Introduction: Wood Picnic Bench, $30 Lumber, $15 Finish.

This is a very sturdy yet very light picnic bench that I designed and built. Its made from 1" lumber, which means it can be built pretty much with just hand tools. Its a very easy and satisfying build for the experienced through beginner wood shop enthusiast. I don't think I even used a ruler/measuring tape more than once or twice on the whole project.

Step 1: Materials and Style.

the build of this bench is one of two ways, long ways top or short way top. the bottom is identical either way. The first two (pictured here) are made the long way, and will need two extra cross members so the seating area doesn't sag. For the step-by-step build below, I'll build the short way top.

For this build I used 1x4 pine board for the legs and sides, and Pine Dog-Ear Fence Picket. I needed 4 of the fence panel boards (they were really cheap, $1.25 at home depot. the 1x4 pine boards were pretty cheap too. I use decking screws and titlebond III WATERPROOF glue, minwax stain, teak oil, and helmsman semi-gloss spar poly-urathane.

each "X" that makes up the legs uses about 16 feet of 1x4, and you'll need some spare pieces for cross members and such. I made the bench around 52" long.


6 1x4x8'

4 5/8 in. x 5-1/2 in. x 6 ft. Pressure-Treated Pine Dog-Ear Fence Picket


1 box 1 5/8,

a few 2",

a few 3" deck screws

titlebond III ultimate wood glue waterproof.

gorilla glue

minwax wood stain (english chestnut)

teak oil

Satin Helmsman Indoor/Outdoor Spar Urethane

Step 2: Some Drawings.

so I started this in cad software, I'll try and remember to upload it. I was pretty amazed with how exactly the cad model was to the actual build. I"m really an amateur woodworker, this bench was built with plenty of mistakes, I documented those mistakes and the workarounds I did to fix them. As you will see if I used better wood, and was more exact I could of built it better, but I"m happy with the results and hopefully the build will give you enough instruction to build your own, avoiding my mistakes, and giving you the insight to make improvements.

EDIT: ok I've uploaded the Cad files of the bench. They were designed in AC3D (the .ac file,) and I also exported into the more standard .DAE CAD file format which at least sketchup can import.

Step 3: The Build From Beginning to End, Done in Pictures.

For the most part the build explanation is done in the pictures. look at them carefully and you'll see how it goes. I started by cutting an 8' 1x4 into 4 about 22" sections. the "X"'s are 22" x 22" and are 4 ply built up.

Step 4: Keep Adding More Layers to the Legs.

After you make the initial "X" with 2 of the 22" 1x4 pieces, cut diagonally to make the top and the bottom of the "X" straight and parallel with the ground. Then mark on the a remaining 1x4 to cut out the filler pieces so the "X" becomes 2 ply completely flat.

Step 5: Keep Going.

You are going to keep adding layers of full 22" pieces (4 all together alternating forward and back) and filler pieces. add the 3rd layer, and when you add the 4th layer, glue the filler pieces in but hold off on the full length diagonal until you attach the brace first. then the screws holding the brace will be inside the leg.

Step 6: Fourth Layer of Leg Attached After Cross Member Support Is Glued/screwed in Place.

I never checked the alignment of the 3-ply cross member support before I glued it into the 4th layer of the leg. it was fixable as shown later with a triangle wedge.

Step 7: The Second Leg Cross Member Done Right, the Fix to the First.

Step 8: Top Support and End Piece.

the end piece is the first piece of the top that is attached.

Step 9: More Fixes for Mistakes.

I didn't cut the tops and bottoms very straight, no big deal I'm gonna stuff the gaps with shims. they will all be covered by the seating area anyway.

Step 10: The Sides

Step 11: Top Center Support.

this one is the only really tricky part as you want the piece to be flush with the top so I notched it.

Step 12: Now for the Top.

the top is made from the fence panel wood. its rough cut so it need a lot of sanding. You really want to round all the edges on the bench.

Step 13: Clean Up, Sanding and Cutting Away Parts That Stick Out.

Step 14: Stain and Poly-urathane and Gorilla Glue

gorilla glue on the feet of the bench is a perfect barrier between the ground and the wood.

Step 15: Your Done!

some finished pics.