Today, our friend Ben (an employee at our Normandy Park store) is stopping by to build an entryway organizer he designed for his own home. Ben and his wife have wanted a storage solution for their entryway for a while, but haven’t been able to find one that suits their space.
An avid DIYer, Ben took up the opportunity to create an entryway tree that’s a bit more robust than a traditional coat hanger, but a bit less bulky than a storage bench. His version includes ample storage space at just 3 ½” deep, whereas a typical storage bench is about 12” deep.
Despite its slim size, this entryway tree makes space to stash all the necessities—keys, dog leashes, coats, hats, wallets, and the like. It’s easy to customize by adding (or removing) hooks or adjusting the overall width.
There’s also ample opportunity to stylize this your own way; choose a stain or finish, paint it, or leave it natural. Our version uses pocket hole screws for an industrial look, but you could use any sort of wood screw you like.
Best of all, this project is simple! After cutting our pieces, it only took a couple of hours to build. Ready to get started?
Step 1: Cut back panel
For the back panel of the tree, Ben chose a piece of beaded plywood siding. This kind of plywood panel often has a shiplap edge, so the first thing you’ll need to do is trim off the “lip” of the panel to make a square edge.
Before you pick up the saw, make a straight edge for yourself to cut along. First, mark the amount of board you want to trim off. Then, measure the width of your saw foot from your cut mark. Clamp a straight piece of wood against the panel (one clamp on both ends) so that your saw can glide along the straightedge as you cut.
Once you’ve trimmed your edge, cut your panel to size. We cut ours to roughly 2’ by 4’ with the exact measurements being 23 ½” wide by 47 ⅞’ tall.
Step 2: Cut four sides
Now, cut pieces from your one-by-four to create a frame around the plywood panel.
- Cut the top piece to 26” long. This accounts for the width of the panel, plus the thickness of each side board, plus ½” of overhang on either side for aesthetic. (We cut this top piece to 26", but you could go longer if you'd like a little overhang.)
- Cut two pieces to 47 ⅞” long (same height as the panel). These will form the sides.
- Cut the bottom piece to 25”. This accounts for the width of the panel, plus the thickness of each side board.
- Cut the middle shelf to 23 ½” long (the width of the panel).
Step 3: Join top and sides
Next, we’ll join the top frame piece to the side pieces. Ben originally planned to join these boards together using a Kreg jig, which makes a very sturdy joint, but ended up opting away from that method because he liked the look of the bronze finish screws and didn’t want to hide them in pocket holes. We simply joined each corner of the frame with two screws.
You can choose to join the corners with a Kreg jig or regular screws.
To join with a Kreg jig:
Mark the end of the board with a t-square 1” in from each side. Then, eyeball the placement of the Kreg jig to align with one mark, clamp into place, and drill the pocket hole. Repeat for the other hole at the same end of the board. Clamp down the board with the holes in it, align the other board, and drive #8 x 1 ¼” pocket hole screws into place just until snug. Ben’s advice is to drive screws just until snug, but do not overtighten with the power drill. We’ll do the final tightening with a hand screwdriver.
To join with regular screws:
Join the two side boards to the top with four screws. Ben would use #8 x 1 ¼” pocket hole screws for the look of their domed head and bronze finish. Measure ⅞” in from the ends of the top board and 1” in from the sides of the top board to mark the places for the four screws.
Line up one side board ½” in from the end of the top board, double-check the marks will hit the center of the side board, and drill two 1/16” pilot holes. Then, drive two screws gently into place. Repeat with the other side.
Step 4: Sand
Next, you'll want to spend a good amount of time sanding the surface of your backboards. Since he's using beaded board here, Ben made a point to get into all the crevices with the sanding sponge.
When everything feels sufficiently smooth, you can move to the next step.
Step 5: Slide panel into place and fasten bottom board
You should now have a three-sided u-shaped frame. Lay the “u” you’ve made on a flat work surface and slide your panel into it; it should fit perfectly.
Now, line up the fourth side (the bottom) to complete the rectangular frame. Using the same method as the previous step, mark for screws, pre-drill, and attach with two screws at each end.
Step 6: Rip shelf
The remaining 23 ½” board will create a shelf in the tree.
Because of the plywood backing, the shelf will stick out past the frame, so Ben ripped (or narrowed) the one-by-four board by ⅝” so it would be flush with the perimeter frame.
To do this, mark a line down the length of the board ⅝” in from the edge. Clamp the board and a straightedge in place so that the blade of the circular saw will cut straight down the line, just as we did in step one.
You can choose where you want your shelf to float, but we wanted ours about 6” from the top of the frame. On each side of the panel, measure down 6” (or whatever distance you prefer) from the top of the side board and in 1” to mark your screw holes. Then pre-drill and screw snugly into place.
We’ve now secured the ends of the shelf, but you can make it even more secure by screwing into the shelf from the backside of the panel. To do this, carefully measure from the center of the top frame to the vertical center of the shelf.
Flip the piece around to face the back and take the same measurements to mark where you’ll drill your holes. Mark places for three screws, but don’t drill just yet.
Step 7: Stain or paint (optional)
At this point, we disassembled the project into its separate pieces and stained them using Minwax stain in the color Special Walnut.
Why stain now? We could have stained before this, but waiting until now gives us the benefit of ensuring all the pieces fit together just right. To get the stain in the crevices of the bead board, we poured little pools of stain into the crevice channels and then spread them out evenly with a rag.
Once your paint, stain, or finish is dry, reassemble by putting the screws back into place. Again, to avoid overtightening, use a power drill to install the screws just until the pieces are joined and then do the final tightening with a hand screwdriver.
Step 8: Screw panel into place
The one remaining piece to fasten is the panel. With the frame assembled and the panel framed by it, mark spots about every 8” on the outside of the frame 5/16” up from the back of the frame for placement of the screws. Pre-drill and fasten with screws.
At this point, you can flip the project over and install the three screws through the back into the shelf to make it more secure.
Step 9: Install hooks
Now to add the hooks! Three coat hooks across the panel and a couple of hooks on the outsides of the frame were just the ticket for Ben’s household. He chose an oil-rubbed bronze finish on the hooks that tied in perfectly with the Special Walnut stain and bronze screws.
Consider the various things you might want to hang there (i.e., coats, hats, keyrings, dog leashes, umbrellas) and lay out your hooks before screwing them permanently into place.
Step 10: Mount to wall
There are many ways to mount this project to a wall. Whenever possible, anchor into wall studs. Options to consider are mounting loops attached to the back of the panel to hang on screws or nails, or screwing through the face of the panel into the wall behind.
You can also use picture hanger wire and, if you’re worried about the tree rocking side-to-side on the wall, use 3M Command Adhesive hook-and-loop strips. These won’t support weight but will keep the tree from shifting.
And there you have it! A simple, practical way to declutter your entryway without encroaching on walking space.