DIY: Wood Mudroom Bench

When I shared a couple of weeks ago that we bought thirty common boards for our winter organization project, what did you guess we were making?

If you guessed a bench, you were right!

Our mudroom is a disaster of boots, shoes, backpacks, coats, gloves, hats and well, you get the point…

Walking in there, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed – the ‘stuff’ just doesn’t have a place to go. Shoes, coats and bags get shoved into the closet only to pour back out. Or, it all just gets left all over the floor (mostly that). None of us can quickly find what we need before to get out the door.

It is long past time for an organization solution.

The long term project will be a bench and lockers. But step one is the bench.

I love the look of a butcher block bench but its so expensive – especially 8 feet of it, so we can do 5 cubbies beneath and 5 lockers above.

I am grateful my adventurous husband agreed to help me make our own bench using common boards. It won’t be as flawless of butcher block, but I was confident hoped it would be lovely. In full disclosure, I desperately need his help (aka. tell me what to do) because although eager to learn, I’m just not experienced or savvy in this area.

The first post detailed the supplies used, purchased and borrowed, so today I’ll just share a bit of the process and where we are so far.

First, we picked the 27 best of those 30 common boards – pretty much every board was warped, had a big chip out of it, or had big knots. It’s good we want a perfectly imperfect benchthis will have character whether we like it or not.

We lined the boards up and arranged them so the wood grain on each board is oppasite the next. My husband trimmed each 9 foot common board to 8 feet.DIY: Mudroom Storage Bench Update | thisgratefulmama.com

Wood glue was used to secure the boards together – half the first night, then the rest the second. We used 4 clamps to squeeze them together for 24 hours. When the clamps are secured, lots of glue dripped out on the plastic table cloth – I’m glad we protected the table or it would have been a mess! clamps-collage

With the boards glued, it was even more evident just how not-straight common boards are. Even with effort to keep them lined up while gluing. Smoothing would take forever with a belt sander. What we really wanted was access to a large wood planer but we didn’t know anyone with the equipment. So, my husband suggested we try hand planing.

Hand planing is kind of fun, although my husband may not agree (he admittedly did more than me). It isn’t exactly a quick process, and requires persistence and elbow grease. We took turns – when one got tired the other took over. It took a couple of evenings after the kids went to bed to get it fairly even. We (read: my husband, with me on kid duty) sanded the boards using a belt sander. The change was amazing – honestly, the before and after pictures don’t do it justice.

So smooth.DIY: Mudroom Storage Bench Update | thisgratefulmama.com

Wood was sanded one last time using a palm-sander before using a pre-stain wood conditioner.  MinWax Espresso stain was applied using a stain pad. In the past I used a brush, but would consider using a stain pad again – less mess and even coverage. We allowed the stain to sit 1o minutes before wiping it off. We did reapply one time to try to darken the color but it didn’t add much. We used grubby old t-shirts to wipe the stain off and let it dry overnight before sealing it.

This bench is going to be used in the mudroom. We live in Minnesota – winter gear will be wet and snowy when it gets hung up, especially by the kids. We want this wood bench to be long-lasting and not be damaged by water. That is why we used Helmsman Spar Urethane to seal it – it is for indoor/outdoor use and is tough enough to endure heavy traffic and moisture.

Spar Urethane requires two coats, with a light sanding between coats. Surprisingly, the odor was less intense than expected. When I used the spray-version of Spar Urethane to seal the DIY Outdoor Vertical Stencil-Painted ‘Believe’ and ‘Grateful’ Sign, the aerosol spar urethane odor was much stronger. I think I may only use the brush-on version going forward.

Here is the top of the bench, stained and sealed with a satin finish.DIY Wood Mudroom Bench | thisgratefulmama.com

Isn’t she pretty?

This project is already so gratifying, even though it took quite a bit of elbow grease. And it was even better to make it with my husband – a gift to work on something together. It will be sweet knowing we made something for our family will actually use and enjoy for years to come.

Next we’ll build cubbies underneath for shoes and boots before adding lockers for backpacks and coats.

Until then…

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22 Practical DO’s And DON’Ts To Show Love On Valentine’s Day {and Every Day}

Valentine’s Day is not my thing. While I will never poo poo a chance to go on a date with my husband, I could care less about going on February 14th, when the restaurants are packed. I’…

Source: 22 Practical DO’s And DON’Ts To Show Love On Valentine’s Day {and Every Day}

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child With Food Allergies – Thank You For Keeping Our Kids Safe Even When You Don’t Understand Allergies

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child With Food Allergies - Thank You For Keeping Our Kids Safe Even When You Don't Understand Allergies

During a recent grocery store trip, I overheard a fellow mom on her cell phone. She was asking what on earth to buy in the bakery section for her child’s class room birthday treat. It needed to be peanut free.

She went on to say she didn’t understand why, if peanut wasn’t on the label, she couldn’t buy it. Then she mumbled something about the equipment.

I could tell she was in a hurry. Intending to point her in the right direction, I made my way to the display of Lofthouse Nut-Free frosted cookies. I planned to hold them up and just point to the ‘Nut-Free’ label. I didn’t want to interrupt her conversation but knew it can be hard to find a peanut-safe option in the bakery section – especially if you aren’t sure what to look for on the label. It would be easy to unknowingly buy a treat that isn’t safe.

Or maybe just give up.

As I walked up, she released a loud sigh of frustration and exclaimed into the phone, Why can’t those kids just be normal so I can buy a box of cupcakes“. 

Sigh. Normal? Ugh.

Now what?

I felt my face flush. What ran through my head was to educate her – you know, with strong, emotion-filled, angry words. 

But I could see that type of ‘education’ would not do either of us much good. She was already frustrated, and heaping my anger on top of her anger isn’t likely to produce much understanding.

I’m also not real keen on starting an argument in the bakery section of the grocery store. With my kids.

Plus, here she was, trying to read the labels, and trying to pick something all the kids could enjoy. Despite what she said, her actions were those of someone trying to do the right thing. 

She just didn’t understand why.

She didn’t need anger, she needed grace. So instead of marching up with a lengthy defense of children with food allergies, I walked up, smiled, and pointed at the Nut-Free label. She looked, paused and looked up at me.

Relief. Gratitude.

She told her friend ‘just a minute’ and put her hand over the phone. She whispered ‘Thank you. I have no idea how to make sure what I buy is right or not. Last time it wasn’t. They wouldn’t serve it in class and my daughter didn’t have a treat for her birthday‘.

Wow.

As a food allergy mom, I know all-too-well the disappointment when my child can’t have a treat. This might be the first time I realized it also happens to children without food allergies.

I see how this could cause frustration in parents whose children don’t have an allergy.

Sometimes, as an allergy mom, I just wish other parents could put themselves in my shoes – maybe they’d finally understand what its like.

This time, I put myself in her shoes. There was a time when I knew very little about food allergies and food allergy labeling – before I became an Epi-Pen carrying mom and had to take a crash course in keeping our own child safe. If I had gone to the store with good intentions, it would frustrate me if I still bought the wrong thing. Food labeling even confuses food allergy parents sometimes. If I tried to buy something safe for all the children, I’d be so hurt to hear they didn’t serve it because it still wasn’t safe.

Yeah, that would make me pretty upset. And it would make me easily frustrated the next time I’m in a store, again, trying to do the right thing. Especially if I’m still not sure what to actually buy.

So, as she looked up at me, I smiled back and nodded. I whispered that the frosted Lofthouse cookies that say Nut-Free are always a safe option.

And then I said, Thank you for doing your best to keep children like mine safe.

She smiled back, and then looked slightly embarrassed, probably realizing I overheard her comment. But I chose to give her an encouraging smile, a little wave, and move on.

This encounter wasn’t about me. Or my child. It was about simply doing something small to educate another mom who was actively seeking a way to keep other children safe while giving her child a special birthday. Now she knows a safe option for the future. And she has been thanked by one allergy mom for her efforts.

Are you one of the parents out there who try their best to keep all the kids safe?

Thank you, to each of you, who don’t understand food allergies, but try to buy safe options anyway.

Thank you for trying to learn about food labeling, and for asking questions about what to buy. If you ever have questions about what to buy (or why it matters), I’m happy to help.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to make your best effort with good intentions.

I’m sorry when those good intentions have not been rewarded. Please know they are appreciated nonetheless. 

Thank you for doing your best to keep all of our kids safe. We will happily do the same for you in whatever challenge your child or family may face now and in the future.

As I’ve shared before, it truly does take a village to raise a child with food allergies.

Thank you for doing your best – from this grateful mama to you.