daviddoria

How to clamp a built-in bench

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Hi guys,

I have a very simple build planned that I don't know how to get to its desired location :). Check out the attached picture.

 

Top:

A top-down view of the space. It is a closet that I took the doors off, so there are two "columns" on either side of where I want the bench.

 

Bottom:

A front view of the bench (just a box with cubbies).

 

So, if I assemble the bench outside of the closet, I won't be able to get it into the closet! But if I try to assemble in-place, then I won't be able to attach one of the outside panels (I was planning to use dominos for all of the joints).

The only thing I came up with was to leave the bench an inch or so short so I could get some clamps in there to pull the last panel into the assembly. Any other ideas? What would you guys do here?

 

Thanks,


David

bench.jpg

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I would build the two outer sets of cubbies as seperate cases, set them in place against the columns, then add the inner cubbies between. Then the top, last. Similar to cabinets that span wall to wall. A face frame can cover the joints between cabinets.

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A lot of cabinetry is double walled in the center divider, with a face frame that hides how the two halves are screwed together. The top then covers from the top. 

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What if you built the base in multiple pieces? Two or four separate cabinets. You could assemble outside the closet and then would be able to slide the pieces in place and tie it all together with a single top, and possibly screws through the sides. You could also do a face frame to make the base look like a single unit. 

Edit: they beat me to it. 

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I am assuming that the three walls of the "closet" are stud walls with drywall covering. I would use the walls for the main support for your bench. Do this by attaching ledger strips (1x2) to the studs with either screws or nails for each horizontal shelf. Make the ledger strips continuous all around the three sides and make sure they are level. Make the vertical supports only tall enough to support each shelf rather than full height. This would be a good place to use pocket screws to fasten them at the bottom. The top can be fastened by using finish nails down through the next shelf. Continue building up one level at a time until complete. Counter sink any exposed nail heads and fill exposed pocket holes with plugs, sand and paint.

Keep in mind that your stud walls are probably not perfectly square, particularly in the corners. So, depending on how precisely you want your shelves to fit, you may want to make a cardboard template to follow for cutting your shelves; particularly the top one. A small molding will work well for concealing any remaining gaps.

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@Wimayo Why would you recommend this over full length vertical supports that put the weight on the floor (vs the wall, as in your suggestion)?

I was actually planning to build basically another one of these and put it above the bench (like at head-height) as additional storage. I haven't yet thought through attaching those, but I was thinking to integrate a few inch horizontal strip at the top of the top cubby and just screw it to the wall like you would with a normal cabinet. Seem reasonable?

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Using the method I suggested would be easier to do (and probably quicker) by doing it one "layer' at a time. Each horizontal "shelf" can be pre-cut and dropped into place onto the prepared supports. Because everything is supported around the perimeter by the stud walls, there is no concern with rigidity issues. If you put each vertical mid support over the top of the one below, the load is still transferred to the floor.

There is nothing against using full height mid supports. However, then you have to futz around with individual supports for all the small shelves. If you want those to be adjustable, then that is the way you would want to do it. Just be sure you install your adjustable support system prior to or as you install the verticals. I think the support system would be more difficult to install after the fact.

This is only an alternative way of building the project. If you prefer to pre-build your box before installation, I think you should consider doing it with at least two separate units. This will require more material because you are no longer using the existing stud walls for part of the structure.

I would likely build the upper units like a kitchen cupboard and hang them using french cleats. Because you won't have the floor to help support them, they need to be structurally more self supporting.

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