There are few pieces of furniture as simple and versatile as a bench. They can be used as seating indoors and outside, and also work well as decorative pieces. Benches can be used in dining rooms for seating at the table, in entryways for putting on and taking off shoes, outside for sitting in the garden, or in a living area for extra seating when entertaining.
Best of all, they are inexpensive and simple to make, regardless how you plan to use them.
Design Your Bench
Start by creating a design for your bench. Make decisions about the size, the materials you will use, and your budget.
If your bench is outside, you will need to choose weather-proof materials. You might also need to include tools on your shopping list. Though there are many options, most basic benches are made of wood. You will need three or four two-by-fours cut to the desired length for the seat, and four two-by-fours cut to the desired height for the legs, and two two-by-fours half the size of the legs.
A basic bench has four vertical legs and a horizontal piece of wood for the seating. You can make the seating piece of slab of wood or you can use three separate boards. The solid piece usually has a more rustic appearance and can make the bench heavier. Cut the horizontal board or boards to the length you want. About four feet is a standard length, but benches come in all different sizes. However, if you are planning a super-long bench, you will need to add an extra support leg in the middle to keep the seat from buckling.
Once the bench is the right length cut the legs to the correct height. Average benches are about two to three feet high. The taller the bench, the thicker you should make the legs. This provides extra support and keeps the seating stable. Lay the seating board or boards face-down.
The first option for connecting the legs is to use an L-bracket. This is a metal bracket that is shaped like the letter “L.” It screws into the seating boards and the legs. The benefits of an L-bracket are that it provides sturdy support and you do not see screw holes on the seat of the bench.
The other option for connecting the legs is to screw the legs onto the seating board from the top down. This option is not as sturdy and you will see the screw holes. However, it is quicker and cheaper.
Some people use both an L-bracket and screw attachment for the sturdiest option. If you plan to use your bench for seating on the regular basis, you will want it as sturdy as possible.
Stain or Paint Your Bench
At this point, the bench could be finished. Most people prefer to stain or paint their benches to make them more decorative. Before staining or painting, sand the bench lightly. This makes the paint adhere to the wood and prevents the splintering of the wood.
If you plan to leave your bench outdoors you should choose a weather-resistant stain or paint. In both cases, you can add a soft cushion to the bench for more comfortable seating.