A friend of mine wanted a bench for her sons who just happen to like the superheroes Ironman, Hulk, and Spiderman. I couldn't resist the opportunity to combine my longtime fondness of painting with my new skills in woodworking and naturally I also had to make an instructable.
2x3x8ft lumber x4 (There will be some left over)
4'x2' Sheet of Plywood
Wood Screws (About 50 in various sizes)
Paint (Black/Superhero Colors)
Paint Pens x2
Stain (I used Minwax Red Chestnut, small can)
Miter Saw (Optional)
Paint Brushes (Various Sizes, Both Disposable and Non)
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Step 1: Cutting/Gluing the Bench Frame
I cut all the pieces from the 2x3's as follows:
8x 14" pieces
1x 3'8" piece
I did this with a miter saw but any saw will do.
Next I cut an angle for the backrest on the --- pieces with a jigsaw. I wanted the angled edge to be 14" long because the backrest will be 12" wide, thus leaving a two inch gap (this will be the same measurements for the seat)
I glued all the pieces together as shown creating a middle set of legs and two side sets of legs, clamping until dry. For each of the side pieces I glued together one 16" and one 14" at a 90 degree angle, then I added a 32" piece to the other end of the 14" piece, creating what looks like a lowercase "h". Finally a second 14" piece is glued on about 6 inches below the first. For the middle it is essentially the same procedure but there will be a total of four 14" pieces used, two on each side of the "h"
I then added a middle crossbar (the 3'8" piece) to keep the middle and side legs in place. I cut a notch out of this long 3'8" piece on either end of it and matched notches on the leg cross bars so the long piece sat flush. I then glued this into place after I made sure it all fit together nice and level.
After the glue dried I added screws for strength. To make them less visible I drilled a hole the diameter of the screw shaft and then drilled a hole the diameter of the screw head as deep as I wanted the screw to be hidden which was about half an inch.
Step 2: Attaching the Seat
I thought about just using the glued cross bar and seat as a solid enough structure but I decided to cut 8 triangles from the extra wood I had left to use at each corner of the legs and crossbar. Once the pieces were all cut I simply glued them in and then followed up with two screws per triangle. This created a very stable structure to add the bench seat to.
The seat I glued and clamped down after making sure it was centered over the frame of the bench. I followed it up with some screws underneath, making sure to measure the depth needed carefully so the screws wouldn't poke through.
Step 3: Staining and Painting Part 1
While the wood was relatively smooth already I made sure to sand any rough spots or dried glue away before this process. I used a Minwax Red Chestnut stain for the legs and back posts and then a primer followed by black interior paint for the seat.
Step 4: Painting Part 2
The first step in painting the superheroes was to divide the backrest into four equal parts so each character would be centered in a third of the board. After finding some images on the internet for reference I drew out each character in pencil and then painted their main colors on (I chose to use only a few colors per character to save on paint and add a more cartoon like effect). Each character ended up needing 2 or three colors and once those were painted on in a couple coats I went in with paint pens to add the lines and details. A word of warning about paint pens; while they are dry to the touch relatively quickly, they will smear if wet paint goes over them. Best to let them dry for at least an hour or more.
After the characters are painted on, I drilled holes in the bench posts, added glue, and clamped the backrest to the posts. I followed this up with three screws for each post, attaching them to the backrest.
Step 5: Finishing Up
With the bench completed I added a couple of finishing coats of polyurethane, lightly sanding in between each coat (this is where a few disposable brushes come in handy). I checked to make sure polyurethane is safe for children's furniture and after the recommended curing time (about 3-4 weeks) it is perfectly stable and safe.
Hope you feel inspired to make your own superhero bench for kids (or adults)!