DIY Storage Bench

Posted on: January 28th, 2013 by Sandra Powell 29 Comments

These free project plans are for an 18″ tall bench that can be stained, pained or upholstered with storage inside.    Perfect for a bedroom, living room, playroom or anywhere else one might need an extra seat with some hidden storage.Free plans for a super easy storage bench.

Free plans for a super easy storage bench.

Tools and materials needed:3/4″ Lumber of your choice cut into the following pieces.  (MDF, Cabinet grade plywood or Sanded ply with smooth side on the inside of bench)

  • 2@    16 1/2″ x 14″  (sides)
  • 2@    16 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ (narrow sides)
  • 2@    14″ x 14″ (bottom and top)
  • 2@    12 1/2″ long scrap strips about 1″ wide (cleats)
  • wood glue
  • Finish nails and/or 1 3/4″ wood screws  (I used my 16 ga nail gun and SPAX MDF screws)
  • Kreg pocket hole jig (if planning on painting or staining instead of upholstering)
  • Assembly Square
  • felt or plastic bumpers to protect your floors
  • Staple gun and fabric for upholstering.  I used 1 yard per box.  *Depending on the width of your fabric you might need more or less.
You can build 3 benches of this size out of one 4×8 sheet of lumber if you have it cut like this.
*You”ll have to trim 2 of the 16 1/2″ x 14″ pieces down to 16 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ per bench.

Upholstered storage benches - cut list


Step 1:  Glue and nail or screw the narrow sides INSIDE the sides.  As illustrated below.  Use a triangle, assembly square or corner clamps to make sure you assemble it square.

Storage bench free plans and tutorial

Step 1:  Alternate assembly option for staining and painting so you don”t have visible nail or screw holes.

  • Drill pocket holes on edges of narrow sides (12 1/2″ x 16 1/2″)

Storage bench free plans and tutorial

  • Drive pocket hole screws on the INSIDE of the box.

Storage bench free plans and tutorial


Step 2:  Attach bottom with glue and nails or screws. (if you bottom doesn”t line up with your sides, something is wonky.  More than likely, the box isn”t square.  If that is the case, convince it to get square.)Storage bench free plans and tutorial

 Step 3:  Attach the cleats to the top.  Use wood glue and 1 1/4″ nails.  The cleats need to be inset 3/4″ in from all sides.

Storage bench free plans and tutorial


So the cleats will fit perfectly inside the bench.  The cleats will keep the top from sliding which is especially necessary when using it as a seat.

Depending on what material you use, this bench could be painted, stained or upholstered.  If painting or staining, you would want to fill all nail and screw holes and sand very well. *Make sure you put bumpers on the bottom to protect your flooring.  The bottom was secured with nails or screws which could really scratch up wood floors, snag carpet and tear rugs.  Take the extra few minutes to put bumpers on the bench!

Free plans for a super easy storage bench.


This project eBook includes both methods of building:  pocket screws and wood screws.

$4.99 Add to cart

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Disclaimer: Although it is my intention to provide accurate plans and clear instructions, not all plans have been tried and tested. Using plans or information found on indicates that you agree with the Terms of Use policy and will accept full responsibility for the process and outcome of any project you attempt. All plans are for private use only. Plans and information published on may not be reproduced, republished or distributed in any manner without written permission from Sandra Powell, Sawdust Girl. Actual projects built using Sawdust Girl plans may be published on your own site without instructions or "tutorial" as long as you provide a link to my original post with full post title or "" as link title.

29 thoughts on “DIY Storage Bench

  1. Laura says:

    I can’t wait to do this! I have a huge plank of 1/2-inch plywood in the basement. Can I use that instead? How important is it to have 3/4-inch plywood? Thanks!!

    • Sandra says:

      If you use 1/2″ instead of 3/4″ it will change the dimensions slightly and it won’t be strong and sturdy. If you plan on just using it as a storage box, go for it. If you plan on sitting on it, I would stick with 3/4″.

  2. Sommer says:

    Thank you! This is awesome!! Just an estimate how much do you think it cost to make one?

    • Sommer says:

      Blonde moment just saw the older comment on $25 for wood! So with my choice fabric and materials I could make 3-4 under $50!

      • Sandra says:

        If you can find a good deal on Plywood. Normally a sheet of MDF or plywood is about $$35-40. It also depends on material and foam/batting costs. But still, for 3 benches…it’s pretty darn good.

  3. Priscilla says:

    I think I would like to try this project. I wonder how do you finish the edges of the side when you upholster?

    • Sandra says:

      I’m sorry Priscilla, I don’t understand the question. It is 3 am and I should be sleeping but hey, gotta do what I gotta do. LOL Please expound on your question. What do you mean when you refer to “sides”?

      • Priscilla says:

        LOL, it was late when I posted too, sorry I wasn’t more clear with the question. I am wondering how you join the seam where the fabric meets on the vertical sides when you upholster the box so that you get a clean edge. Hopefully that is a better way of framing the question. Thanks!

  4. Maria says:

    Great project! Would you be able to give the upholstering instructions? I already have the cubes. Do you use batting? I can see how to upholster the lid but am not sure how to wrap the fabric around the boxes Thanks!

  5. Stephanie says:

    Hi Sandra,
    I also have the cubes made but am unsure of how you upholstered your material. I don’t need a super detailed response, just a basic understanding of what materials you used (other than the 1 yard of fabric), whether you stapled or nailed in the fabric, and how you finished the seam.
    Thank you so much for sharing. We are thrilled about our benches.

  6. Carolyn Tucker says:

    Same question how do you cover the box, . Is the lid stuffed. And how di you cover the bottom.