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Modular Room Divider and Bench

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Define an entry and create a mini mudroom with a partition and bench. The room divider, made from simple boxes, serves up see-through storage for added openness.

Modular room divider.

Project Overview

Skill Level

Intermediate

Estimated Time

1-2 weeks

Estimated Cost

$$$$$$

Tools & Materials

Tools

  • Circular saw and straightedge
  • Miter saw or handsaw and miter box
  • Framing square
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Cordless drill with driver bit
  • Countersink
  • Right-angle drill attachment
  • 1/8-in drill bit
  • Pocket-hole jig
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Fine-grit sanding sponges
  • Painter’s tape
  • Putty knife
  • Hollow-wall anchors

Materials

  • See Project Diagram for lumber required
  • #8 x 1-1/4-in flathead wood screws
  • #8 x 1-1/2-in flathead wood screws
  • #8 x 1-1/4-in panhead sheet-metal screws
  • 1-1/4-in pocket-hole screws
  • Wood filler
  • Wood glue
  • Velcro 15-ft x 3/4-in sticky-back Velcro strips, #20027
  • Valspar paint, Bistro White, #7006-4
  • Rust-Oleum dark walnut stain, #458337
  • Rust-Oleum satin polyurethane

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

Missing anything? Shop Online

Instructions

Each component of the project described below can be mixed and matched with the others, so start by selecting which ones you want to build (Project Diagram, Drawing 1) and buying only the materials you’ll need (Project Diagram, Cutting Diagram).

Make the Base

Step 1

From 3/4-inch-thick oak and poplar boards, cut the base rails (A), side rails (B), leg fronts (C), leg sides (D), and base cleats (E) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram). Prior to any assembly, sand the parts with 120-grit sandpaper.

Step 2

Drill countersunk pilot holes for the flathead wood screws. Then glue and screw the side rails to the base rail ends (Project Diagram, Drawing 2) to make a base frame.

Step 3

Assemble the four legs from a leg front that is 3-1/2 inches wide and a leg side that is 2-1/2 inches wide. The resulting component faces will have nearly the same width.

Step 4

Add the legs to the base frame.

Glue and screw the leg assemblies to each corner of the base frame by drilling 1/8-inch pilot holes and driving the panhead screws through the base and side rails from the inside. When complete, the legs cover the screws you used to assemble the base frame.

Step 5

Glue and clamp base cleats to the base frame.

Apply glue to one edge of a base cleat (E) and, starting at one end, clamp it to the base rail (A) with the top of the cleat even with the top edge of the base rail. Repeat for the second base cleat. Repeat for the second base.

Build the Bottom Case

Step 1

Using a circular saw and straightedge, cut the MDF sheets to make the eight top/bottom panels (F) and eight case dividers (G) (Project Diagram, Cutting Diagram).

Good to Know

If you choose, this project can be made from plywood by adding veneer edging to the exposed edges in lieu of the MDF. Before assembly of the cases, apply veneer tape to the exposed edges of the panels you will see after the project is complete.

Step 2

Glue and screw the ends to the top/bottom panel.

Place a bottom/top panel on top of two end dividers with the center supported by loosely positioned middle dividers. Drill countersunk pilot holes through the top/bottom into the two end dividers. Then glue and screw the ends to the top/bottom.

Good to Know

For a #8 screw you might use a 1/8-inch pilot hole in solid wood, for MDF, a slightly larger 5/32-inch diameter pilot-hole will help prevent splitting the material when driving screws.

Step 3

Use a square to assure the dividers are installed properly.

Turn the bottom/end assembly on its back and mark the locations for the two dividers. Use a framing square to align a divider square with the back. Glue and screw the divider to the bottom/end assembly. Repeat for the second divider.

Step 4

Clamp the backs in place.

Cut the case backs (H) to fit between the dividers. Apply glue to the ends and bottom edge, and clamp with the backs inset 1/4 inch from the back ends of the dividers and edge of the case.

Step 5

Apply glue to the top edges of the dividers and back and position the top on the case. Drill pilot holes and screw the top in place. Repeat for the second bottom case.

Assemble the Middle Cases, Top Cases, and Tops

Step 1

Retrieve the bottom/tops (F) you cut earlier and then cut the tall case dividers (I), and tall backs (J) to size (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram) for the middle case (Project Diagram, Drawing 4) and the top case (Project Diagram, Drawing 5).

Step 2

Assemble the case components using the same steps you followed for the bottom cases. Note that these two cases have a back inside the middle opening only.

Step 3

Cut the middle shelf (K) and the side shelves (L) to size. Cut 7-3/8-inch-tall spacers to rest the shelves on during the assembly.

Step 4

Rest the shelves on spacers to keep the shelves flat during the assembly.

Drill countersunk pilot holes through the dividers into the shelves. Drive the screws to secure the shelves and remove the spacers.

Step 5

Cut the tops (M) to size. Sand all the edges of the cases and the tops to ease any sharp edges.

Assemble the Room Divider

Step 1

Secure the back details using glue and short nails.

To build a freestanding bench, center the base on the bottom case. Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes and drive screws through the base cleats (E) into the bottoms (F) (Project Diagram, Drawing 6).

Step 2

Flip the base/case over and drill pilot holes through the top. Insert a countersink bit in a right-angle drill attachment and countersink the holes inside the bench using the pilot holes as a guide.

Good to Know

For a drawer to slide smoothly inside the box, countersinking the screw heads is a must. In a short cabinet like this, a right angle drill attachment lets you work in tight spaces.

Step 3

If the bench is freestanding, center the top on the case. If the bench will be used with the divider tower, slide the top forward so the back edge of the top and the back of the lower case are even. Switch to a driver bit in the right-angle drill attachment and screw the top to the case.

Step 4

For the room divider (Project Diagram, Drawing 7), repeat the process of attaching the base to the bottom case. Then center the remaining cases on top of each other with the edges and ends aligned. Starting with the bottom case, drive screws upward into the middle case. Then do the same to screw the middle and top cases together. Screw up from the top case into the top to complete the divider case.

Build the Drawers

Step 1

Cut the drawer bottoms (N) from MDF and the drawer sides (O) and drawer backs (P) from poplar (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram).

Good to Know

The cabinet requires the construction of two types of drawers, a standard drawer (Project Diagram, Drawing 8) and a pass-through drawer (Project Diagram, Drawing 10). The pass-through drawers require two drawer faces (Project Diagram, Drawing 9), while the standard drawer requires a different front and back.

Step 2

Drill the pocket holes in the drawer sides.

Drill pocket holes on each end of the drawer sides. Glue and clamp the sides to the edges of the drawer bottom.

Step 3

Mark the drawer-pull opening in the fronts.

Cut the drawer faces (Q) (Project Diagram, Drawing 9) from oak. Mark the center of one edge and use a compass to draw the arches for the cutouts.

Step 4

Jigsaw the drawer-pull openings.

Cut the drawer pull openings with a jigsaw and sand smooth.

Good to Know

A drawer pull could be used in lieu of the cutouts.

Step 5

Secure the front and back of the drawers with pocket-hole screws.

Glue and clamp each drawer front and back to a side/bottom assembly. Drive pocket-hole screws to join the parts, remove the clamps, and sand the drawers.

Step 6

Build the pass-through drawers in the same manner as the lower drawers, using the wider bottoms (R) and the longer sides (S) (Project Diagram, Drawing 10). Pass-through drawers, however, require an oak drawer face with a cutout at both the front and the back.

Finish and Install

Step 1

Disassemble the tops and cases from each other and the bases. Mix equal amounts of wood glue and water, and brush this sizing on all exposed MDF edges to seal them. Fill any visible screw holes that were made for installing the shelves in the middle and upper case with wood filler using a putty knife.

Good to Know

To save time when painting, the bottom and top surfaces of each case do not need to be painted, this also goes for most of the bottom face of the top panels (M). These surfaces are concealed when the project is assembled.

Step 2

Lightly sand wood filler and the areas treated with sizing using a fine-grit sanding sponge. Apply primer to all of the MDF surfaces, let dry, and sand lightly.

Step 3

Apply two coats of paint to the primed surfaces in the color of your choice (Bistro White shown).

Good to Know

An optional highlight is to mask the back panels and paint them a complementary color to add a splash of fun.

Step 4

For the bases and the drawers, apply a coat of stain following the manufacturer’s instructions. Very dark finishes may require two coats of stain. After the stain has dried, add two coats of satin polyurethane the drawers.

Good to Know

When staining the drawers, we left the sides and the inside surfaces natural and only stained the front surfaces.

Step 5

When the paint and finishes have cured, reassemble the project. To help the drawers slide easier in the cases, apply the Velcro to the bottom edges of the sides (O) using the softer loop portion of the Velcro. Slip the drawers in the divider.

More than a room divider, this project has room to sit plus large, deep display spaces and drawers. --Lowe’s Creative Ideas

More than a divider, this project provides a place to sit while removing and storing shoes. The tall portion offers large, deep display spaces plus drawers for knickknacks.