This garden or courtyard bench seat is really a mini shed. It's large enough to take all your garden hand tools from brooms, spades and rakes to gloves, pots and secateurs. Yet when the lid is down you have a handy timber bench seat and the tools will be kept dry.
If you have a pool, it is also ideal for storing pool toys, umbrellas and chemicals in sealed containers, without having to find room in the laundry. And if you have a need for storage on the verandah or deck, it can be used as an outdoor 'mud room' holding gum boots, work boots, gloves and hats, and even firewood.
While not totally waterproof in the event of a major downpour, it will shed most rainwater. And best of all, with its low sleek lines and oiled merbau hardwood timber finish, it will look great anywhere.
Gather your supplies
- A Box ends (2) 500 x 340 x 12mm exterior plywood
- B Cleats (6) 31 x 31 x 340mm merbau
- C Box sides (2) 1630 x 340 x 12mm exterior plywood
- D Box base 1630 x 524 x 12mm exterior plywood
- E Lid 1635 x 530 x 12rnm exterior plywood
- F End cladding (6) 90 x 19 x 524rnm merbau
- G Side cladding (6) 90 x 19 x 1668mm merbau
- H Feet (10) 90 x 19 x 90mm merbau
- I Short lid surrounds (2) 90 x 19 x 530mm merbau
- J Long lid surrounds (2) 90 x 19 x 1673mm merbau
- K Top cladding (6) 90 x 19 x 1800mm merbau
You'll also need
Exterior PVA glue; 1.5 inch (38mm) stainless steel screws; exterior oil
STEP 1 15mm in from the outer edges of the box ends (A) mark in the position of 3 holes to fix to the cleats (B), 1 in the centre and 1 each 25mm from top and bottom. If you have one, use a 2-in-1 screw pilot bit to drill the clearance and countersink holes at the same time, making pre-drilling much quicker. Otherwise drill the clearance hole and then change to a countersinking bit to bore a housing for the screw heads. In the same way drill another 3 holes 27mm in from the edge of the box sides (C). Add another row of holes halfway along the sides.
STEP 2 Glue and clamp the cleats to the edge of an end (ideally if short of flush by a fraction of a millimetre you will get tighter joints). Cleats not only give a better surface to screw into, they also greatly increase the gluing area making for a stronger joint. Once clamped, turn them over and drill pilot holes into the cleats to screw in from the outside using stainless steel screws.
STEP 3 Form the whole box by screwing the sides to the ends in the same way. Add a strengthening cleat halfway along the sides where the holes have been predrilled. Then add the base (D) screwing directly into the edge of the plywood after predrilling and into the bottom of the cleats. Cut the lid (E) to be about 5mm over size so that when it is fitted to the box it is not too tight. It will be held in location with merbau.
STEP 4 Measure and cut the merbau decking for the end cladding (F). On each end of the cladding accurately mark in the screw holes 30mm in from the ends and 20mm from top and bottom edges so that when the unit is assembled all the stainless steel screws will line up, giving a professional looking finish. Repeat this on the long side cladding (G), but here add a third hole centred and 10mm in from the ends. Also mark for 2 holes at the centre of each long board spaced 20mm from the top and bottom edges.
STEP 5 Again using a screw pilot bit, drill the holes and countersink for the screw heads. This is necessary as the stainless steel screws we are using don't have self-countersinking heads. Even if they did, it's nearly impossible to bury the screw head in hardwood when screwing through into plywood.
STEP 6 Back on the box mark 78mm down from the top, then add a further 10mm for the space to the top of the upper piece of cladding to be fixed to the box. Then add further spacings of 90, 10, 90 and 10mm for the other boards. Draw lines right around the box at these heights.
STEP 7 Apply construction adhesive where one of the top pieces of end cladding is to go, predrill pilot holes for the screws, then screw on. The stainless steel screws will remain a visible feature, lasting indefinitely and not rusting. Repeat for the other end, then check the length and add the topmost side cladding piece so it is flush with the end cladding.
STEP 8 Keep working on 1 side and the ends, then turn box on its other face and finish the side cladding. Do not screw cladding to the top 78mm section of the box. Also, at this stage leave out the bottom-most screws as there is nothing for them to bite into as yet.
STEP 9 Screw pairs of feet (H) together for a total thickness of 38mm. Screw 1 of these double square blocks into each corner, screwing from inside. Screw the 2 leftover blocks in the centre along each side. Screw the bottom-most screws of the cladding into the feet and centre blocks.
STEP 10 Fix the short lid surrounds (I) to the edge of the lid, with the screws located 50mm from the ends and 1 in the centre. Similarly glue and screw the long surrounds (J) to the lid with screw spacing of 200 and 520mm from each and 1 in the middle. Also drive 2 screws into the ends of the end surrounds.
STEP 11 Set out the top cladding (K) so there will be a 15mm overhang at the sides and equal spacing at the ends. Space the intermediate slats so there are equal spaces between (around 12mm). Set out the screw positions to coincide with ends and the screws in the sides, then glue and screw in place from the top, again making a feature of the stainless steel screws.
STEP 12 Use a rubber eraser to quickly and easily remove pencil setting out marks, sand the timber, then give the unit 2 coats of a clear exterior oil finish such as Intergrain Nature's Timber Oil.
Source: Better Homes and Gardens magazine, June 2006
Stockists: Garden storage box designed by John Rae, Serendipity Furniture, 0402 626 993 (Sydney only) Hardwood exterior plywood, Mister Ply&Wood, 1300 138 771 or www.misterplywood.com.au.