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DIY Arbor and Bench

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

If you love sitting and taking in nature’s beauty, this arbor-and-bench combo is for you.

Garden bench with arbor

Project Overview

Skill Level

Intermediate

Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost

$$$$$$

Tools & Materials

Tools

  • Table saw or miter saw
  • Drill and bit set
  • 7/8-in spade bit
  • Tape measure
  • Hacksaw or copper tube cutter
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Posthole digger
  • Plumb bob or level

Materials

  • 3 - 4 x 4 x 72 pressure-treated boards (arbor)
  • 4 - 4 x 4 x 122 pressure-treated boards (arbor)
  • 8 - 3/4-in x 10-ft type M copper pipes, #23791 (arbor)
  • 3/4-in x 5-ft type M copper pipe, #23792 (arbor)
  • Liquid Nails construction adhesive, #44906 (arbor)
  • 2 packages of 6-in HeadLok screws (arbor)
  • 4 - Quikrete concrete mix, 60 pounds, #10387 (arbor)
  • 4 - Quickrete all-purpose gravel, 50 pounds, #10439, or Sakrete, #293357 (arbor)
  • 2 - 4 x 4 x 96 pressure-treated boards (bench)
  • 1 x 4 x 144 pressure-treated board (bench)
  • 2 x 2 x 96 pressure-treated board (bench)
  • 3/4-in x 5-ft type M copper pipe, #23792 (bench)
  • 3-in deck screws (bench)
  • 1-5/8-in deck screws (bench)
  • 2 packages of 6-in HeadLok screws (bench)
  • Liquid Nails construction adhesive, #44906 (bench)
  • Cabot solid exterior stain, gallon, Arboretum (both)

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Project Resources

Instructions

Before you dig the postholes for the arbor, dial the “One Call” phone number for your state or province and ask to have the buried pipes and wires on your property located and marked. If you can’t find the number, call the North American One Call Referral System at 888-258-0808.

Prepare the Arbor Parts

Step 1

Referring to the Project Diagram and Cutting List, crosscut the arbor front/back stretchers (A), arbor ends (B), and arbor posts (C) to length. To ensure identical lengths of multiple parts for a square assembly, use an auxiliary fence and a stop block on your saw.

Good to Know

Select the clearest (least knotted) and straightest boards you can find. This provides for the best appearance and easiest assembly.

Step 2

Use a hacksaw or copper tube cutter to crosscut 42 pieces of 3/4-in copper pipe to 24 inches long.

Step 3

To mark centerpoints for the holes in the arbor front/back stretchers (A) and arbor posts (C) to receive the copper pipes, place the stretchers and the posts on a flat surface with their faces temporarily clamped tight together and their bottom ends aligned. Using a carpenter’s square, draw lines across the width of the parts at the centerpoint locations where dimensioned. (The stretchers need 12 centerpoints, and the posts need 15.) Separate the parts. Adjust a combination square to 1-3/4 inches (half the width of the 4x4s). Now draw lines across the centerlines to complete the centerpoints.

Step 4

With a 7/8-in spade bit in your drill, bore 1/2--in-deep holes into the stretchers and posts at the centerpoints.

Good to Know

For consistently deep 1/2-in holes, wrap a piece of masking tape 1/2 inch from the tips of the cutting wings (not the center point) of the 7/8-in spade bit that you’ll use.

Step 5

To assemble the arbor front/back stretchers (A), arbor ends (B), and copper pipes, squeeze a small amount of Liquid Nails interior/exterior construction adhesive into the holes in the stretchers. Insert pipes into the holes in one stretcher, and then add the other stretcher, guiding the pipes into the holes. Rotate the pipes by hand a few turns to spread the adhesive. Lay the assembly on a flat surface to cure.

Step 6

Place the arbor ends in position flush with the outside faces of the stretchers. Measure for equal diagonals to verify a square frame. Now mount the arbor ends to the stretchers where shown using 6-in HeadLok screws. Wipe off any adhesive squeeze-out using a clean cloth.

Good to Know

The 6-in HeadLok screws used to assemble the arbor and bench 4x4s come with a “Spider” bit for driving the screws. It is not necessary to pre-drill pilot holes for the screws -- they’re designed to zip right in.

Assemble the Arbor

Step 1

To assemble the arbor posts (C) and pipes (two assemblies), first cut four 30-inch-long pieces from scrap 2x4s to use as braces. Then, with the same process used for the stretchers (A), assemble a pair of posts and pipes. After verifying they’re square, place two 2x4 braces across the faces of the posts, one at the top end and the other near the bottom pipe. (The exact location is not important.) Drive 3-in screws to attach the 2x4s to the posts. Repeat to assemble the remaining posts and pipes. Do not remove the braces.

Step 2

Using a helper, position the top frame and post assemblies on their sides (arbor horizontal) on a flat surface, ensuring the outside surfaces of the frame and posts are flush. Drive a pair of HeadLok screws through the arbor ends (B) and into the posts (C), where shown, making sure that you position the screws so that they clear the screws that attach the arbor ends to the front/back stretchers.

Install the Arbor

Step 1

On flat ground, mark the centers for the arbor postholes spaced 26-1/2 inches apart front to back and 68-1/2 inches apart from side to side.

Step 2

Using a posthole digger, dig 6-in-diameter holes, centered on the marked locations, 30 inches deep (this includes 6 inches for a drainage gravel base).

Step 3

Pour 6 inches of rock into each hole. With your partner, carefully set the arbor in place. Check and adjust the arbor for level, adding or removing rock as needed.

Step 4

Mix and fill the holes with concrete, sloping the cement at the top away from the post to promote water runoff. After the concrete cures, remove the 2x4 braces.

Step 5

Stain the arbor a color of your choice (Arboretum shown) following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Prepare the Bench Parts

Step 1

Referring to the Project Diagram and Cutting List, crosscut the bench front/back stretchers (D), bench ends (E), and bench legs (H) to length from pressure-treated 4x4s. From a pressure-treated 1x4, cut the bench seat slats (G) to length. Then, from a pressure-treated 2x2, cut the bench seat cleats (F) to size.

Step 2

Use a hacksaw or copper tube cutter to crosscut four pieces of 3/4-in copper pipe to 13-1/2 inches long.

Step 3

To mark centerpoints for the holes in the bench legs (H) to receive the copper pipes, position the legs with their faces tight together and the ends aligned. Using a carpenter’s square, draw lines across the width of the legs at the centerpoint locations. Separate the parts. Adjust a combination square to 1-3/4 inches (one-half the width of the 4x4s). Now draw lines across the centerlines to complete the centerpoints.

Step 4

Using a 7/8-in spade bit in your drill, bore 1/2 inch deep holes into the legs at the centerpoints.

Assemble the Bench

Step 1

To assemble the bench legs (H) and copper pipes, squeeze a small amount of Liquid Nails interior/exterior construction adhesive into the holes in a pair of legs. Insert two pipes into the holes in one leg, and then add the other leg, guiding the pipes into its holes. Rotate the pipes by hand a few turns to spread the adhesive. To ensure a square assembly, position it face down on a flat surface. Place a bench seat slat (G) between the legs at each end as a spacer, and clamp the assembly squarely together. Wipe off any adhesive squeeze-out using a clean cloth. Leave the assembly clamped together for at least 10 minutes so that the adhesive sets. Repeat to assemble the remaining legs and pipes.

Step 2

To assemble the bench seat, use a combination square to draw alignment marks on the inside faces of the bench front/back stretchers (D) 3/4-inch from the top faces for aligning the bench seat cleats (F), where shown. Mount the cleats to the stretchers, keeping their ends flush, using 3-in deck screws.

Step 3

Mount the bench ends (E) to the stretchers to complete the seat frame using 6-in HeadLok screws. Position the seat slats (G) on the seat cleats (F), spacing the slats 1/2-inch apart. Drive a pair of 1-5/8-in deck screws through the slats at each end into the cleats.

Step 4

On a flat surface, position the leg assemblies on end and place the seat frame on the assemblies, ensuring the outside surfaces of the frame and legs are flush. Drive a pair of HeadLok screws through the bench ends (E) and into the legs (H) where shown. Position the screws so that they clear the screws that attach the bench ends to the front/back stretchers.

Step 5

Stain the bench a color of your choice (Arboretum shown) following the manufacturer’s instructions.