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I built this banquette over the weekend, posted it on Facebook, and now I have a few people asking for plans. While I don’t have any plans specifically, I did take a lot of pictures along the way to show how it was build. I hope this is helpful!

For supplies I used:

  • Kreg Pocket Hole jig with 2.5-in screws
  • 8 96″ 2×4 Whitewood Stud
  • 24′ 1×4 Primed Pine (for top/bottom molding)
  • 30″ Nickel Piano Hinge
  • 48″ Nickel Piano Hinge
  • 40′ 15/16-in White Batten (for panel molding)
  • 5mm (1/4″) Utility Panel (face)
  • 23/32 (3/4″) A/C Arauco Radiata Plywood
  • 1 Qt eggshell paint color matched to cabinets
  • 3/8″ flathead hardwood plugs
  • About 20 2″ screws

Supplies were about $200 total, but because you don’t use a whole box of screws or sheet of plywood, the actual expense was about $140 of that.

I started by framing the bench with 2x4s. I ripped one to 2×2, but that was a mistake. Instead orient this 2×4 the way you see it here on the other bench. This provides support for both sides of the hinged plywood. The benches are designed to put you at about 18″ off the ground with sitting on a cushion, assuming a 2-inch cushion that compresses to about an inch. The wooden frames are 16″ high, and come out about 20″ from the wall to provide space for pillows at the back.

I got a sheet of 3/4″ AC plywood (pretty clean on one side) and 1/4″ primed plywood for the sides. Most home centers will cut these for you to size.

I cut the 1/4 plywood to size for the side panels and taped them in place until I got them all fitting properly.

I cut the lids to size also, before ripping them for the hinges. I usually dry fit everything before I fasten them.

I spaced out the lids with sheets of cardboard.

I ripped the back edges of the lids to place the hinges. In this picture you can see that I repaired the mistake I noted above (with the 2×2 instead of the 2×4).

Installed all the hinges (cut to size with a hack saw) with just a few screws each in case I needed to readjust them.

I used 1×4 primed pine for the trim, working my way around and mitering the outside corners — starting on the bottom. I attached them with a nail gun, and used pieces of card stock to lift them a hair off the ground. (I wanted to make it easier to protect the floor from paint.)

On the top, I wanted to leave a little lip to contain the cushions and help keep them from sliding off the lids. The boards extend about 3/4″ from the top of the lid. At this point, I had to keep one lid open all the time or I’d probably have to use a vacuum to get it back open, so I attached a piece of string stapled to the bottom of one of the lids.

I also made a trim piece to cover the outside corners, and you can see that I did a test fit of the decorative molding, which is just taped into place.

I cut the cut the batten to size carefully so they were all the same size.

I glued them on and held them in place with tape while the glue dried.

I drilled 1-inch holes for finger pulls.

The top trim board is likely going to see a lot of weight, so I reinforced those with some inset 2-inch screws, filling the holes with glued plugs, and then later flush cutting them with a Japanese saw.

Next came the paint, which I had matches to our new cabinets. I started by sliding some card stock under the bottom molding to protect the floor.

Here’s the finished banquette. Next we need to make some cushions!

Technical Information

Files are resized with imagemagick, using: magick convert *.jpg[1000x1000] -interlace line -quality 85 -gravity SouthEast -font Arial -pointsize 14 -fill black -annotate +2+2 "(c)2019 theFrankes.com" -fill white -annotate +3+3 "(c)2019 theFrankes.com" BanquetteZ%03d.jpg

We got a Mazda CX-5 and so far we’re pretty happy with it. We wanted an organizer in the back, though, to help prevent things from falling over and rolling around, and we wanted it to be easy to collapse if necessary. Here’s how we made one for less than $15. Add a few extra dollars for bungee cords to hold the organizer in place if you want. (Mazda recommends that you secure the stuff you put in the back.)

The bins were designed to accommodate our reusable grocery bags, with some tight nooks in the back for things like baseballs, pencil kits, and books. (The kids can open up the middle section and reach back.) Placed close to the back seats, this design still allows access to things stored with the spare tire. It can be disassembled pretty quickly if necessary. 



  • 1 piece of 1x6x10′ pine (whiteboard) lumber, and be sure it’s not splitting at the ends. This should cost about $10 at the home center — ask them to cut it in half for you and you’ll be able to fit it into the CX-5.
  • 1 can of flat black spray paint. I got Painter’s Touch, which was labeled “primer + paint” for less than $4.
  • 2 bungee cords, approximately 18″ long unstretched. We had these laying around from a Harbor Freight assortment kit we got a while back. They’re probably about $1 each, and are use to secure both the organizer to the floor, and secure bags in the two outer bins.
  • 4 3/4″ felt pads. These are really optional, but might help prevent damage to the interior of the car. We had them on had, but you can also pick them up at the home center for a couple dollars.


  1. From each 5-foot length, cut one 41″ board, and one 17″ board.
  2. On both 17″ boards, measure in 1 3/4″ from each end and cut a 3/4″ slot across half the width of the board. Cut both boards together.
  3. On both 41″ boards, measure 13″ from each end and cut a 3/4″ slot across half the width of the board. Cut both boards together.
  4. Also on both 41″ boards, measure about 2 1/2″ from each end and drill a 1/2″ hole so it overlaps the edge of the board enough to fit a bungee cord. Do this on the opposite side from the slots if you want the 41″ boards to hold down the 17″ boards, or on the same side to make the weak ends of the 17″ boards a little more protected from accidental breaks.
  5. Sand, assemble, and paint.
  6. Attach a felt pad to the middle of the end of each 41″ board, and install into car. Run the bungee from the back hook, through the drill holes, and up to the front hook. You can tie a knot in the bungee where it passes through the board to help keep it in place if it slides.


It’s important to note that the small sections of 17″ board on the outside of the 41″ boards will be weak because there’s only 2.5″ against the grain holding them in place. If you’re going to be disassembling/reassembling this a lot, you might want to glue some blocks to those weak areas to strengthen them.

Here’s a great, free, and easy to use online cutting list optimizer and generator for panels or boards. Input cut setting like kerf and trim sizes, the sizes of the stock panels, and the parts you need, and it’ll generate an exportable cut list that uses the stock as efficiently as possible. Props to the find folks at Optimalon Software for making this available to use online.

Linky: http://www.optimalon.com/online_cut_optimizer.htm



At our last 3D Printer Club meeting, the kids on the team started cutting threaded rods. We were clamping the rods to a table with a standard bar clamp to keep them in place. The problem was that they were slipping a lot. One of the adults had to sit on the end of the rod to keep it still. That didn’t seem very safe to me, and so I figured there must a better and safer way to hold them still while they’re being cut. The classroom doesn’t have an appropriate vise to use, so this seemed like a great project for a custom 3d printed object!

I used OpenSCAD, which is a free and open source CAD software tool, to design a simple attachment. The attachment has a v-groove on the bottom to hold a rod in place. (The v-groove is useful because it allows us to use it for different diameters of rods.) It also has a lip around the top to hold it in place on the clamp jaw.

This clamping attachment is going to need to take a lot of pressure, so I printed it with ABS plastic, three perimeters, three top and bottom layers, and 25% honeycomb infill. You can find it on thingiverse here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:44588

Bar Clamp Rod Adapter

It’s not easy to find metric drill bits in the United States. For a lot of applications, letter, fractional, or wire gauge drill bits are accurate enough, are more commonly available, and are much more reasonably priced. This tables shows the closest larger drill bit size for metric sizes from 1 to 10mm. You can also view the spreadsheet directly.

I’m still not fully convinced of the wisdom of a wooden soldering station clamp/vise, but it’s been serving me well nonetheless. It’s my DIY PanaVise! Why buy something if you can make it yourself, right? 🙂

The frame is made from some scrap 3/4 maple, with a steel rod from an old printer’s carriage mechanism and a $3 threaded rod from Home Depot. The legs come off for storage, and they’re scraps from a Dell server shipping pallet. The jaws were originally maple wainscot from a nearby remodeled clubhouse.


DIY Wooden PCB Clamp

DIY Wooden PCB Clamp

I didn’t have the right size metric drill bit for the steel rod, so the clamp isn’t perfect — it’s a little loose and as a result grabs better at the back. I’ll remake those at some point (when I get the right drill bit), and probably make them a bit wider as well. Also it’s just clamped with a little hex nut right now, which is a bit annoying, but I got used to it pretty quickly.

The bit held on with a C-clamp allows me to flip the work up and hold it here if necessary. It’s pretty easy to work with.

Wooden PCB Clamp, Lifted

Wooden PCB Clamp, Lifted

We ran across a picture of a little pig online and my little girl fell in love with it, so we grabbed a sheet of paper and tried to make it. Here’s how it turned out.

Below the photo is the template we drew up to cut out the pieces; it should be pretty obvious what to cut and how many. Enjoy!

Wooden Pig Craft

Wooden Pig Craft

Wooden Pig Template

Wooden Pig Template

If the hot shoe (flash mounting point) on your Canon Digital Rebel camera is loose, then your flash might not be stable on the camera or operate properly. It may not be immediately obvious how to fix it. This video shows you how to do it with a couple of flat screwdriver tips and a tiny PH000 Phillips head screwdriver. (They often sell these in sets of five or seven.) The trick is to lift up on the clip so that the front lip clears its catch and it can slide back. You may need to lift it over the screws as well if they’re really lose.

(Yes, that’s a Spider Man bandage. I have an excuse; I’m a daddy.)

Here’s a hot wire foam cutter that I made from scraps, following a general design I saw in Make magazine a couple years ago. I picked up 20 feet of 30-gauge nichrome (nickel chromium) wire on ebay for $2.09, shipping included, and the rest of the stuff I happened to have on hand. Aside from the wire, I used a 12V power supply [see power details below] that I got from Radio Shack decades ago, a bit of peg board, some scraps of pine, a few nails, a foot or so of standard household electrical wire, and a steel rod.

Hot Wire Cutter

Hot Wire Cutter

I used the ground wire to fasten the cable tightly against the rail.

Hot Wire Cutter, Side View

Hot Wire Cutter, Side View

From the bottom, you can see how the ground wire loops around, and how the nichrome wire is attached.

Hot Wire Cutter, Bottom View

Hot Wire Cutter, Bottom View

Here’s a name that I carved out of foam. I tried using carbon paper to transfer a printout to the styrofoam, but that wasn’t very effective. Instead I mostly followed the little dent made by the pencil as I tried to trace.

A Name Cut out of Styrofoam

A Name Cut out of Styrofoam

Power Details

I originally used a 12V power supply because that’s what I had on hand, and it didn’t look like it would pull enough current to melt the wire. At about 2 amps, though, it made the wire glow, and I knew that was more than enough heat for the styrofoam. So I decided to reuse an old camcorder power supply that was rated at 7.5V/1.6A. With this power supply, the contraption ended up drawing 1.1A and the wire was at a more “Goldilocks” temperature — not to hot and not too cold. It slows down the cutting a bit, but I think it also makes it more controllable.


Here are some great resources I found. I wish I’d found these before I started!

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