Simple Bench




This is a great project for a simple bench to put outside in your garden or around the campfire. You can either stain it or let it "gray" naturally. It cost me about $45 at the local hardware store. 

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Step 1:

First, you have to gather your supplies. You'll need

8 cedar boards 1x4x16in (six with curve cuts if you want for the seat)
8 cedar boards 1x4x47in
4 cedar posts 4x417in
56 2-in deck screws
32 1 1/4-in deck screws (for seat slats)
and 1 qt. exterior oil finish if desired 

I bought 6 -- 1x4x8' cedar boards and 1 -- 4x4x8' cedar post and had plenty of wood for the project, seen in the picture.

Step 2:

Secondly, you'll cut the boards to the desired length stated in the previous step and seen in this picture.

Step 3:

This is the most difficult step creating the curves in the seat. This step is optional and you could just create a flat seat bench instead. I took a 1x4x16 in and marked out two points on the edge 2 3/4" from the bottom, then in the middle a point 1 3/4" from the middle. Next part you might need a buddy to help you with. I took a bendable ruler and hit all three points creating a curve and drew the line. I then cut the board out on a band saw and used this board as the template for the other 5 boards you'll need to cut. Once finished I sanded them down a little but not a totally needed.

Step 4:

The next step is creating the frame for the bench seat. I started out by clamping the outer boards together. Pre-drill before screwing or your boards will splinter! 

Once the outside of the seat is secure, you can start screwing in the inside ribs. The next two ribs from the outside are the leg post apart so put the post into the board and place the rib snug against the post and attach. 

Finally, put in the next two ribs in the middle. I made mine 16 in from the outside of the frame on either side. 

Step 5:

Next is putting the bench slats across the frame. Keep the outside to boards snug against the frame and space the other two boards evenly across the seat. 

Step 6:

Once the seat is finished we can attach the legs. Make sure the legs are level and clamp them to the frame while you screw two screws on either side of the legs.

Step 7:

Last step is putting on the leg bracing. Stand the bench straight and measure 4 1/2" from the bottom of the legs. Start with the short boards first and then the longer boards. The long boards will over lap the end of the short boards. 

This is the end of the project unless you want to stain it. I hope you've enjoyed this instructable and enjoy making your new bench.



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    15 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 4

    Ok, you appear to be screwing into end grain. This will work for a while but is generally avoided in woodwork since it is a weak joint. Try to use ingenuity to always screw (or nail) into cross grain.

    6 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hey folks danzo321's comment is correct and therefore constructive. Screwing into end grain creates a weak joint that will fail. One way to solve that problem is to drill a hole across the width of the end grain board and insert a dowel into the hole, and then screw into the dowel. You can also purchase dowel screws which have a threaded metal dowel and are excellent for making knockdown furniture. And lastly you can make mortise and tenon joints or half-laps. Half laps and dowels are the easiest and all of these joints but they all solve the problem of weak end-grain.


    Reply 6 years ago on Step 4

    thanks woodnfish. I have a very simple bench I should make my first instructable, when I get good pics.. On this one, I might have a board under the curve-cut boards so they transfer weight that way too. If done right, 6 cross-supports should not be necessary.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    There's nothing wrong with criticism, as long as it's constructive (pun intended). If you were taught never to screw into end grain and you encourage ingenuity, why not offer some of your own and suggest how it could be handled differently. I for one would be interested to know how you would address this end grain conundrum. I'm always looking to build a better mousetrap, so if you have a constructive alternative, by all means share it.

    Why so critical?? His methods are common building practice. The end grain joints are supported by other joints. This project is better supported than a standard studwall in the majority of homes built in the last century or so. As long as he predrilled the holes to prevent splitting, he should be fine.


    I agree (see my comment to the author).

    It irritates me to see overly critical comments to an Instructable created by a young builder just starting out. This guy is building a garden bench, not a piano.

    "As long as I can remember, I have either been putting something together, or taking it apart to see how it went together." Yep, me too. Started taking things apart 70 years ago, the putting back together came a few years later.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Screwing into end grain is standard practice in the construction industry, and as has already been said just use a longer screw. The addition of a casein glue such as Cascamite or its stronger marine grade partner Cascaphen, will guarantee a sound joint.
    When nailing into end grain angle (dovetail) the nails and this will prevent them from pulling out. Also the use of ring-shank nails will help to keep things together.
    Great little bench, well done!....a 5 start project!

    uncle frogy

    6 years ago on Introduction

    I would second the idea of using stainless fasteners cedar and in addition redwood are acidic which discourages insects and rot apparently.
    maybe some info on wood might help to understand why end grain screws are not as strong. Wood is essentially tube or straws held together with glue that go from the root to the top of the tree . When we screw into the wood parallel the threads cut cut the tubes so the only thing holding the screw from just pulling them out is"glue" if the screw is 90* to them with them it parts them almost like a nut.
    Nailing if framing is somewhat different we use a nail in "green lumber" the nail parts the tubes and is then held fast when the wood dries even stronger when they are coated with vinyl glue.
    one old technique use in the past was to install piece of dowel into the wood across the grain and screw through it.
    if these details are taken into account in the design the bench will last longer without working loose and be stronger over all.
    stainless nails are also made though not as cheap or easy to find.
    very nice bench all the same.
    uncle frogy

    1 reply
    pattiemeltuncle frogy

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Stainless fasteners are a good idea but if you don't want to spend the extra money on them (or, like me, don't have the extra to spend), you can also buy coated fasteners. The big box DIY stores, like Home Depot, have steel deck screws that polymer-coated to protect from acidic woods & that are colored for use in different colors of wood/finishes. They also are available with different heads (Phillips, star, square) so you can choose which way to drive them.

    Great bench - I love the curved seat, so much more comfortable than the plain flat seat! Good job.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you all for your input, I'm always excited to learn woodworking techniques and skills. Thanks again and hope everyone is enjoying the bench plans.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I really like the bench. Especially the curved seat, it is much more comfortable. I would like to suggest using stainless fasteners. My experience with western red cedar shows galvanized after a year or two makes black run marks as the galvanization corrodes. Stainless leaves no marks. Great point on end grains, but this bench is well built with all the brackets and is superior to many commercial benches.


    6 years ago on Step 7

    nice job one suggestion i might have is to move the leg braces inside the legs

    Bill WW

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Sometimes when I have to use screws into end grain, I use longer screws and angle them a bit so they are not going directly parallel to the end grain. Does not take much angle to give the screws plenty of bite.

    Good project, I like the curved seat, nice touch.