Shoe Bench


When a friend said she was having her 200 year-old home renovated, leaving behind a ginormous pile of old planks and beams in her yard that were either waiting to go to a good home or the fire pit, I couldn’t get to her place fast enough.

I may have been a bit overzealous to go there alone. While some of the planks were light, others would have even been a struggle for an American Ninja Warrior. And once the adrenaline wore off, I started to worry how I’d unload everything on the other end of the trip in my shop.

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“You sure you don’t want any more?” my friend asked. I couldn’t stop staring at the huge beams by the fence. 1. I needed a bigger truck. 2. I needed more muscles, or to bring back reinforcements with muscles.   3. I realized at that moment that I am a wood hoarder.

“I think I’m ok,” I said, mustering up cheer while wistfully eyeing the pile of wood I barely made a dent in.  Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s…barn wood. Sigh.

I happily made my way home with a bed full of planks with rusty nails poking up to the sky.  This is so normal for me that I don’t think twice, unless I’m taking my hoopty piled high with trashy treasures through swanky northern NJ. Then I get looks.

And then. THEN. My sister declared that she was taking down her split rail fence.

“I’ll take it!” I said with glee.

“It’s really old and weathered,” she cautioned.

“Even better.”


She then had to explain to her landscaping crew that I wanted 20 posts and 20 rails saved. “Uh. She knows you need three rails per section, right?” One guy said skeptically to her.

My poor family. I often feel for them as they have to describe what I now do for a living. Especially when they have to field questions from their contractors and crews as they try to salvage scraps for me.

“This is junk.”

“Sorry, not to my sister.”

“Your sister is really…different.”

Once again, the timing was perfect. I had just received an order to make a bench out of split rail fence pieces and planks – something functional that would be a focal point in a front hall and also serve as a hideaway storage place for my customer’s shoes.


There is a removable shoe tray at the bottom and a small opening near the back of the storage area to allow the footwear to breath. A black door latch secures the bench lid while open, and discretely hides behind the bench back when not in use. Black hinges complete the piece.


The barn wood and fence pieces were sanded and stained per the customer’s request in a warm maple. By cutting the fence pieces where there was a natural slope and using those near the back of the bench, the bench back has a comfortable angle to it instead of sitting upright.



The bench is headed to its new home in New Lebanon, NY this week!

Custom benches: prices range depending on size, detail, hardware and type of wood used. (Pallet benches start at $35. Barnwood benches start at the ridiculously low price of $80 and go up from there.)

About Mel

My name is Mel, and I spend my time living, working and playing on the east coast. I'm a reclaimed wood artist who loves to continually find ways to repurpose wood and give it new life. "Nature Calls: Reclaimed Wood Designs" is my business dedicated to doing that! Thanks for stopping by!
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