- Ideas & How-Tos
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This easy-to-build bench works great in indoor and outdoor spaces.
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Set a new benchmark for style with this simple woodworking project. Use the Finished Dimensions to make sure the bench will fit in the desired location. If it is too long, you can easily make it shorter by adjusting the lengths of the stretchers (A) and slats (C).
From one 8-foot 1x4 pine board, crosscut the stretchers (A) to the specified length. From two 8-foot 1x4 pine boards, cut the rails (B) and back slats (D) to the specified lengths (Cutting List).
To make sure both ends of each part are square and to remove any mill-applied sealers or markings, cut both ends when trimming the parts to finished length.
From one 8-foot and one 4-foot 1x6 pine boards, crosscut the seat slats (C) to the specified lengths.
From one 4-foot 1x4 pine board, crosscut the uprights (E) to the specified lengths.
Sand all the parts with 150-grit sandpaper. Ease the edges by hand sanding with a sanding block and 150-grit sandpaper.
Lay out the stretchers (A) and rails (B) in the configuration shown (Base Assembly). Mark centerlines for pocket-screw holes on the inside faces of the stretchers and rails, where dimensioned. When locating the pocket holes on the rails, make sure you have two right-hand rails and two left-hand rails. Because the front seat slat (C) overhangs the front stretcher and the rear seat slat fits flush with the rear stretcher, the pocket screw holes in the rails aren't symmetrically located (Rail Detail). The left and right rails are mirror images and are not interchangeable. Mark the rail front ends. Drill the pocket holes, following the jig manufacturer's instructions.
Align the rail ends flush with the ends of the stretchers (A) and drive 1-1/4-inch pocket screws. Make sure the marked rail ends face the same direction.
Tip: To align the corners, clamp a 1x4 cutoff to the rail (B), position the stretcher (A), and clamp a second cutoff to the first to hold the stretcher tight to the rail end and flush with the outside face.
Now position the remaining rails (B), where dimensioned (Base Assembly), and drive 1 -1/4-inch pocket screws.
Tip: Clamp a 1x4 cutoff to the stretchers (A) to hold the rails (B) in place when driving the pocket screws.
Lay three seat slats (C) on the workbench, inserting 1/4-inch spacers made from scrap wood between the seat slats. Align the seat slat ends. Place the stretcher (A)/rail (B) frame on the seat slats centered side-to-side with the rear stretcher and flush with the back edge of the rear slat. Mark the positions of the rails on the seat slats with a pencil and remove the frame. Apply thin beads of glue to the seat slats, centered between the marks. Carefully reposition the frame on the slats. Fasten the slats to the frame with 1-1/4-inch pocket screws. To keep the parts from shifting, secure the assembly to your workbench with clamps or place several heavy objects such as concrete blocks or gallon cans of paint on the frame.
Mark pocket-screw-hole centerlines on adjacent faces of the square block at the top of each leg, where dimensioned (Leg Detail), and drill the pocket holes. Apply glue to the opposite faces and clamp the legs into the inside corners of the seat frame. Secure the legs to the frame with 1-1/4-inch pocket screws.
Lay the back slats (D) on the workbench, inserting 1/4-inch spacers made from scrap wood between the back slats. Align the back slat ends. Position the uprights (E) on the back slats with one upright centered; position the others 3-1/4-inch in from the slat ends with the upright ends flush with the edge of the top slat, as shown (Back Assembly).
Mark the positions of the uprights on the slats and remove the uprights. Apply glue to the slats between the marks. Replace the uprights and clamp them in place. Drill countersunk 5/32-inch holes in the uprights where shown, including the holes for the screws that later will fasten the uprights (E) to the rear seat stretcher (A). Fasten the uprights to the slats with #8 x 1-1/4-inch Phillips head flathead wood screws.
When drilling holes for the 1-1/4-inch screws, drill only through the uprights (E). Driving the screws into the soft pine back slats (D) without pilot holes increases the holding power of the screws. Be careful not to overdrive the screws.
Position the bench back on the seat and clamp it in place. Then position the brackets 1-3/4-inch in from the slat (C and D) ends and clamp them in place (Finishing Assembly). Use a pencil to mark the locations of the uprights (E) on the rear stretcher (A) and the brackets (F) on the slats. Remove the bench back and brackets. To protect the glue surfaces from paint, apply masking tape to the bottom inside faces of the uprights, the bottom and back faces of the brackets, and the marked areas of the stretcher and slats. Keep the masking tape 1/8-inch from the edges of the uprights and brackets and the pencil lines.
Examine all the parts and assemblies, re-sand where necessary, and vacuum off the dust. Place the bench seat upside down on a pair of sawhorses and apply one coat of Valspar interior latex primer following the manufacturer's instructions. To ensure paint-free handling when flipping the seat to prime the top surfaces, do not coat the outside faces of the end rails (B) or the protruding slat (C) ends. With the bottom surfaces and legs primed, enlist a helper to flip the seat and place it on a drop cloth. Prime the top. Now prime the bench back, back side first, and brackets.
To provide "standoffs" to keep the wet paint from sticking to the drop cloth when you flip the seat to paint the top, drive a 1-1/4-inch pocket screw into the bottom of each leg, leaving 1/2 inch protruding.
Following the same procedures you used when applying the primer, apply two coats of Valspar Ultra Premium paint. (We selected the color Gold Infusion.)
Remove the screws from the bottoms of the legs and the masking tape from the stretcher, slats, uprights, and brackets. Apply glue to the uprights, reposition the bench back on the seat, and clamp it in place. Secure the uprights to the stretcher with #8 x 1-1/4-inch Phillips head flathead wood screws. Apply glue to the masked areas on the seat and back slats (C and D), reposition the brackets, and clamp them in place. Drill countersunk 5/32-inch holes in the seat and back slats (C and D). Secure the brackets to the slats with #8 x 1-1/4-inch Phillips head flathead wood screws. Paint the screw heads.