Icebox Window Seat

Multi-functional companion for the dining room.

LOCATION: Hartford, CT

    Some of you may recall that two years ago, I made a sideboard for my wife designed to match a reproduction oak icebox. (The sideboard, along with the original icebox, can be seen in Shop Shot #175 at At her request, I’ve just finished another piece for the dining room, again duplicating the style of the original icebox.
    This time, the piece would replace an old steamer trunk that sat in front of a pair of windows on the opposite side of the dining room from the sideboard. The trunk, which has been in front of those windows for nearly 18 years, has served two purposes – we used it as a window seat to watch the abundant wildlife in the brook that flows behind our house, and as a catch-all for placemats, cloth napkins, phone books and the like.
Icebox Window Seat

    At 48”, the new seat would be about a foot longer than the old trunk, and would incorporate a pair of end compartments and center drawers to better organize the contents. My original drawing had the unit as a basic cabinet, sort of a shorter version of the sideboard. However, since the face frame of the original icebox I was duplicating had a 4” piece along the top of the face, it occurred to me that the resulting waste space above the top drawer and the side compartments could be put to better use. I decided to make the top into a lid, and installed a piece of oak-veneered plywood underneath, even with the top of the side compartments and top drawer, creating a 3-1/2” deep recess that was perfect for placemats.
    Because the piece needed to regularly withstand the weight of people constantly sitting on it -- and standing on it at least once a week to water the plant that hangs above it -- it had to be very strong. So, although it visually matches the frame-and-panel construction of the original icebox, the ends are actually solid. I started with 3/4” oak-veneer plywood, then added 1/4”-thick strips of oak around the sides to simulate the frame. The inside edges of the strips even have a slight bevel where they rest against the plywood, giving the appearance that the central “panel” is floating. The doors are of regular frame-and-panel construction. The face frame, lid, drawer fronts, and trim are all of solid oak.

    Now, we not only have a sturdy seat, but all our dining room odds and ends are easier to store and get to.

. . . A.J. Hamler



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