Our house has a big, beautiful front porch. The front door opens to our living room, which I’d like to think is warm and inviting. However, we rarely use our front door. Even when guests come to stay with us, we typically enter and exit out the back of the house. So, the first and last thing we see (and anyone else sees when they’re joining us) is the mudroom. The room isn’t unattractive when it’s bare, but in the past two years we have lived here it has become a holding room for shoes, dirty gardening tools, empty flowerpots, and grilling tools. While I do still want the space to store some things, I would like it to be less of a messy catchall.
Besides taking out the bench and homemade wood shelves and relocating them, I’m going to need to give the tile grout and baseboards some love. Near the door, the wooden baseboard is rotting from moisture buildup, so I’ll have to replace it. But that’s another day. To replace the storage furniture, I priced hall trees online. My favorites cost hundreds of dollars or more. Most of them are MDF, so set down one growler with some condensation — homebrewers’ wives, raise your hand if you feel me — and now the MDF has cracks and bubbles. Then I thought, can I make one?
Spoiler alert: I made one with my husband. It cost $90 in materials and equipment.
I found a plan by Ana White that uses six 2x4s and two 2x6s. If you’re interested in seeing the whole process, head over to Ana White’s website for a shopping list, cut list, and construction plans. As far as equipment, we used:
- A chop saw to cut 90-degree and 45-degree angles.
- Kreg Pocket Hole Jig. This pocket hole jig isn’t 100% necessary, but it makes a much easier time out of pre-drilling angled holes to connect the 2x4s.
- Power drill. This is a must, since you’ll need the power to get through the wood.
- Orbital sander. Also not required, but some of your boards will inevitably have deep flaws that an electric sander would make an easier time of getting out than sanding by hand. And really, you could not sand at all if you want that raw wood look, but sitting on the bench may leave you with splinters where splinters need not be.
We used 3-inch screws on the whole piece. We pre-drilled every hole, which eliminated wood splintering and cracking. Once the hall tree was together besides the top piece and the angled supports, I went over the whole tree with the orbital sander. After using the orbital, I hand-sanded any flaws that I wanted to get out with a gentler touch. Then, I used Minwax stain in Golden Pecan from another project I did, but I found that after one coat, that particular stain didn’t provide that rich color I was looking for. This photo shows how close one coat of Golden Pecan stain was to the original pine color:
I picked up Varathane wood stain in Early American, and pow! Exactly what I wanted.
The original piece from Ana White left the screw holes exposed on the seat, but I used stainable wood filler to make the holes less visible. I used two coats of Minwax Satin Oil-Based Polyurethane to finish the wood and give it some protection without making it too shiny.
My husband is renovating the shed and found some old hooks, which I cleaned and used across the lower top beam.
This was my shopping list by the end:
- Six 2x4s and two 2x6s ($50)
- Kreg Pocket Hole Jig ($20)
- Box of 3-inch wood screws ($8)
- Varathane Early American wood stain, 1 qt ($7)
- Stainable wood filler ($6)
All in all, I paid about $90 for this project since I already had the power tools and the hooks. Could I have bought an MDF or metal hall tree for around the same price or cheaper? Probably. But being solid wood, this piece has longevity and durability going for it. And I had a ton of fun making it.
My tips after making this DIY hall tree
Pay attention to which side of each board will be visible when you’re finished. Most boards will have a black stamp on one side, and although it can be sanded off if necessary, I tried to face the stamp side down or toward the wall whenever possible.
If you want a smooth finish, don’t skimp on sanding. Getting the raw wood smooth before staining makes a big difference, as does sanding lightly between clear coats. I used a very light hand with sandpaper between clear coats.
Have you made your own entry furniture? Comment below!
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