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Open Shelf Built-In Bench Template

Built In Bench Features and Uses

A sturdy and high quality built in bench that features open shelves.  Works well alone, or as part of a cabinetry set.  All hardwood plywood with baseboard and solid wood supports.
  • Mudroom or Entryway - Add coat hooks or a hutch or shelf with hooks above for a custom mudroom.  For deeper benches, use baskets at the back of the open shelves for out of season shoes, and leave the front open for daily use.
  • Kitchen - Configure to create a banquette in the kitchen, or built in kitchen bench
  • Window Seat - Perfect bench for under a window seat.  Add cabinetry on either side for a built in window seat wall.
  • Media Console Bench - Add a TV on the wall above and towers on either side for a media suite wall
  • Toy Storage - Add custom toy storage shelves above for a beautiful and organized toy center

Video of How to Build a Built-In Bench

Here's a quick video showing you the entire process of how this bench was built.  Also included is step by step details and diagrams below.


Designing Your Built-In Bench

Use our free Shelf Help Configurator to design your bench to fit your space.  Here is the exact bench dimensions for the photograph and video:

Design Considerations

When designing your built-in bench, here's a few tips to help you get professional looking results:
  • Overall height should be between 16-18"
  • Overall width up to 8 feet - if longer, you will need to add a solid wood top as max plywood length is 8 feet, or break the bench up into two or more.
  • Depth is recommended at 20-1/4" or 23-1/4"
  • Avoid shelf spans more than 36", as the wood may start to sag
  • Consider the size of any baskets or bins to fit in shelves
  • Consider the height of baseboard trim when placing the shelf heights.  Normal baseboards are 3-1/4" and 5-1/4".

Main Carcass Assembly

Once you have completed the design of your bench, either order the pieces or download the drawings and print out and cut plywood as directed in the cut list.  Also finish front edges with edge banding.
Mark out all pocket holes on plywood, and drill pocket holes on 3/4" setting.  Use 3-4 pocket holes per joint, evenly spaced.  Avoid pocket holes too close to the edge.
Assemble the bench, using 1-1/4" pocket hole screws and glue.

Bay Supports

The plywood carcass needs to be reinforced with bay supports.
Cut four 1x3s per bay, to match the widths of the shelves.
For the front, top bay support, only drill two pocket holes on each end, and attach.  Then attach to the underside of the top with 1-1/4" screws (can use pocket hole screws), inset about 1/4" from the front edge for dimension.
For the remainder of the bay supports, drill two pocket holes on each end, and then pocket holes facing upward every 8-12".  Attach with pocket holes facing backwards.

Base Trim

Base trim finishes out the bottom.  If you are adding other cabinetry components, for example towers on either side, add base trim in place, wrapping all cabinetry.
For standalone bench, simply cut the base trim with a miter saw, with corners at 45 degrees, and nail on with 3/4" brad nails and wood glue.


The wood can be finished in a variety of ways, from stains to paints.  This bench was primed and painted with several coats of semigloss paint.