Easy Garden Bench





Introduction: Easy Garden Bench

After the spring clean-up and 5 yards of new mulch, we realized that we need a garden bench in our front yard, my lovely wife has a very specific location in her mind, and my job is to create the bench in a timely fashion, and the specific look that she's looking for, although she would not describe it.

Step 1: Bench Design Idea

Design is to use material that are available in any home center and create an easy to build garden bench.

We measure all the chairs in the house, and they are about 17" to 18", and that's a fairly comfortable height for us but we have two kids, in that regard, we want to create something they can enjoy as well, so the garden bench would be something at 15"-16" in height.

The rest of the dimension are just the reference, it should be based on the space that the bench will be placed, and the total look of the bench at individual preferences. In our case, it is 48" (L) x 15 1/2" (H) x 18" (W).


Step 2: Material

We will use landscaping timber for the support and ceder 2x4 as bench surface.

(2) x 8' landscaping timber

(3) x8' ceder 2 x 4 lumber

(1) box of 2" deck screw

And a drill, 3/8" drill bit, and some outdoor finish poly for the ceder lumber, as the landscaping timber are pressure treated for outdoor use already.

Step 3: Milling Processes

Cut landscaping timber into 18" long sections. In order to make the identical cuts, I set a stop for my miter saw and ensure the cut length stays the same. One 8' timber should yield (5) pieces plus a little extra, that will be one side of the bench support.

Put (4) of the support pieces side by side and draw five lines on them as pictured. The 5th piece will have to be processed in later step.

Use drill with 3/8" drill bit to drill holes that are off-set to each other as pictured. The holes should be about 1" from the bottom (drill about 1 7/8" into the timber). I used drill press with a depth stop, or a piece of tape on the drill bit can be used to indicate the 1 7/8 drill depth.

Cut ceder 2 x 4 into 48" sections. I use router to cut a champfer on the sides, as it looks more "finished" than just use the ceder as it is with the round over edges.

Step 4: Bench Support Layout

Now go back to the 5th piece of the landscaping timber, which would be the piece that all the ceder top mounted to. Use a piece of cut-off from the ceder top as template, mark two points where you would like to have the screws going to be (go through and screw into the ceder top). Find the center line of the cut-off piece as picture shows and align with the mid point of the support, and transfer those two screw location points to the support piece, and make (2) marks. Those will be the reference points for later on to drill 3/8" holes.

Use a spacer (preferred spacing) to move the template outboard to continue lay out process as pictured. After complete one support piece, transfer all the markings to the other side.

Drill off-set holes as pictured. Again, drill holes 1 7/8" into the piece, leave about 1" at the bottom.

Step 5: Bench Top and Final Assembly

Finish the ceder top first. We left the imperfection and discoloration of all pieces there to show the charactor of nature, they worked out very well.

The key of the assembly process is to think outside the box and build this bench up-side-down, so that none of the screw could be seen.

Pick out the side as the top for all ceder top pieces, and flip they over to start the assembly process. Make sure all the edges align to each other. Use spacers to make sure the even spacing of each ceder piece, and clamp all (5) pieces together.

Use a piece of 1x6 as a guide as shown in the picture, so that the first support is square to the top. When everything looks OK, drive deck screws into each pre-drilled 3/8" holes to connect support with top. Be careful not over drive the screw, as It could go through the top! I put a mark on my drill bit to ensure the right depth.

Use square to align the next piece, and use clamps when ever it's possible. The off-set holes are necessary to ensure that the screw will not end up on top of each other. Plan ahead, everything will fall into the place by itself, the total assembly time was less than an hour.

Bench is completed, and most importantly, our family liked it! So set it in place and enjoy!

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32 Discussions

Made this today with my 8yr old daughter. We added the frame work around the perimiter. I think it gives it a more finished look vs the rustic look. Ball park about 30-45 min to build and less then $65 in material.


How's it holding up without cross bacing

Seems pretty simple and it's beautiful! Yes I'd love to see the pictures of how it's lasted. I want to do this project with my students.

1 reply

The bench still holding up good, lost its color on the top due to the sun beating on it for two year. The legs are still solid, I think I will stain the top a little bit when it's warmer.


How is the bench holding up? Does the wood work alot?

Is it like miles apart now?

1 reply

It's buried under the snow right now.
Structurally still great, but it took a lot of sun light in two years so it lost the color. I think it will need some spring cleaning after this winter is over.
Will upload picture in spring time.

I think another timber under the corner of the legs would help with stability.

Yes. They were just regular 2x4 cedar from the home center.

Awesome project I must say...gotta get me some new red mulch too..I have rocks like those from previous owners..thought of tossing them but with the bench and mulch..they add a nice touch too.

How much did you end up spending on this project?

1 reply

I used some left over from other project, but if you buy everything from home center new, the bench of that size should cost within $30, include fasteners and outdoor poly finish.

This is a very nice looking bench now. I would like to see pictures of it in say 2 years. Landscaping timbers like the ones shown are made of the poorest quality wood and it is almost impossible to find 2 that will sit on top of each other flush and if they do at the time of placement they will inevitably warp in various different directions. I agree with another post that states some type of brace is needed for the legs as any type of shifting of weight is going to cause them to colapse. The top of the bench is beautiful and probably long lasting but the legs I'm sure will not prove the test of time or use. These types of landscaping timbers rot quickly also. They are supposed to be treated but anything that is $3.97 is not treated. There are beautiful preformed blocks that would make a much more stable and long lasting base for the wood that was used for the top.

That looks really good, but you'll want some sort of diagonal bracing for the legs. The slightest lateral movement (like, say, a person sliding over to a new position) and it will collapse.

1 reply

just what I was thinking...but looks great

Very nice! Blends in well with the surroundings.

Thank you for the idea; I will use it. (I will use threaded rod thru the legs though.)

2 replies

I've done similar work with rebar instead of threaded rods Pinksloth. It's cheaper and doesn't bend as easily. But I do think it would make for a sturdier leg. It's really a beautiful piece of work. It reminds me of the great outdoor architecture found in the CCC works in State parks out west in the US

I wish I could have access to lumber in such low price. It is incredible low price.