How To Make A Monks Bench: A DIY Guide
Foldable furniture is popular in modern times, but the monks bench has lived throughout the ages. In this article, I will walk you through my take on how to make a monks bench. Today, a monks bench has many styles and variations, and I will give you my take on creating a monks bench to serve as a blueprint for your woodworking project.
A monks bench, to put in simpler terms, is a piece of furniture where a table transforms into a seat. This is also a chest for storage. It's a handy and diverse piece of furniture that you can pretty much use in any area of your house. Before we get started, you will have to prepare a few things.
Things to Prepare
Some of the tools mentioned in the list can be found in your woodshop. If you don't have woodworking tools yet, you can purchase these at your local hardware. You can also prefer to do this with manual tools, but in this walkthrough, we will be using power tools. These are the things you will need.
- Wood (2x2)
- Electric screwdriver
- Ruler or measuring tape
Creating Your Plywood Chest/Bench
Knowing how to make a monks bench relies on creating the chest or chair you will be sitting on. This is the fundamental piece that will dictate the success of your entire project. You will have to keep in mind that the chest should be sturdy and durable because this will hold the weight of the person or the things that will be sitting on top of the furniture.
Create your frame:
- The first step is knowing the width and height of your chest. With the measuring tape and ruler, measure and mark the dimensions of your 2x2 wood. You want to have four legs, and four front and back pieces.
- The next step is to cut your frame pieces. Cut the legs, front and back pieces using a jigsaw. Using 2x2's for the frame will provide you with a sturdy and solid foundation for the chest.
- After cutting your four pieces of 2x2's, drill 1 1/2 inch pocket holes into the ends of the front and back pieces, this will help aid your screws penetrating the wood and hide them when we screw the pieces all together.
- Using your screws, attach the pieces to create your wooden frames. Leave around 3 inches when attaching the bottom pieces to add elevation to your legs. Picture a rectangle with the bottom line slightly elevated for a mental visual of the finished product to this step.
- Next, cut four pieces of 2x2 for the sides and remember to measure them consistently. You can picture out a bench seat as your mental guide for measuring the dimension. Drill 1 1/12 inch holes into the ends like step 3 and screw them into the sides of the frames, aligning it with the front and back pieces.
Note: Your chest should resemble a 3D rectangular box with legs elevated 3-inch high. Be sure to measure the sides well since this will serve as the width for the chest and seat of the monk bench.
Add the side panels:
- Using plywood, cut the pieces to fill in all the holes around the trunk and sides of your frame. Measure the dimensions accurately and cut them all in one go to be as consistent as possible.
- Once the plywood is cut to fit, drill 3/4-inch holes around the edges of each one. Using 1 1/4-inch pocket hole screws, attach these panels onto the frame and make sure the sides are flush. If they are not flushed, you can use epoxy to fill in the cracks.
Attach the bottom of the chest:
With your plywood, cut the piece to fill in the bottom of your rectangular chest—Drill 3/4 inch pocket holes around the edges just as we did with the panels. Attach the bottom and make sure it is flush and sturdy.
Add the chest top or seat:
- To make the seat or the chest top, cut the plywood and make it overlap around an inch from the front edge of your rectangular box. Add the hinges and attach this to the back of the plywood. The hinges will connect to the frame of the chest as well. Hinges should be positioned around 2 inches near the edge of the plywood.
- After you've assembled all the pieces, you should be able to close and open your chest top without a problem. There you have it, and you are just one more step away in successfully knowing how to make a monks bench.
Creating The Table or Back Rest
You can be creative with adding the backrest to your project. Some people who already know how to make a monks bench make their backrest/table with old furniture or wood lying around. Examples of creative backrests are old skateboards, round tables, old wooden shelves, and patterned wooden doors. For this project, we will create a simple backrest/table using cut plywood.
Creating the armrest:
- The first thing to do is to cut four pieces of 2x2's, making sure they measure the length of the height you want your table to be, with some added allowance, because we will connect them later to the 2x2s on the chest.
- Cut two pieces of 2x2 to attach to the sides, just like how we did with the chest frame. You should now have inverted U-shape frames that you can connect securely to the chest to make the armrests.
- Drill 3/4-inch holes at the bottom of each piece and attach them to the front and back 2x2's on the chest using one 1/4-inch pocket hole screws. Add as many screws as possible to create a sturdy build.
Creating the table:
- The last thing to do is to add the table. Cut the plywood to the measurement of your table, or use the exact dimensions for the chest top we did earlier.
- Connect the tabletop to the armrest, using hinges. Screw the hinges to the back of the armrest. Ensure that the table is stable when lying flat on the armrest, and when vertical as it transforms as a backrest.
- Do all these steps and don't hesitate to add some input, and you now have learned how to make a monks bench, congratulations!
Woodworking takes a lot of time and patience, but nothing beats finishing a project. I hope this article has shed some light on your woodworking skills. While knowing how to make a monks bench is really up to the creator's imagination, I hope this blueprint can serve as a guide to smoothen the process. Just remember to take your time, especially when handling sharp tools and equipment. The key to good woodworking is to keep on practicing and to enjoy the process.
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