4' Midcentury-Style Plant Bench




Introduction: 4' Midcentury-Style Plant Bench

This Instructable will show you how to construct a simple midcentury-style bench from materials available at your home improvement store. I could only find the tapered legs at Menard's, but you might find them at such places as Home Depot in your area. You should be able to build this bench for around $25 in materials, assuming you have tools and things like steel wool and wood glue around the house. If not, the cost will be a bit more. The bench is sturdy, I have sat on it, but it's not designed for that. It was designed to get my numerous house plants off the floor. I'm sure these plans could be modified for seating, as they do make longer legs.

Materials List:

  • Measuring Tape
  • Pencil
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Elmer's Wood Glue
  • Elmer's Wood Filler (optional)
  • Minwax Wipe-On Poly (I use satin)
  • Minwax Penetrating Stain, small can (I used Dark Walnut)
  • (1) Shop Rag, lint-free
  • Tack Cloth
  • Fine Steel Wool and/or 800 grit sandpaper
  • Cordless Drill
  • Small Saw or Saber Saw to cut small board
  • Small orbital sander, such as Black and Decker Mouse
  • 7/64" Drill Bit
  • 1/8" Drill Bit
  • 2" Blue Painter's-style tape
  • (4) Taper Legs, 12" length (about $2.50 a piece)
  • (4) Leg Plates, Angled (not the straight ones) (about $1.50 a piece)
  • (1) 3/4"x11"x4' board (or similar size, about $6)
  • (1) 3/4"x2 1/2 x4' board (or similar size, about $6)
  • (1) box #10x 1 1/4" zinc phillips flat head screws, Qty:20 (you'll only need about 6) about $2.00

Step 1: Cut the Smaller Board to Size

1. Cut 5" off the smaller 2 1/2" . This will be used as a "spine" for support and to prevent warping.

Step 2: Sand All Boards Smooth

2. Sand all surfaces of the boards with the sander or by hand until smooth. Knock down the edges of the boards so they aren't so sharp. Remember to sand with the grain of the wood. I used the sander, and followed up with a slight hand-sanding with some 800 grit I had lying around. I realize that's pretty fine paper, but that's what I had. I think my sander was mounted with about 400 grit or a medium grit.

Step 3: Apply Wood Glue to Smaller Board and Attach

3. Apply wood glue to the smaller board, and center on the "worse" side of the larger board. I had a chip on the edge that I filled with wood filler. Secure the smaller board with the painter's tape to hold it on place for the next step...

Step 4: Drill Holes Through Smaller Board and Into Large Board, Without Going Through

4. While the glue is still wet, use the 1/8" drill bit and drill to drill about 6 evenly-spaced pilot holes through the smaller board and into the larger board. You DON'T want to drill all the way through the larger board. Measure the depth of the two boards together, and use painter's tape on the drill bit as a depth gauge. You can then see how deep the drill bit penetrates while you are drilling. The 1 1/4" screws did not go all the way though, which is what I wanted. Depending on the kind of wood you are using, you might need shorter or longer screws.

Step 5: Drive the Screws Into the Boards

5. You may countersink the holes, if you have a countersink, and like that look. I didn't, since you can't see them anyway...

Step 6: To Stain or Not to Stain

6. At this point, you can stain all the pieces, or wait until final assembly.

Step 7: Attaching the Leg Plates and Legs

7. The leg plates come with 4 small screws to attach the plates. The measurements I used were 1.5 inches from the corner, and .5 inch from the corner of the plate. See the image. You can adjust this, of course, but this worked for me. Mark the holes with the pencil, then use the 7/64 drill bit with depth tape to drill small pilot holes. Screw on the plate.

Sometimes the threaded end of the leg is too long from manufacturing, so it screws past the plane of the leg plate. Check all of the legs, because you won't be able to twist the leg on tight if this happens. It's an easy fix: just take pliers or vise grips and twist the threaded end deeper into the leg. It's not hard, and you'll have a perfect fit. Another tip is to attach the plates first, then screw on the legs. It's easier to turn your screwdriver when the legs aren't in the way!

Step 8: Finishing

8. Use the tack cloth to pick up any sawdust and stuff. Use a old rag to wipe the stain on your bench. Follow the manufactured instructions. I only used one coat, I thought it was dark enough. I'd let that dry overnight. Then, use a lint-free shop rag to wipe on the poly. I used a satin finish. I used 4 coats on the top surface, and 2 on the underside. Use the fine steel wool and tack cloth between coats of poly. Use long, even strokes with the grain when applying the poly. Follow manufacturers instructions for dry time and recoat time.

Step 9: Done!

You're all done! Almost too nice to put plants on. I love the look of the piece. When shopping for a pre-made piece, I just couldn't find the size, style and material of bench I needed for my apartment. Rustic-type benches on websites were around $200. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

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    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice! What kind of wood did you use?

    I'd love to see a photo of it in action, with plants on it. :)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Laura,

    I posted some pics of the bench with my plants on it. You're right, I think it makes the project more inviting. Thanks! -Dan


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That's lovely, Dan! I have some empty space in front of a window in my apartment. You're making me want to build this project for my houseplants. I really like the silhouette of it.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm putting another coat of poly on the bottom, then I'll take a shot with the plants, lol. I grow African violets. The small board was wrapped in plastic, and the label said Aspen wood. I believe the large board was just simple Pine, but good quality. You really can use any sort of wood, but since it was a side piece for plants, I kept it cheap. If I was building a "people bench, I probably would have bought a nice walnut board, but the wood would have been about $50. The board was like this, but only 4 feet long : https://www.menards.com/main/building-materials/lu...



    7 years ago

    Perfect looking piece, I really like this table!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very nicely done! This looks like a great project . . . not too difficult, and the end result looks excellent!

    Great first instructable, too. I hope we see more from you soon!