How to Build a Deacon Bench

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Things You'll Need

  • ¾-inch plywood
  • Table saw
  • Dado blade
  • Router
  • ½-inch plywood
  • 1-inch hardwood
  • Power drill
  • Wood screws
  • Hinges
  • Wood filler
  • Sandpaper

A deacon bench is a simple, box-shaped bench that is hollow inside to allow for storage. Many people like to place deacon benches in entryways because they provide a place to keep bags, coats and spare shoes and they create a sitting spot. You will need some expertise to create this bench, but working slowly and practicing on scraps of wood will help build your own deacon bench for your home.

Cut the side pieces for the bench out of ¾-inch plywood on a table saw. The sides should be cut to 17 inches long by 15 inches wide.

Make two 14-inch long vertical dado cuts starting from the top edge on one of the side pieces. One cut should be ½ inch to the right of the left-hand edge, and the other cut should be ½ inch to left of the right-hand edge.

Use a dado blade on the table saw to make the dado cuts on the wood. Both cuts should be ¾ inch wide and 1/8 inch deep. Make the same dado cuts on the other side piece in the same way.

Add a third dado cut to each of the side pieces that is ½ inch wide and ¼ inch deep. The cut should be horizontal and placed 13 inches down from the top edge. Use a router to make the third cut on the wood so the dado is 14 inches across and is ½ inch away from the edges of the wood on either side. Do this for both pieces of wood.

Cut out the front and back pieces from the plywood so that both pieces are 14 inches tall and 36 ¾ inches wide.

Route a dado cut that is 36 ¾ inches long on both the front and back pieces. The cuts should be made 13 inches down from the top edges and should be ½ inch wide and ¼ inch deep.

Make the bottom of the bench out of ½-inch thick plywood so it measures 37 ¼ inches wide and 13 1/8 inches tall.

Cut the 1-inch thick hardwood to 2 inches wide and 37 7/8 inches long. This is the brace that will go on top of the bench.

Make the lid of the bench out of ¾-inch plywood so it is 13 inches wide and 37 7/8 inches long.

Fit the bottom piece of the bench into the dado cuts of the front and back pieces. Make sure the pieces are fit tightly together.

Press the side pieces against the bottom, front and back pieces to form the shape of the bench. It will look like a large box without a lid. Attach the side pieces to the other panels with a power drill and wood screws. You should use five screws along the right and left edges of the front and back panels to secure them to the sides.

Set the top brace on top of the bench so it is flush with the back edges and drill it into place with seven evenly spaced screws.

Cut two pieces of 1-inch hardwood so each piece is 11 ½ inches long and attach them to the lid with the drill to act as braces. Place the braces on the lid vertically so their bottoms are along the lower edge of the lid and are each 3 ¼ inches in from either vertical edge.

Turn the lid so the braces are facing down and place it on top of the bench. The end with the braces should be nearer the top brace and the lid should lie flat on the bench.

Place the hinges on top of the lid so one-half of each hinge is on the lid and the other half is on the top brace. The hinges should be evenly spaced, and 3 ¼ inches away from the sides of the bench. Drill the hinges into place with wood screws. Fill these and the other screw heads with wood filler so you can’t see them anymore.

Sand the entire bench and treat it with whatever finish you want. Let it dry thoroughly before letting anyone sit on it or putting anything inside.


  • You can add a support bracket inside the bench to hold the lid open. These brackets can be found at hardware stores.


  • Cut the dados carefully or the bench will not hold together and will fall apart when weight is set on it.