How to Build a Window Seat

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
Well I'm in a travelling mood again. So I'm going to pay  a visit to Laurie and Greg Miller in Arvata, Colorado to see if I can lend them a hand with their project.

Now they decided to turn a small window ledge in the dining room into a cozy window seat and if it turns out the way I imagine it, it should make a great spot to curl up and read a good book.  Hey, you must be Greg.
GREG:
Yes, Ron, welcome.
LAURIE:
Hi.
RON HAZELTON:
Laurie, you got that straight -
LAURIE:
Yes, you did. Pleasure to meet you. Welcome to our home.
RON HAZELTON:
Thanks. Can I go inside and take a look at the project.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]

LAURIE:
Absolutely.  Please.
GREG:
Come on in.
LAURIE:
Ron, this is our project area here, if you want to take a look.  You can see we already have a window seat built in. But have a seat. It's very narrow. Not quite comfy -
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]

RON HAZELTON:
Not quite enough to really relax and be comfortable.
LAURIE:
Everybody gravitates to this area.  No matter how many - open seats we have.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
RON HAZELTON:
It looks cozy.
LAURIE:
It is. Sure. So as long as everybody's going to come to this area, I figure let's make it comfy, cozy.
RON HAZELTON:
So what did you have in mind?
GREG:
Well Ron, what we'd like to do is take it out a little bit wider, a little bit more functional.
RON HAZELTON:
Okay. And you want to use the space that's inside.
LAURIE:
Absolutely.
RON HAZELTON:
Good.  Here's what I'd like to do then.  Let's start by taking off some of this woodwork down here.  Some of this trim. And then I want to make some measurements.  And we'll go out in the garage after that and start cutting some wood.
LAURIE:
That sounds great.
RON HAZELTON:
We start by using a small pry bar to remove the shoe molding. The putty knife protects the baseboard from dents.  Then Greg cuts through the caulking at the top of the baseboard. This will keep us from tearing the wallboard as we pry off the woodwork.

The trim on the edge of the existing seat and the wooden corner molding come off next. Finally Greg and Laurie lean into their pry bars and muscle off 2 layers of plywood from the old window seat.  We remove a few remaining nails. And now it's time for some precision measuring.
GREG:
All right, we have 12 and a half plus one line.
LAURIE:
One little line. Got it.
RON HAZELTON:
I've taken your dimensions and made a little sketch of them right here. This is kind of what the window box is going to look like.  The first thing that we want to do is to cut this piece right here. That's the one that's going to slip onto that ledge underneath the window.

We're going to cut our window seat out of 4 by 8 foot sheets of birch veneer plywood.  This 8 foot aluminum straight edge will allow us to make cuts with the accuracy of a table saw. We first measure and mark the width of our panel. Then use the built in clamp to secure the straight edge in place.

We've placed the plywood on parallel strips of lumber leaving a space underneath.  The saw blade is adjusted so that it cuts through the plywood but not into the work surface below.  Now it's time to start cutting. 
[MUSIC]
Now you can see what happened here is that these spacers here and here and the other two kept this cut from moving - nothing moved around. Everything gets supported and nothing binds the blade - nor do you have to hold onto anything.
RON HAZELTON:
Now we can begin to assemble the base of the window seat. First we apply a bead of glue to the edge of an end panel.  Perfect.
[BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
I'm going to put this up here and this in position. Now Laurie, if you can hold that right there -I'm going to put a clamp on the bottom just to kind of hold things to keep them from moving around here.  all right, now we're going to nail this together.  We could use a hammer nail but I'm a real fan of the nail gun here. Very simple to use.  Just want you to put it up here like this, press it up against  the wood. You see how this moves, this right here. Make sure it's straight.

This is in alignment with the side back here. And pull the trigger.  So let's do it.  Put one of those about every 2 or 3 inches.
LAURIE:
That's all there is to it huh?
RON HAZELTON:
Laurie is a quick study and she and Greg move ahead, assembling the rest of the base.  A brace across the center will help support the top.
LAURIE:
Okay, I think that's good.
RON HAZELTON:
Next, we mix up a batch of polyester resin. This is car body filler. And we apply it to the exposed plywood edges.  The advantage of this material is that it dries very fast.  And it will allow us to go right ahead and start out painting.

We’ll make the top from a single piece of plywood to which we'll add strips of molding. Using the power miter box, Laurie makes 45 degree cuts on the ends of the molding. Again we'll apply glue to the edge of the plywood. Go as far as you can.

You can finish it up or hand it off to Greg.  Okay, Greg this is that piece of casing.  Just put this right on top.  Now I want to slide it down so that the inside of that miter is right at the edge of that wood.  Let me know when you're there.
GREG:
I think I'm there.
RON HAZELTON:
Right there, okay. This is a smaller nail gun called a pin nailer.  The fine brads used by the pin nailer will keep the molding from splitting.  Once the front molding is in place, we apply glue to the end pieces and the miter.  Slip it into position and nail it. Well we finished building our window seat, now it's time to give it a coat of paint.

LAURIE:
I see it coming together.
RON HAZELTON:
The first step in installing the window seat is to replace the old plywood that we took out earlier, with a new piece.

So this is going to cover up the, cover up the ledge, cover up and replace that piece that you took out.  Now let's get the window seat itself.  Okay, Greg, slide it right underneath just like that.

The base is attached by first drilling clearance holes through the back, then driving screws into the wall studs.  There's a gap right here between the front here on the floor. To fill that, we're going to slide in a shim to make sure that this is resting on the floor.  This is a piano hinge.  It's a continuous hinge that runs the full length of the top here.

So let's - set this in place.  Hold it right in there.  Move it down -
LAURIE:
Want me to try this out.
RON HAZELTON:
Try it out.
LAURIE:
Okay.  it works.
GREG:
Look at that, like a glove.
LAURIE:
Perfect.
RON HAZELTON:
We're getting close to the end now as we reinstall the trim at the corners. 
[SOUND OF NAIL GUN]

And around the base.  The last piece huh?  Nice fit.
LAURIE:
This is great.  Okay, here we go.
RON HAZELTON:
With the last piece of molding in place, I get to sit down on the job.  Well at least for a moment. Well I'm going to hit the road.

LAURIE:
Okay.
RON HAZELTON:
So enjoy this.
LAURIE:
Well thank you, it's been a pleasure.
GREG:
Thank you so much.
LAURIE:
Okay, take care.
RON HAZELTON:
You know there's nothing I like more than comparing a before picture - with the end results.
LAURIE:
We're going to get good use out of this.

GREG:
No doubt.

A New Window Seat can Increase the Space in your Home

A window seat can be the focal point of a room when you are entertaining guests. In this project, Ron's new friends have just such a window seat in their home, but it's a bit to narrow to really be comfortable. Follow along as Ron works with them to create a new window seat that is comfortable, functional, and looks great.

Remove the Trim
Step 1

Remove the Trim

Remove the existing trim along the wall so that you can get an accurate measurement, and so that the base fits snugly against the wall once you built it. Take extra caution with the floor moldings, as you will want to re-install them. Use a putty knife behind your pry bar to prevent damage to the surface behind the molding. Also, you'll want to make sure you have cut through any caulk with a utility knife. This ensure that the wall board won't tear when you pull the molding away.

Cut Out the Pieces for the Window Seat
Step 2

Cut Out the Pieces for the Window Seat

Using the measurements that you take after removing the trim, create a simple sketch of your seat. Once you have determined the proper sizes, you are ready to begin cutting out the pieces. Ron is using an aluminum straight edge to help cut the 4x8 pieces of plywood, and had adjusted the saw blade depth to just cut through the plywood and not into the work surface below it.

Assemble the Base
Step 3

Assemble the Base

Begin by applying a bead of glue to the edge of an end panel. After clamping, secure the glued joint with a finish nailer. If your seat is fairly long, a brace across the center will give a little bit of extra support for the top.

Seal the Edges
Step 4

Seal the Edges

Apply car body filler to the exposed plywood edges. This will seal the rough edges, giving you a flat surface to paint. Car body filler is a great product for this step because it dries quickly and is easily sanded smooth. You will be able to move on to your painting quickly and your project won't be held back while waiting for other fillers to dry.

Make the Window Seat Top
Step 5

Make the Window Seat Top

Use another piece of plywood to make the solid top. Once the top has been cut to the proper size, use door and window molding to create a frame for it. This is most easily cut using a power miter box. Just cut 45 degree angles at the corners, and then fit the pieces together around the outside of the plywood. Secure them using glue and a pin nailer. The seat is now ready for paint.

Install the Base to the Wall
Step 6

Install the Base to the Wall

The first step in installation is to replace the plywood that was removed from the sill with a new piece. Next, the base that you built needs to be fastened to the wall. Drill holes through the back, and then secure the base by driving long screws directly into the wall studs. If you have any gaps between the base and the floor, be sure to slide shims into the gaps, so that they seat doesn't rock or wobble.

Install the Top
Step 7

Install the Top

Screw a piano hinge to the top, and then secure the other tab of the hinge to the seat. A piano hinge is great for this application because it runs the full length of the seat, and will be durable under years of wear and tear.

Install the Trim
Step 8

Install the Trim

Now that the seat is in place, it is time to re-install the trim that we removed in step one. Start with the corner trim, and then finish up with the base moldings.