Designing a Shoe Bench

By Joe Dusel

Hako Shoe Bench (getabako) in Amber Bamboo

Takebako Shoe Storage Bench Rendering  in Amber Bamboo with Black Painted Sides

This is a rendering of our bamboo shoe bench. We start out all of our products with rough sketches, but then we draw the designs in the eCabinet Systems cabinet design software.  This gives us a realistic idea of what the furniture or cabinets will actually look like when we produce it.  The eCabinet Systems software not only gives us nice renderings, it gives us cut lists, nest diagrams and all of our materials costs. The dimensions are based on what we are trying to accomplish. In this case it was to make a shoe bench to store shoes by an entryway.

Here were some of our design criteria:

  • The height must be comfortable for sitting while taking off and putting on shoes.
  • The depth must be great enough to accommodate an average sized mens shoes.
  • The Bench must hold at least 8 pair of shoes.
  • The design should be visually appealing.
  • Only high quality, environmentally friendly materials should be used.
  • The construction should be Ready To Assemble (RTA) to keep shipping costs down.
  • The RTA hardware should be high quality and all metal.
  • The assembly should not be difficult. (My wife assembles these all the time.)
  • The shoe bench should be made to last for generations!

Shoe Bench Prototype in MDF

Once we had the shoe bench designed in the software we decided to have a prototype milled up on a Thermwood CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machine. That is one of the few tools that we don't have in our shop, so we outsource it to another local shop that has one.  These machines are extremely accurate, and that accuracy is definitely required when creating RTA furniture.  What you see in the picture is the shoe bench prototype in MDF. My wife puts up with a lot of these prototypes of various products. This one is in our laundry room. Now, if this MDF had a veneer on it or at least a coat of paint it would be much higher quality that the Chinese junk that you will find all over the web.  Hmmm, maybe I will paint this one.

From this prototype we were able to see how the bench would look in real life. We were able to also see what physically worked, and what didn't and make adjustments.  In our case we made the production units a bit higher and deeper, and we adjusted the placement of the RTA hardware to make the unit easier to assemble.

 So, this is what we finally ended up with. It's a good looking, environmentally and user friendly shoe storage bench that should last for a long, long time.

We have decided to call this our "Takebako" line of shoe benches.  "Takebako", pronounced "tah-kay-bah-ko",  is Japanese for bamboo box. Actually, in Japanese these would be getabako or kutsubako. We love working with bamboo and are planning to make many more of our products out of this terrific eco-friendly material.

Take note that in the picture my daughter's feet are actually resting on the floor. Many of the shoe benches you will find on the web are too high to comfortably tie your shoes! Our benches are about the height of a chair that you might find in your dining room.

We now make these up in small batches of about 6 at a time in both plain versions and also with painted side panels. For more information check out the short article about bamboo plywood  that we wrote.

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Vista, California

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