Introduction: Rustic Garden/Planter Bench From Headboards

This is a great little project that doesn't take too much time, but produces a great finished product.

The basis of this project is to make something good and useful from something we found on the side of the road that someone else no longer found value in.

This project is a little quicker with a headboard and footboard with fewer steps. A footboard traditionally being shorter than the headboard. We used two headboards because that is what we found.

As you will see later in this project, you are not limited to using this for an outdoor garden bench. You could also use this by your entry way for removing or putting on shoes. It is sturdy enough to hold an adult. Another option is to use it as a kids bench, or a "time-out" bench. It is very versatile and strong.


2 headboards (or headboard and footboard)

Boards/planks for seat. (We used 2 - 1" x 8" boards)


Cordless screwdriver (or manual, if you want to flex)


Wood glue


Measuring device (square, speed square, tape measure, etc.)

Circular saw

60 grit sand paper



White outdoor acrylic/latex paint, (thinned a little with water, to make a white-wash)

Step 1: Trim Down

For this first step, we decided to trim down one of our headboards so our side pieces would be shorter and it would give us a nice straight surface to attach our boards to to make the seat.

To do this we started by knocking off the legs, carefully, with a hammer. We ere not too worried about dings, as we were going for a worn rustic look anyway.

Once we had the leg pieces knocked off we chose to use the bottom edge of notched out side as our height, and used a yard stick to give us a straight line across.

We then measured the lower piece that we were going to be using for our seat base and drew another line up the center. After doing this you should have two cut lines. The first, going the full width of the piece to cut off the top portion that you won't be using. The second cut line should go straight up the center. This cut is what will give you the two pieces for your sides.

Step 2: Cut and Re-glue

Cut your board. I recommend cutting the long cut first. Then cutting the piece you are keeping in half. As you can tell, I forgot to take a picture after the first cut, so I just kind of pushed the pieces back together and took a pic so you can see the length of the board and where the center cut should be.

Once you have trimmed one of your head board pieces down and cut it in half, look at your pieces and determine which half attaches back to which leg. It is pretty easy to tell by how the pegs line up.

Next use wood glue to glue the legs back on.

Wait for it to dry, or you can continue on if you are careful.

At this point, you should have 1 fully intact head board, and one that has been trimmed down and cut in half creating 2 separate pieces with one leg each attached.

Step 3: Attach Sides to Back (headboard)

There are two ways you can do this.

1. You can do what we did and attach your side piece to the side of the back leg, making sure it is flush with the back, so you have a broader surface area to attach it to. We felt like this gave it more stability.


2. You can butt the side piece to the front of the back leg and screw it together going all the way through that chunky leg, which will require a much longer screw, and some pre-drilling to keep your side piece from splitting when you screw into it. This one can give it a little cleaner finished look, but for our purposes, the payoff was not worth the extra work.

It's up to you.

Step 4: Add the Seat

This is the last step as far as construction goes. If not, you will need to adjust according to your needs.

Measure from side to side of the bench to determine the length of your seat boards. Then cut accordingly.

After your seat boards are cut, attach to the bench with screws.

For our project 2 - 1" x 8" boards fit perfect in the space we had available. You can use whatever fits best for your project or make adjustments to whatever you have on hand. Since headboards and footboards come in all shapes and sizes there is no, "One size fits all" option for boards to use.

Step 5: Structure Complete- Test Sturdiness

Now that your bench is structurally complete, test it for stability.

We did this primarily because we weren't sure at this point how we were going to use it, but decided whether it was going to be to hold plants or butts, I needed to be able to do so without falling apart. Plants can get heavy too, ya know.

Yup. It is sturdy.

On to the finishing touches.

Step 6: Painting and Scuffing

The first thing I did for this step was to use our 60-grit sand paper to lightly rough up and remove most of the varnish that was left on the bench. It was pretty old and dull, so there didn't seem to be too much.

Then after sanding. I wiped down the whole thing with a clean hand towel.

We wanted a weathered, white-washed look for our bench, so I took a little bit of outdoor formula Kilz, because it was the only white outdoor paint I had, and added some water to it to thin it out.

Once I had the paint thinned, I painted the entire bench, not being too careful and intentionally leaving it streaky. After the paint dried, I went back and lightly sanded some spots on the back rest and legs to make it look more worn. and scuffed up, as you can see in the third picture.

Step 7: Voila!

Here you have a picture of the bench, being used as a decorative way to hold/display plants. This is ultimately how we plan to continue to use it. However, If I/we find another headboard, and hopefully, an actual footborard this time, on the side of the road we may do another and use it for an entry bench.

Good luck. Remember, "Reduce - Reuse - Recycle" and I will add, Repurpose. "Trash to Treasure" projects are the best, or at least some of the most fun!

Trash to Treasure Contest

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure Contest