Window Seat Part 2 of 2

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One great way to add cozy charm to a room is to build a window seat. Not only do window seats make a room more inviting, they provide functional benefits as well, particularly when you surround them with built-in shelving. The window seat shown here has a base built from above-the-refrigerator cabinets. This size provides just the right height (when placed on a 3” curb) to create a comfortable seat.

 

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Continue to Step 1

Overview

One great way to add cozy charm to a room is to build a window seat. Not only do window seats make a room more inviting, they provide functional benefits as well, particularly when you surround them with built-in shelving. The window seat shown here has a base built from above-the-refrigerator cabinets. This size provides just the right height (when placed on a 3” curb) to create a comfortable seat.
Above the cabinets and flanking each side is a site-made bookcase. A top shelf bridges the two cases and ties the whole thing together—while creating still more space for storage or display.
Cutting List
Part
No.
Desc.
Size
Material

A
2
Outer standard
3⁄4 x 11 1⁄2 x 77 1⁄4"
MDF

B
2
Inner standard
3⁄4 x 11 1⁄2 x 63 1⁄4"
MDF

C
6
Shelf
3⁄4 x 16 1⁄2 x 11 1⁄4"
MDF

D
1
Top shelf
3⁄4 x 11 1⁄4 x 70 1⁄2"
MDF

E
1
Top backer
1⁄4 x 13 1⁄4 x 71 3⁄8"
Plywood

F
2
Backers
1⁄4 x 17 1⁄2 x 63 1⁄4"
Plywood

G
1
Seatboard
3⁄4 x 25 x 74"
MDF

H
2
Bridge cabinets
15 h x 36" w
Stock cabinets

I
2
End panel
3⁄4 x 24 x 18"
MDF

J
4
Nailer
3⁄4 x 2 1⁄2 x 15"
Plywood

K
1
Ledger
3⁄4 x 2 1⁄2 x 72"
Plywood

L
2
Curb rim
3⁄4 x 3 x 72"
MDF

M
4
Curb strut
3⁄4 x 3 x 22 1⁄2"
MDF

N
1
Cabinet nailer
3⁄4 x 3 x 72"
MDF

From: Complete Guide to Custom Shelves & Built-Ins, 978-1-58923-303-4

What You'll Need

Tools:

Miter saw
Table saw
Circular saw
Drill/driver
Level
Stud finder
Hammer
Tape measure
Nail set
Pneumatic nailer/compressor
Router
Shooting board
Sander
Framing square

Materials:

2) 15" upper refrigerator cabinets
2) 3/4" x 4 x 8 ft. pcs. MDF or plywood
Screws/nails
1) 1/4" x 4 x 8 ft. lauan plywood
Caulk
Primer
Paint

 

Step 1

Install the Base Cabinets - Step 7

Cut, rout and install the seat top. Cutting a 74" x 25" blank from MDF (medium-density fiberboard) works well. This will create a one inch overhang at the front and sides of the cabinets. Use a router and bit with a decorative profile (such as an ogee or a plain round over) to smooth the hard edge of the MDF (photo 10). Profiling the edge reduces the chance that the edge will chip or crack. Position the seat top on top of the cabinets and the wall ledger and fasten it from the interior of the cabinets using coarse-threaded drywall screws. A bead of panel adhesive along the top edges of the cabinet and the ledger helps ensure a solid connection.


Step 2

Cut the Case Stock - Step 1

The bookcase portion of the window seat can be assembled from sheet stock (MDF is a good choice) or solid 1x stock, such as 1 x 12 pine or poplar (pine is cheaper, poplar is stronger and takes paint better) or hardwood like maple, oak, or cherry for staining. Whatever material you choose, install a backer sheet of 1/4" plywood that fits into rabbets in the backs of the case stock to help ensure square assembly and provide a strong connection point to the wall.
The actual width of 1 x 12 dimension lumber is 11 1/2", so if using sheet stock, rip all pieces to width. Any edges that face the interior of the room need to be sanded smooth to remove saw marks. Note that it’s usually easier to dress the factory edge than the edge cut on-site. Running the pieces on a jointer or router table is a fast, accurate way to dress the edge. A belt sander or finish sander with fine grit paper works too, but be careful not to remove too much stock. Of course, you can also hand sand it.


Step 3

Cut the Case Stock - Step 2

Cut a 1/2" wide by 1/4" deep rabbet (see drawing, page 81) on the backs of the standards. You can do this with a table saw (either make multiple passes on the table saw to remove stock or use a stacked dado head cutter blade); using a router with a rabbeting bit; or on a jointer or router table. The remainder of the layout and sizing must be registered from the seat top to accommodate specific site conditions.


Step 4

Install the Top-Shelf Backer

The remaining measurements for the backer and shelf dimensions are now determined by the distance between your window casing, vertical layout lines, and ceiling height. They must be site-measured for accuracy.
Lay out the top shelf backer. It should fit between the ceiling and the top of the window casing—and between your vertical layout lines. To calculate the top shelf backer dimensions, measure between the vertical layout lines. Subtract 5/8". To calculate top shelf backer height, measure from the top of the window casing to the ceiling. Subtract 1/8". Install the top shelf backer tight to the ceiling by fastening to studs with finish nails or screws.


Step 5

Fabricate & Assemble the Book Cases - Step 1

The bookcases’ outside edges run from the seat-top to the ceiling. The inside edges run from the seat-top to the top of the window casing. Measure and cut each vertical bookcase member to length. On a flat surface, lay all the bottoms of the bookcase members flush and mark out your shelves. Use a framing square to mark them. Keep in mind there is a bottom shelf that sits directly above the seat top. The top shelf is installed later.
Lay out and cut the backer stock. To calculate the width, measure the distance between the window casing and the vertical layout line, minus 1/2". To calculate the height, measure the distance from the seat top to the bottom edge of the top backer and subtract 1/8".


Step 6

Fabricate & Assemble the Book Cases - Step 2

Assemble the cabinet sides and the backers. This is an ideal application for a pneumatic 1/4" crown stapler, but it can also be done effectively by pre-drilling and screwing, or by using a pneumatic finish nailer. Use a framing square as a reference to be sure the cabinet carcasses are as square as possible during assembly. Measure, cut, and install shelves at the layout lines. Fasten through the cabinet carcass into the shelves. Pre-drill and countersink if using screws.


Step 7

Install the Book Cases & Top Shelf - Step 1

Butt the left bookcase to the window trim and fasten it to a wall stud with a few screws or nails driven through the backer. Make sure the case sits as tightly to the wall, seat top, and window trim as possible.


Step 8

Install the Book Cases & Top Shelf - Step 2

Expect to make some on-site corrections as necessary to accommodate out-of-plumb walls or other imperfections. Slight gaps can be caulked later. Repeat for the right-side bookcase and then measure, cut and install the top shelf. If painting, caulk wherever necessary. Fill exposed holes for nails and screws, then prime and paint or apply another finish of your choice. Make or buy a comfortable seat cushion. Finally, brew a cup of coffee, grab a good book, and get busy relaxing.


 
 

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