Introduction: One Sheet Plywood Bench

Picture of One Sheet Plywood Bench

This is a cheap way to take 1 sheet of plywood( this one is 1/2" thick) some bottles of gorilla wood glue and a few power tools and
make a cool unique laminated bench.

This is my first instructable so i hope it is up to par, but if not i will work on my technique for the next one.

Might i add the only fasteners used in this project is glue and some wood pegs THAT'S IT.

Well lets get to it.

Step 1: Tools Needed/layout

Picture of Tools Needed/layout

tools you will need:

Table saw or skill saw
tape measure
speed square
  7/8" forsner or spade bit

I think that is all but i will check as this process goes.


For this project your biggest tool is your mind. Take some time to sit down and figure what size you will have to cut everything.
For this particular bench I took a standard sheet of 1/2" plywood and cut it in to 1.75" x 48" strips. The thicker the plywood the wider the strips can be.

You can vary the size based on the width and height of the bench you want to make. Today i will cut portions down to make a bench roughly 36" long by 18" high. On to the hard work

Step 2: Making the Cuts

Picture of Making the Cuts

Once you have your strip width figured out start to cut the sheet into lots and lots of strips. I used a battery powered circular saw which took forever but an electric table saw would probably make it easier.

You can see in the picture and example of the cut strips

Step 3: Get Ready to Glue

Picture of Get Ready to Glue

for this step you will need to have several long clamp readily available as well as 2 or 3 bottles of glue.

start off by separating your strips into two piles of equal amount. This will become a section for the top and a section for the legs.
Once this is done gather you strips and stand them on end so you can see the inside grain. Now you need to lay the first board down and squeeze glue onto the top surface of it. After doing this lay the next board on top and repeat the process do this till you get to the last board and stop!!! Do NOT put glue on the top of the last piece trust me, its messy.

Step 4: Clamp It Up

Picture of Clamp It Up

now that your hands have glue all over them cause your messy like me its time to clamp it up. you can do this any way you want but i like to clamp the ends then the middle and fill it in from there. Make sure these clamps are tight for the glue to really stick everything together.
Remember there are NO screws or bolts holding this together just GLUE

Step 5: Remove Clamps

Picture of Remove Clamps

once your glue has set up for the allotted time stated on the bottle slowly remove the clamps. you will have excess glue all over the the place and the boards may be uneven. 

At this point you can do a few things:

1.)put it through a planer and let it do the work for you
2.)get a hand planer and go to town
3.)sand sand sand until smooth

Once you get to this step pat yourself on the back and do steps 1-5 all over again with the other half of the strips. Keep up the good work.

Step 6: Cut to Size and Drill Holes

Picture of Cut to Size and Drill Holes

okay now that you have done the hard part it is time to cut down the section of laminated strips to the correct size.

Like i said before we will cut one set to 36" long
Now for the other set we need to do some simple math. The thickness of the top is around 1.75" so to get the overall height to 18" we need to take 18 and subtract 1.75, leaving us with 16.25". Proceed to make two legs by cutting two sections of the second set of laminated strips 16.25" long.

The next step is to drill holes for the wooden pegs to go into.

For this project we will use long 7/8" dowels.

Step 7: Sit Down

Picture of Sit Down

congratulations!!!!!!! who have made one awesome looking bench the ladies are going to be tearing down the door.

If you would like you can leave the raw finish but I choose to put a few coats of clear poly on it to bring out the natural wood color and protected the wood from the elements if placed outside. I hope everyone enjoyed this and I look forward to the next project.


nelson5t34 made it! (author)2016-12-17

Thanks for the great idea and example! We made a simple bench with 1/5 of the plywood sheet, then decided to use the remainder of the sheet to make a bench according your design.

This is the result. It is not exactly your design: we made the 'fingers' for both the top and the legs, so these pieces grab into each other. As also suggested by one of the commenters.

It is not 100% perfect and we did use two metal anchors and 4 long screws on the sides, but the result is super strong and robust, no wobbly legs and very stable.

booksmart (author)2016-03-12

Thanks for the project idea I plan on making it as soon as I can and will let you know how it turn out. Thanks

buck2217 (author)2015-06-24

That is really nice looking

Marsh (author)2014-04-30

A stronger way to attach the legs would be to cut every other leg strip 1½" shorter than the others, then shift every other seat strip 1½" left or right. The effect would be a big bridal joint on each end and a single glue up for the entire project. Using a roller or credit card to spread your glue would result in less waste and wiping the excess off with a wet cloth before it dries would mean a lot less sanding. I think I'll make one!

DennisR (author)Marsh2014-08-19

This was my immediate thought as well. Great idea to begin with, but this minor change would make it several times stronger.

rpjamess1 (author)2012-02-24

A trick to use to prevent the laminate boards from bending at all is to alternate the clamps on top and bottom. This provides an even pressure on both sides of the laminate.

Yerboogieman (author)2011-10-16

I have a planer, they are a great addition to any workshop, and much faster than a hand-planer.

shuja.shaher (author)2011-10-11

that means i am sure to go with the design thanks

Brown6041 (author)shuja.shaher2011-10-11

if you want extra security just use longer dowels too.

shuja.shaher (author)Brown60412011-10-12


shuja.shaher (author)2011-10-10

great design
a doubt as usual
are the dowels holding?

Brown6041 (author)shuja.shaher2011-10-10

been a year lots of jumping on it from kids and fat people and hasnt moved at all.!!

MCUman (author)2011-10-09

This is Great project. I would make the following suggestions, though. One good side landing by someone of substance could collapse the legs too easily. May I suggest moving the legs in by 2", cutting a 1/2" deep mortise for them, fill the groove with glue and hold them in place with 3/8"X 6" lag screws with fender washers under the heads in place of the wooden dowels. Place a 2X4 centered between the legs, running the length of the bench to farther reduce sideloading movement and increase strength.

Brown6041 (author)MCUman2011-10-09

you would think it would collapse easy but my dad is 260 and has dropped down on it hard before and nothing it is surprisingly stable those pegs can go as far in as you need and they are hardwood, so not likely to break. the goal was to keep it as simple and sleek as possible but thanks for the advise

Dshach (author)2011-10-08

Very nice work!

Tried to figure out what is the missing measure: hight 18", width 36", but what is the depth of the bench? I counted 25 pieces in the photos, which makes total of 12.5". Am I right?

Brown6041 (author)Dshach2011-10-08

yep right around 12.5

leeski (author)2011-10-07

great looking project. It was just picked up by apartment therapy. com

mrserious (author)2011-10-06

Looks very nice. I am considering doing a similar design for a fireplace mantle front. One thing you may want to consider is to miter the ends of both your bench top and legs, which would minimize the glue line and continue the lines from the plywood lamination along its entire run.

Beauceron (author)2011-10-03

Not bad for plywood!

smschaff (author)Beauceron2011-10-06

Should use CDX Plywood rated for exterior use.

stoobers (author)smschaff2011-10-06

CDX is "rated" exterior, but that is only as it applies if it gets incidentally wet during construction. In other words, after and certain number of wet/dry cycles, it falls apart, so you better finish your house before that point.

ADX, BDX, CDX, wafer board - they all fall apart the same way.

Brown6041 (author)Beauceron2011-10-03

thanks a bunch, just had to see beyond the plain ole plywood and see what was there. by the way everyone feel free to vote in the make it stick 2

andygreene (author)2011-10-04

Cool design and execution. A variation might be to cut half of the strips for the top 3.5" shorter, and half for the legs 1.75 " shorter, then assemble them layering it from the edge. your joint would look like fingers interlaced....

you might need a jig to keep the angles at 90...

Questor (author)andygreene2011-10-06

don't need to cut them, just stack every other on out the width of the strips.

jbrecken (author)andygreene2011-10-04

You'd also need more clamps, since you'd want to laminate the legs and the top together at the same time. Trying to assemble the finger joint after the glue has cured on the three separate pieces would be difficult and likely to chip the plywood.

Brown6041 (author)jbrecken2011-10-05

i may give this a shot with some left over pieces i have to see how it looks/works

Brown6041 (author)andygreene2011-10-04

that is very weird because i was literally just thinking about that crazy.

Questor (author)2011-10-06

if you stack the strips so that every other one sticks out the with of the strips then glue them you could make a finger joint where the legs meet the bench.

mahvin (author)2011-10-06

Just make a centering jig from a thin sheet of masonite cut the same size as your vertical end, lay it on the top bench edges and mark your drill points.

technofossil (author)2011-10-06

Nice project and good illustrations.

You fail to mention how you line the legs with the top so the dowels will fit correctly. Since the legs are the same width as the top, there is no room for error. How did you do it?

Brown6041 (author)technofossil2011-10-06

you just have to make sure you measure twice or three times and give yourself a good layout. like they say preparation is 90% of the battle

mikeasaurus (author)2011-10-06

Looks great, I love the texture of the stacked wood grain and the finish really makes it pop!

papalindsey (author)2011-10-06

I think this thing is absolutely awesome! Great job.

Comanchegyrl (author)2011-10-06

This looks good and turned out better than I would expect with that saw. Congratulations. You could make it a bit stronger by cutting your lengths first, cutting half the full length and half shorter by the width of each ply. When you alternated the glue-up, you could have a finger-joint (simplified dovetail) which could be glued and pinned through the ends.

A bit more work, but a great improvement. It would be stronger and eliminate the need of dowels, along with making it slightly more elegant.

Brown6041 (author)2011-10-06

i want to thank everyone who has looked at my project and for all those you will come in the future. Also thanks a bunch for all the great ideas to make it better, will try these out in the future. If everyone could make sure you VOTE for the make it stick 2 contest. Thanks again

jeffeb3 (author)2011-10-03

You definitely made the right decision sealing this. Generic plywood expands when it gets wet. The glue will help, but I bet a single rain storm, or a spilled soda on an unfinished bench would ruin it.

Brown6041 (author)jeffeb32011-10-03

i totally agree. Thats why i sealed it. The one at my parents stays outside and hasn't changed in over a year.

l8nite (author)2011-10-02

great table and a very well done "ible" thank you for sharing

JackME (author)2011-10-01

A very good 'ible, looks like a very good project! Now i only need a garden i have an excuse to build one! ha

Brown6041 (author)2011-09-30

built one for my parents and they keep there's outside looks great in nature.

Flintlock (author)2011-09-30

Fantastic! Would look great on the deck I'm trying to decorate!

Brown6041 (author)2011-09-30

to be honest i just grabbed a sheet of plywood that looked good but i would say glue an wood ranged from 30 to 40 dollars.

and for step 5 i have an electric hand planer, used it to get close then sanded the rest as smooth as i could.

Thanks for the positive feedback

h3idi (author)2011-09-30

I think it's beautiful, thanks for showing us that. :)

etlerd (author)2011-09-30

Looks nice. Some questions:

1. What kind of plywood did you use? There are many 'standard' types, and it's interesting to know what you chose.
2. How much did your materials cost? Ballpark is fine, since wood costs vary by region anyway.
3. In step 5, which method did you choose to smooth the top? I once did a similar project gluing strips of plywood together to form a larger surface with the end grain as the surface, and the sanding method can be horrible. Ultimately I chose a slightly rough look :)

Brown6041 (author)2011-09-30

let me know what yall think. Thanks alot for looking.

About This Instructable




Bio: Applications Engineer for a mechanical seal company. Also run The Part-Time Woodshop!!
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