So I have seen plenty of two by four benches before and while there is nothing wrong with the more simple designs I've seen, I wanted to change it up some. So I set to work designing my own version. With the help of Sketchup I came up with a design that incorporates some angles as well as some curved lines. The bench is made from cedar with metal accents.
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Wood of your choice, I used cedar.
pencil or pen
hack saw or DEWALT Reciprocating Saw
band saw or Jig Saw
table saw, circular saw or hand saw
drill press or hand drill
Regular wood drill bits and Forstner Bits
Belt Sander - Mine isn't available anymore so I linked a popular option.
sandpaper of various grits
Stainless steel nuts purchased at a local big box store
MDF for templates
Mortiser used to make my mortise and tenon joints
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Step 1: Design the Bench
As I mentioned before I spent some time with the Sketchup program designing the bench. I went through several designs before settling on this one. And yes, in the end I decided not to use the center stretcher piece going from one leg brace to the other. In real life I just didn't like the look and it wasn't needed for structural purposes.
Step 2: Mark Out and Cut Templates
Using some scrap MDF I had laying around I marked out the shape of the templates. To achieve the long curve under the seat of the bench I used a very thin piece of wood bent to the desired curve. Once it was all marked out I took the templates over to the band saw to be cut out.
Step 3: Cut Wood to Rough Dimensions
Starting with my miter saw I cut all the boards to a rough length. From that point I took them to my jointer to flatten one face of the boards. Then it was over to my power planer to flatten the opposing face.
I also used my table saw to go ahead and cut the short pieces to final length. These would later become the spacer blocks in the seat of the bench.
Step 4: Cut Out Rough Shape
Using the templates I made before I transferred the dimensions to the cedar wood. From that point it was over to the band saw again to cut out the rough shape.
Step 5: Trim to Final Dimension.
Using my Bosch Plunge router with a flush cutting bit I trimmed off all excess wood to bring the cedar to it's final dimension.
Step 6: Mark Out Hole Locations
Referencing my design I marked out all hole locations that would later accept the threaded rod and nuts. Then using my drill press with a 3/8" wood drill bit I drilled out all the holes. On the outer edges of the outside boards I counter sunk the holes using a 1" forstner bit. This will leave room for the nuts to be recessed below the surface of the wood.
Step 7: Cut the Threaded Rod
Dry fitting all the pieces of the bench together I first inserted the 3/8" stainless steel threaded rod with one nut attached. When all the way through I used a piece of tape to mark out where I needed to cut. After cutting the rod with my reciprocating saw, I then fine tuned the length with my bench grinder.
Step 8: Cut Mortise and Tenon Joints
For the cross pieces between the legs my plans called for mortise and tenon joints.
For the mortises I am lucky to have a mortising machine. So basically I marked out where I wanted the mortise and "drilled" out the mortise. If you do not have one of these machines this of course can be done with chisels. I still had to use a chisel to do some fine tuning to the mortise.
For the tenons I used my table saw with a regular blade. Making several passes to remove the right amount of wood.
And finally a dry fit to make sure everything fits just right before glue up.
Step 9: Glue Up.
With all pieces laid out and ready for glue up I started with the cross pieces between the legs. Applying a liberal amount of Titebond 3 wood glue to the mortise and tenon joints I clamped them together with scrap blocks as to not damage the wood.
Then moving to the center dividers I applied more of the same glue followed by inserting the threaded rods and nuts. These acted as clamps for the glue up.
Step 10: Sanding!
After the glue had time to dry it was time to get everything sanded down. The under side of all of the short spacer blocks had to be sanded down to match the shape of the curve on the long pieces of the bench seat. This was achieved using my belt sander with 80 grit sandpaper.
From there I switched to my orbital sander going from 120 grit to 220 grit sandpaper.
I also added a small chamfer to the bottom of the legs. I just used 120 grit sandpaper with a block of wood to achieve this. This will help prevent any tare out if the bench is slid around on the ground.
Step 11: Round Over the Edges
Using my Bosch Trim Router and a 3/8" round over bit I chose to round over the edges of the top of the seat. This adds comfort to the seat as your sitting on it.
Step 12: Apply the Finish
After one last sanding where I applied the round overs and a wipe down with a tack cloth I applied the finish. I chose to use an exterior grade spar urethane. I applied 3 coats while sanding with 220 grit in between each coat.
Step 13: Give It Away!
Since it was my moms birthday at the time this made for a great present for her!
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