How to Make a Drop Zone Storage Bench
By: Danny Lipford
Adding a built-in drop zone to a mud room or inside another entry to your home is a great way to keep shoes, coats, and book bags organized and easy to find.
The bench has pull-out drawers, a back made from beadboard paneling, coat hooks, and a storage shelf. Here’s how to make a drop zone bench for your home.
How to build a drop zone bench:
- Remove the baseboards in the area for the drop zone using a hammer and flat pry bar.
- Mark a level line on the back and side walls 3/4” below the desired seat height for the top of the cleats (we made our seat 18” high, so the line for the cleats was 17¼” from the floor).
- Attach cleats for the bench top to the studs in the back and side walls using screws (we used 2x4s for the side wall cleats and a 1×2 for the back wall cleat).
- Attach cleats to the side and back walls near the floor to support the base of the drawer cabinet (the top of our cleats were 1¼” from the floor).
- Cut two pieces of 3/4″ plywood to size for the seat and base (we made ours 18” deep by 48” wide).
- Cut a 3/4″ wide by 3/8” deep dado in the bottom of the seat and the top of the base to accept a vertical plywood center support.
- Cut a vertical center support to size from 3/4″ plywood (ours was 18” deep by 16” high).
- Fit the vertical support in the seat and base dados and secure it with nails and glue.
- Build a face frame to cover the front edges of the seat/base unit (our frame had 2” wide rails and 3/4″ wide stiles).
- Attach the face frame to the seat/base unit using nails and glue.
- Slide the seat/base unit in place on the wall cleats and secure it to the cleats with finish nails.
- Cut a piece of beadboard paneling to size (ours was 4’ wide by 40” high), and attach it to the wall above the seat with construction adhesive.
- Cut a rabbet in the back of a 1” by 6” board, and attach it horizontally on the wall above the beadboard.
- Attach 1x2s to the sides of the bench unit and beadboard to hide any wall gaps.
- Attach cleats walls above the coat rack to support a shelf.
- Cut a shelf to size (ours was 11¼” by 48”), and attach it to the shelf cleats.
- Construct two pull-out trays to fit under the bench for shoe storage, and mount them on the base using heavy-duty drawer slides.
- Prime and paint the entire unit, then attach coat hooks to the horizontal board above the beadboard.
Watch this video to find out more.
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- How to Make a Bucket Shoe Caddy (video)
Danny Lipford: A drop zone is a great way to organize jackets, bags, and shoes near an entry to your home. This one is carefully tucked in between two shallow walls, and it’s very easy to build.
Begin by removing the baseboards along the floor. Next, establish the height of the seat and attach cleats to the back and side walls to support it. We’re using two-by-fours on the sides and a one-by-two across the back. Just be sure to locate the wall studs so you know where to attach the cleats securely. We’re also attaching one-by cleats on the floor to support the bottom of the cabinets we’ll construct under the seat.
That base, the center support, and the seat are all made from three-quarter-inch plywood. The center support is dadoed into both the seat and the base to add rigidity.
Next, we constructed a face frame with one-by material to cap off the end grain of the plywood and give the front a nice, finished look. That frame is secured to the plywood pieces with glue and finish nails. Then the whole assembly is slipped into place on the wall cleats and secured with finish nails.
Above the seat we’re attaching a piece of beadboard paneling to the wall with construction adhesive and nails. This will fill the space between the seat and the one-by-six that will form the coat rack. The one-by-six has a rabbet, or notch, along the lower edge to allow it to overlap the beadboard when it is installed and nailed in place.
A few inches above the coat rack we’ve installed more cleats to support a shelf. One-by-twos are used to border the seat and beadboard and conceal the gaps at the edges. Two small trays are constructed from the remaining three-quarter-inch plywood. And after a little paint and the addition of some heavy duty drawer guides, they make great roll out shoe storage.
Once all the nail holes are puttied and everything is painted, the drop zone is a useful and attractive addition to the home.