Introduction: Excellent & Easy Garden Storage Bench

When I sat down to design this bench, I forced myself to make it as simple as I possibly could while keeping it attractive and comfortable. It had to have an angled back, because I hate straight-backed discomfort. It had to have a little shelf on the back, because I need a place to put my beer. The build-in ice bucket for white wine, on the other hand, was deemed superfluous.

This is an extremely easy woodworking project. There are no joints. The whole thing is held together with decking screws. It is unsophisticated, plain, and quick to build. It's easier than an Ikea closet. A child can build this thing, as you will see in the pictures.

Yet, behold the charm! If this garden bench was a woman, she would be a farmer's daughter named Daisy. Her proportions are attractive, her seat is deep, the angle of her back is ease incarnate.

I've built a 120-cm wide two-seater bench and a 149-cm wide three-seater. Measurements for both are included.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials.

Circular saw
Wood blade for circlar saw (doesn't have to be too fine, but it's ok if it is)
Hand saw for wood
Drill (I use two drills! One for drilling holes and one for turning screws)
4 mm drill bit
Philips screwdriver
Paint brushes

5,5 cm x 5 mm deck screws
4 cm x 4 mm screws (for the seat)
3 hinges

The thickness of the wood and the width of the slats was dictated to me by the wood I could get easily at my local (Berlin, Germany) hardware store. If you feel a bit mathy, you should be able to take a look at the plan and figure out how to alter the recipe to use wood that is easy to get where you live. I used the simplest cheap pine.

The lenght of the two-seater bench has a lot to do with the size of my yard. You could easily make this a bit longer or shorter. The three-seater length was chosen because it was what I could get safely out of a 3-meter-long board and the wood I used happens to come in three-meter long sizes.

I had all the cuts done for me at the hardware store, except the diagonal cut of the back legs.

I've listed the wood like so <qty: LxWxH (what the heck it is)>. All measures are in centimeters.

The depth of the finished bench is 65 centimeters total.

For the two-seater bench

cut from smooth wood

5: 120x10x1.8 (seat back + front and back slats)
4: 60x10x1.8 (side slats)
5: 120x14x1.8 (seat back shelf + front and back slats + seat)
2: 60x14x1.8 (side slats)
2: 120x17x1.8 (seat and seat back)
1: 108.4x20x1.8 (back seat hinge board)

cut from cheaper, rougher wood

2: 42x5.8x5.8 (front legs)
2: 90x20x4 (back legs--these need a diagonal cut, explained later)
2: 20x4.8x2.4 (inside support)
1: 116.4x5.x5.6 (inside support)
3: 34x4.8x2.4 (seat cleats)

For the three-seater bench

cut from smooth wood

 5: 149x10x1.8 (seat back + front and back slats)
 4: 60x10x1.8 (side slats)
 5: 149x14x1.8 (seat back shelf + front and back slats + seat)
 2: 60x14x1.8 (side slats)
 2: 149x17x1.8 (seat and seat back)
 1: 136.4x20x1.8 (back seat hinge board)

cut from cheaper, rougher wood

 2: 42x5.8x5.8 (front legs)
 2: 90x20x4 (back legs--these need a diagonal cut, explained later)
 2: 20x4.8x2.4 (inside support)
 1: 145x5.6x5.6 (inside support)
 5: 34x4.8x2.4 (seat cleats)

This is up to you. It has to stand up to the weather, but you know what you like. I used a grey two-in-one primer + varnish.

Step 2: Cut the Angle in the Back Legs.

All of the cuts are perfectly straightforward except for the diagonal of the back legs. I've attached a picture of how to do this, which I think is easier to understand, but just in case you are a word person, here are written instructions, too.

1. Lay the leg down so the 20-cm wide side is parallel to the ground.
2. Measure 42 cm up from the base of the leg.
3. Measure 12 cm from the opposite edge of the leg across the top edge. Make a mark.
4. Using a ruler, draw a line from the top mark to the mark at 42 cm from the leg base.
5. Measure 42 cm from the base on the other side edge, draw a line across. You won't use this line for the cut, but you need it later.
6. Using the circular saw, cut along the diagonal line.

Do that twice.

Step 3: Put the Sides Together: Mark the Slat Placements.

First, you are going to mark the placement of the slats with a pencil. That way, your bench will not look like it was slapped together by a monkey. Be sure that when you mark the back legs, you lay them down so that the two straight back edges are facing each other.

Take one of the front legs. Measure from the top down on each edge 14 cm, 2cm, 10 cm. 2cm, 10cm. Draw lines across. Use these marks to transfer the measurements to the other legs. Draw lines across all. On the back legs, the measurements are done from the 42-cm-high line, but if you are transferring the measurement from the front leg, you should line up the bottoms.

Step 4: Put the Sides Together: Mark the Screw Placements.

Look at each side slat and pick the prettiest side to keep facing out. You will mark the screw placements on that side.

You might think that I am acting a little OCD with all this measuring, but your bench will be a lot hotter if your screws are all placed regularly. If you think that this is a waste of time, you can skip the marking and go straight to the drilling. See if I care.

I do the marking with a template. Grab a cerial box out of your recycling bin and take a piece with a proper right angle on it. I'll show a picture of the template, but here are written instructions, too.

On the top edge, write "top" on the front side and "bottom" on the other side.
On the left edge, write "side" on both sides.

With the front side facing you, measure three centimeters from the left edge and draw a line parallel to the left edge.
Measure three centimeters from the top edge and draw a line parllel to the top edge.
Where those two lines intersect, poke out a hole with some pointy scissors or whatever sharp object is handy.
Write the number "10" next to that hole on the front and on the back of the cardboard.

Now mesure 4.5 cm from the top edge and draw a line parallel to the top edge.
Where that line intersects with the vertical line, punch another hole.
Write the number "14" next to that hole on the front and on the back of the cardboard.

Now you can just line the top and side edge up in the corners of each board and make a dot with your pencil where your screws will go. The "10" hole is to be used for the 10-cm wide slats. The "14" hole is for the 14-cm wide slats. You turn the paper upside down to mark the opposite side.

Now you have 6 slats and 4 legs all ready to go.

The front slats have a slightly different screw placement.

Step 5: Put the Sides Together: Screw the Side Slats Onto the Legs.

Lay one front and one back leg on a flat work surface. Place the slats so that the edge of the slat is flush with the edge of the leg. You are going to put one screw in the top left corner of the slat and one screw in the bottom right corner of the slat first. That way you get each one nice and straight.

The wood I used was soft and fairly thin, so I had to drill the holes before turning in the screws, otherwise it would crack.

Once you have four screws in each slat, you will want to add two more screws to each one on the front edge of the back leg. (See drawing.) Use the same template to make the marks, considering the edge of the back leg as the side edge. Or, if you are the kind of person who likes to just eyeball it, do that.

Step 6: Put the Sides Together: Attach the Inside Supports for the Back of the Seat.

Attach one of the 20-cm long supports to the inside of the back leg. The top of the support should be at the 42-cm mark, just like the top edge of the first side slat.

You now have two sides.

Step 7: Attach the Front Slats to the Sides.

Pick which slats will face out

Look at the front and back slats to figure out which side of each one should face out. The three nicest should be the front, the others the back.

Mark your screw placements

Line up the edge of your screw placement templte not with the edge of the board, but with the edge of the leg behind it. You could make two more holes, but it's not necessary.

On the sides that are facing out, mark your screw placements.

Attach the front slats

Place the sides with the back legs against the ground and the sides facing out left and right. (should be a level surface!) Line up the boards and screw them in. The front boards cover the outward-facing edges of the side slats.

Step 8: Attach the Back Seat Support.

Take the 116.4-cm-long (2-seater) / 145 (3-seater) board and lay it along the back of the bench so that it sits on the front-facing edges of the back legs and on the inside support for the back of the seat. The top edge of this piece should be flush with the top edge of the side slats and the support. Screw it in. These screws don't show, so who cares where they are exactly. This piece will support the back of the seat lid.

Step 9: Attach the Back Slats.

Now you will turn the base over to screw in the back slats. Lift both sides at the same time when you turn it. If you lift one side first without the other, you risk twisting the structure and causing your screws to loosen or worse.

Place the boards and screw them in. Don't worry about the screw placement, just eyeball it. It won't show.

Now you can turn the bench upright. Holy cow! That's starting to look like a thing!

Step 10: Put Together the Seat Back: Attach the Hinge Board.

Take the 20-cm-wide board and lay it on top of the inner supports on your frame. It should not extend farther than the front-facing edge of the back legs. Screw it into the supports.

This is the piece your seat lid attaches to, with hinges.

Step 11: Put Together the Seat Back: Screw the Seat Back Slats In.

Mark and Measure

Now I'm going to ask you to measure again. Lay the bench down with the back of the bench on the floor. Take the 17-cm wide slat and lay it across the top edge of the back. If you were to screw the slat in flush with the top, your back shelf would be a little bit off kilter. To avoid that, lay a ruler or a piece of scrap wood along the top edge of the leg to push the 17-cm slat down just a touch.

Draw a line on the front-facing edge of the back leg along the bottom of the slat. Do this on both sides.
Now, from that line, measure two centimeters and draw a parallel line. That will be the line you will use to place the 10-cm slat.

The screw template doesn't work for these  because the back legs are narrower. Just estimate the center of the back leg edge and draw a ruler line over that on the seat back slats. Measure 4.5 cm from the top and bottom on the 17-cm-wide slat and 3 cm from the top and bottom for the 10-cm slat.

Screw the seat back slats in

There should be a 1.8-cm overlap on each side. This is normal.

Step 12: Put Together the Seat Back: Screw the Back Shelf On.

Sit the bench back upright, admire your handiwork for a second, and then set the 14-cm-wide shelf board across the top of the back legs. Screw it in.

Step 13: Put Together the Seat Lid: Attach the First Seat Board to the Cleats.

Attach the first seat board to the cleats

This part is a bit tricky. Too hard for a little kid to tackle, but still easier than an Ikea closet.

Take one of the 14-cm wide seat boards and lay it on a flat surface. Measure and draw a line parallel to the edge 5 centimeters from the edge. This is your guide for where the cleats are going to start.

Take your cleats and lay them on a flat surface, their top edges all lined up. I used the table edge to line them up. Lay your board on top of the cleats. The line you drew will line up with the top edges of the cleats. Be patient. This is a little bit tricky.

Take a ruler and draw a line on the board to use as a guide for where to put your screw marks. Estimate the center of the cleat and make a line up the board for each cleat. Now you can use your screw template to mark where the screw should sit.

Drill and screw in one screw for each cleat on this first board. Now the hard part is over.

Step 14: Put Together the Seat Lid: Attach the Other Two Seat Boards to the Cleats.

Now it's the easy part. Take the 17-cm wide board and line it up under the board you just attached.

Extend the line parallel to the center of each cleat which you used for screw placement. Use your template to mark where you will put the screws. Use the 14-cm hole.

Drill your holes and then screw the second board to the cleats.

Repeat for the last board.

Lay the seat on the frame and be proud of yourself for a minute. This is a good time for a beer.

Step 15: Finish to Your Taste.

I used a two-in-one primer/outdoor wood finishing product, but you will know what is right for you.

Step 16: Attach the Seat Lid With Hinges

Once the paint is all dry, just attach the seat with your hinges and you are DONE!

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