How to Build a Simple Bench
If you love outdoor seating, a few hours and some basic tools and materials can help you build a bench that's attractive in any backyard or patio setting. Here are two DIY bench project ideas, one from Black Decker and one from Minwax, that are perfect for beginners. Gather a few materials, carve out an afternoon and get going. Then, use your creative judgment to make them look appealing in your garden. Get Started Start with an 8-foot-long piece of 4x4 lumber.
If you love outdoor seating, a few hours and some basic tools and materials can help you build a bench that's attractive in any backyard or patio setting. Here are two DIY bench project ideas, one from Black & Decker and one from Minwax, that are perfect for beginners. Gather a few materials, carve out an afternoon and get going. Then, use your creative judgment to make them look appealing in your garden.
- Start with an 8-foot-long piece of 4x4 lumber. Black & Decker suggests using untreated pine lumber for the entire project. Use a circular saw to cut four legs, each 18 inches long. Set the legs aside.
- Then, use the saw to cut the lumber for the frame box. This is to support the bench seat. Start with two 8-foot pieces of 1x4 untreated pine. Use these 1x4s to make the long framing pieces for the frame box. Cut two pieces 48 inches long. Then, cut two frame ends, each 9 1/2 inches long. Follow this with two frame center struts, also 9 1/2 inches long.
- Make sure you have about 50 2-inch wood screws.
- A frame box makes the bench extra sturdy. You're going to make a rectangular-shaped frame using the 1x4 lumber pieces.
- Join the 1x4s together into the frame using your drill and 2-inch wood screws. Line up two 1x4s, each 9 1/2 inches long, even with the ends of the two 48-inch 1x4 pieces. This will help you create the rectangle frame. Use your 2-inch wood screws to attach each of the end pieces. You'll have four screws on each end, one in each corner.
- Attach the remaining two 9 1/2-inch wood pieces evenly inside the frame. Do this by using your wood screws on each side to attach them to the inside of the frame.
- Now you can make the top of the bench. Using a piece of 1x12 untreated pine lumber, 48 inches long, it will sit flush on top of the frame.
- Secure the seat with the 2-inch wood screws, around the edge and along the center struts.
- Here's where you attach the four 18-inch 4x4 posts to the seat. Drive four 2-inch wood screws into each of the four leg posts, through the frame's exterior. Then your legs will be attached, and your bench will be ready for the finishing touches.
- Fill any screw holes with wood filler and sand the surface thoroughly, first with medium-grit sandpaper, then with fine-grit sandpaper.
- Use a cloth to remove sawdust.
- Apply a coat of oil if you're going for a natural look.
- Apply a stain or paint if you prefer a look that's something other than natural wood.
- Apply a waterproof sealer. Make sure you waterproof each entire leg. The leg bottoms are most likely to be exposed to standing water.
If the above bench is bigger than you need, try Minwax's beginner-friendly bench or step stool.
Gather the Wood
- A 7-by-3/4-inch piece of ash or white oak, 16 inches long.
- A 3/4-inch-by-1 1/2-inch piece of ash or white oak, 24 inches long.
- An 8-by-3/4-inch piece of ash or white oak, 14 inches long.
Cut and Assemble
- The 8-by-3/4-inch piece is your bench top. Cut each corner at a 45-degree angle with a jigsaw approximately 1 inch. This gives it a nice, angled edge.
- Use the 7-by-3/4-inch piece as your bench sides. Cut the 16-inch piece exactly in half with your jigsaw. To give the sides a nice angle, measure 6 inches at the top and 7 inches at the bottom. Draw lines before cutting to make sure you get the sides even.
- If you want to get creative, you can design a rounded cutout for the side panels, but this isn't required.
- Use the 3/4-inch-by-1 1/2-inch piece as the cross braces. Cut the long 24-inch side in half. Cut 5/8-inch-long notches in each side, 1 1/2 inches wide. The side panels will fit into these notches.
- Glue the side pieces to the cross braces.
- Drill holes to attach the cross bases and side pieces to the top. Use pocket screws, centered on the side pieces and the cross bases.
- Sand all the edges smooth, starting with medium-grit sandpaper, finishing with fine-grit sandpaper.
- Stain and finish according to your taste.
If you want to decorate your new bench, add brass corners or brackets, according to Black & Decker. Then, put some potted plants on it when it's not in use, and simply remove them when you need extra seating. Black & Decker also suggests moving the bench inside in cold weather. It makes a great place to sit and put on winter boots.
Karen Gardner is a freelance writer and editor based in Maryland. She has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing health, home and gardening stories.