After the spring clean-up and 5 yards of new mulch, we realized that we need a garden bench in our front yard, my lovely wife has a very specific location in her mind, and my job is to create the bench in a timely fashion, and the specific look that she's looking for, although she would not describe it.
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Step 1: Bench Design Idea
Design is to use material that are available in any home center and create an easy to build garden bench.
We measure all the chairs in the house, and they are about 17" to 18", and that's a fairly comfortable height for us but we have two kids, in that regard, we want to create something they can enjoy as well, so the garden bench would be something at 15"-16" in height.
The rest of the dimension are just the reference, it should be based on the space that the bench will be placed, and the total look of the bench at individual preferences. In our case, it is 48" (L) x 15 1/2" (H) x 18" (W).
PLEASE NOTE: IF DECIDE TO MAKE A SIMILAR BENCH, PLEASE MAKE ALL NECESSARY CHANGES BASED ON YOUR OWN SAFETY CONCERN.
Step 2: Material
We will use landscaping timber for the support and ceder 2x4 as bench surface.
(2) x 8' landscaping timber
(3) x8' ceder 2 x 4 lumber
(1) box of 2" deck screw
And a drill, 3/8" drill bit, and some outdoor finish poly for the ceder lumber, as the landscaping timber are pressure treated for outdoor use already.
Step 3: Milling Processes
Cut landscaping timber into 18" long sections. In order to make the identical cuts, I set a stop for my miter saw and ensure the cut length stays the same. One 8' timber should yield (5) pieces plus a little extra, that will be one side of the bench support.
Put (4) of the support pieces side by side and draw five lines on them as pictured. The 5th piece will have to be processed in later step.
Use drill with 3/8" drill bit to drill holes that are off-set to each other as pictured. The holes should be about 1" from the bottom (drill about 1 7/8" into the timber). I used drill press with a depth stop, or a piece of tape on the drill bit can be used to indicate the 1 7/8 drill depth.
Cut ceder 2 x 4 into 48" sections. I use router to cut a champfer on the sides, as it looks more "finished" than just use the ceder as it is with the round over edges.
Step 4: Bench Support Layout
Now go back to the 5th piece of the landscaping timber, which would be the piece that all the ceder top mounted to. Use a piece of cut-off from the ceder top as template, mark two points where you would like to have the screws going to be (go through and screw into the ceder top). Find the center line of the cut-off piece as picture shows and align with the mid point of the support, and transfer those two screw location points to the support piece, and make (2) marks. Those will be the reference points for later on to drill 3/8" holes.
Use a spacer (preferred spacing) to move the template outboard to continue lay out process as pictured. After complete one support piece, transfer all the markings to the other side.
Drill off-set holes as pictured. Again, drill holes 1 7/8" into the piece, leave about 1" at the bottom.
Step 5: Bench Top and Final Assembly
Finish the ceder top first. We left the imperfection and discoloration of all pieces there to show the charactor of nature, they worked out very well.
The key of the assembly process is to think outside the box and build this bench up-side-down, so that none of the screw could be seen.
Pick out the side as the top for all ceder top pieces, and flip they over to start the assembly process. Make sure all the edges align to each other. Use spacers to make sure the even spacing of each ceder piece, and clamp all (5) pieces together.
Use a piece of 1x6 as a guide as shown in the picture, so that the first support is square to the top. When everything looks OK, drive deck screws into each pre-drilled 3/8" holes to connect support with top. Be careful not over drive the screw, as It could go through the top! I put a mark on my drill bit to ensure the right depth.
Use square to align the next piece, and use clamps when ever it's possible. The off-set holes are necessary to ensure that the screw will not end up on top of each other. Plan ahead, everything will fall into the place by itself, the total assembly time was less than an hour.
Bench is completed, and most importantly, our family liked it! So set it in place and enjoy!