DIY Bench: How To Build a Bench

When You Are The Craftsman...

Asking how to build a DIY bench is a bit of a tricky question. What kind of bench? Building an indoor wooden storage bench is totally different than building an outdoor conrete bench for example. Knowing how to do the one

isn't going to help you

with the other. So when searching for such information, you'd better specify what kind of bench you are looking to build.

This article will give you some general guidelines about DIY benches, some directions what kind of bench you may prefer to build and some ideas where to go further.

General Step-By-Step Guide

Building a DIY bench is not a hard project. It's not like building an outdoor shed or a swing set. Depending of the complexity of the bench and your skills it's going to take from few hours to few days. If it takes you more, you probably shouldn't be building benches but watching your job.

Here are the main steps each DIY bench builder needs to take for almost all kinds of benches:

  • Know what type of bench you want to build. I'm serious. I know "know" is not a real action step but so many enthusiasts just grab the

    first bench plans they find

    and start building before thinking. Do you need an indoor or outdoor one? Are you going to use it for sitting, for storing things or for decoration? Do you want to work with wood or concrete, or do you feel skilled enough to forge steel? You need to answer these questions at the very beginning to avoid wasting time and building materials later.
  • Plan your DIY bench location. Of course it's entirely your business and up to your taste where to place the bench and no,

    you don't need to ask any zoning and building departments,

    fortunately. But there are some factors to consider when choosing the bench location like the entire landscape design, sunny/shady areas, pathways and more. You can read more about the locations and bench types in out introductional article about garden benches
  • Plan the design and find or draw plans. Assuming that you know what bench you'll make, you can now find plans for it. Searching for "wooden storage bench plans" or "potting bench plans" is far better than just looking for "bench plans". There are plenty of sites where you can find free bench plans, for example here and here. Most of them are for wooden benches, so if you want to build a concrete DIY bench you may need to search a bit more. If you prefer to pay few bucks you may get plans with larger scale and more detailed instructions. Designing the bench yourself is also possible - even a program like Abobe Illustrator can do the work if the bench is simple. But do that only if you have some experience - as you may get surprised that it's not so easy to match all parts and sizes.
  • Build it. Normally you will start with the legs, then do the seat and back unless you are building a very special bench. Then you need to sand all pieces to allow easier assembilng by first attaching the legs to the seat and ensuring the bench sits flat. Only after that the back can be attached. Most plans will have steps but if you are designing yourself, keep this sequence in mind.
  • Install it. Many benches don't need installation at all - they are heavy enough and you can just put them somewhere in the garden. If there is no concrete or pavement under the bench you may need to place tiles or pour concrete under the legs - as putting a bench in soft soil may get you closer and closer to the ground each time you sit on it.

Tips and Tricks

DIY Bench
Can you build a bench like this?
Photo by refractionless

The most important part of the DIY bench building process is picking the plans and following the instructions in them (unless you design the bench yourself). But there are some other

smart, popular and not so well known

tricks that can help you build a better bench easier. You guessed right, I'm going to share what I know with you.

  • When building a wooden bench, prefer redwood. It's maintenance free, solid and allows reassembling the bench when needed.
  • Join each piece of wood with two screws to secure the joint - place them at top and bottom
  • Equip yourself with tools: clamps, a router, nails, screws, a jigsaw, a drill, pencils, tape measure, and sheets of paper.
  • When connecting with bolts, use taps to set them firmly. Bolts that are set without taps start demolishing the wood with the time.
  • Bring tape measure when purchasing wood at the store - you must make sure that the wood you are buying has the right size.
  • For most wooden benches using exterior grade deck screws is better than using nails as they are more stable long term.
  • You can build a bench even from an old timber plan and mortar. This is probably the simplest possible backless bench but it's pretty comfortable.
  • Want a bench and a swing at the same time? Build a bench swing! This is a mix of both and isn't hard to build following almost the same logic as described in this article.

Before you start, don't forget the safety measures. Don't rush it - it's more important to have fun and a good DIY bench at the end. If time is very important for you, better buy a ready bench.

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