moved the fence out of the way allowing me to cut the full width of the door, but I chose to leave the fence in place, cut as much as I could and then flip it over.
Even up crooked door on table saw
One of the half doors was not cut very straight, so I used the table saw to straighten it out.
I sorted through my screws and decided to use those extra long pocket hole screws for as much as the construction as I can.
Make necessary repairs
FULL disclosure! My mind (thoughts) drifted and I cut the second ½ door in the wrong place. I pondered what to do, and decided that I couldn’t use it for the “seat”, but if I repaired it properly I could use it for the back of the bench. Enter some Gorilla Wood Glue and my Kreg Jig and pocket hole screws.
Design your door bench
This is the design stage of the door bench. Laying it on it’s back on the driveway seemed like the easiest way to get my measurements right. The red arrow points to the accidental cut I made.
Not shown, I sanded the half of the door parts that were brown. During the design stage, I placed all of the brownish parts toward the center and the bare wood parts toward the outside.
Construct door bench with pocket hole screws
In this image you can see the existing pocket holes—the bandaid for the oops cut.
The Kreg Jig is in place to drill the pocket holes to secure the back of the bench to the sides.
If you don't have a pocket hole jig, you can use "L" brackets or mending plates. However, if you do a lot of projects, I highly recommend you investing in one of these jigs. For more details see my post How To Use A Kreg Jig
These are the holes I drilled in the above picture. Notice that the back is at a slight slant, making the bench more comfortable to sit on.
Even with the “oops” the bench went together very quickly. I could have called it done here, and maybe you will think I should have.
Add trim to door bench
I had some molding in the garage and cut it to fit around the bottom of the bench (left).Next, I did the same thing for the right side. Then I thought it needed a little something more.
Armrests for door bench
Scrap 1x4’s were notched out to fit the back of the bench to make armrests.
While doing the dry fit with the armrest I decided that it was a little too wide.
An easy fix with a trip to the table saw.
I prefer to round over the edges to give the armrest a more “worn in” look.
I used Gorilla Construction Adhesive and my nail gun to secure the armrests and the molding at the bottom of the bench.
Time to paint
Although I really wanted to keep the original finish of the doors, but it just wasn’t working.
Notice the mesh paint strainer, I always use it with my Finish Max.
Raising the bench up on my easy diy sawhorses makes it easier to paint. I always paint the underneath side first.
See? After I painted the underneath side, I was able to pivot the bench so I could easily paint the rest of it. I did two light coats of the chalky paint primer. I did not use any of the Marquee paint straight out of the can. (which I typically do to seal the chalky paint)
The brown is pretty, but this is an old door and I think the bench should look old.
I’ll spare you the gory details of how I tried to do a crackle finish by spraying diluted glue through the Finish Max. I have successfully done a crackle finish by painting the glue on, and spraying the paint through the Finish Max. But it was a smaller chalkboard project. Because the door bench is so large, I knew the glue would dry too quickly should I try to brush it on, and then spray the paint.
Crackle finish for door bench
So, I went old school with this and painted on some slightly diluted white school glue.
There is a very small window of opportunity to get the correct look. I worked in small sections and it took a long time.
After the paint dried, I sanded it with some brown craft paper to give it a really smooth well worn finish.
I totally get that the paint finish isn’t for everyone. Personally I love how it turned out, and I think the addition of the molding and the armrests really make it look more like a church pew.
Here is the bench at Glendale 2016. It did sell, to a lady that really wanted a small church pew. She looked all around the craft fair AND the antique shops and ended up coming back to the booth several times before she finally took it home with her. Everyone WAS drawn to the Imagine pillow which is available on Amazon by clicking that link.
Where would you use this bench? If you love this bench, won't you Pin It?
ps Seasons of Life Tree Pillow is available on Amazon.
Gail Wilson is the author and mastermind behind My Repurposed Life. She is obsessed with finding potential in unexpected places and believes that with a little hard work and imagination, any old thing can be made useful again, including herself!
Gail reinvented herself during a midlife crisis and has found purpose again. She hopes you will find new ideas for old things and pick up a few tools along the way.