DIY Garden Benches
Enjoy Building Your Own Outdoor Furniture
A place to sit and relax can add greatly to the enjoyment of your backyard, garden or flower beds. A garden bench is one answer and also a fun workshop project. Garden benches, as seen by the examples here, can range from classic designs requiring a fair amount of materials and woodworking expertise to simple slab benches that require little effort, can be built from scrounged materials and add a “rustic” appeal to yards.
Classic Garden Bench
The classic garden bench is a composite of the many garden benches I’ve built over the years. This bench is constructed of red cedar that was cut, sawn on a TimberKing band saw mill, and cured from our farm. Other good softwoods for the project include redwood, Western white cedar and cypress. The hardwoods, such as oak or ash will also make a classic bench.
First step is to cut the legs to the correct length. Then cut the seat support pieces to length. Enlarge the squared drawing for the shape of their tops. Transfer this pattern to the stock and cut to shape using a saber saw or band saw. Attach the end seat support pieces to the insides of the legs. Hold a carpenter’s square against the joints and make sure the legs are square with the seat support pieces. Note: Regardless of the species of material being used, all holes should be predrilled and/or countersunk to prevent splitting out the material and to seat the screw heads below the wood surface. The screws can be left exposed or you may wish to countersink them deeper and cut wood plugs to cover. Enlarge the squared drawing for the arm rests. Transfer to the stock and cut to shape. Then fasten the arm rests down on the tops of the legs.
Trace the armrest pattern onto your wood of choice and cut with a band saw.
Cut the front and rear seat supports, ripping them to the correct width and cutting to length. Fasten between the leg assemblies. Then cut the center seat support. Note: The center seat support is notched to fit over a front strengthener piece. Cut the strengthener and fit between the leg assemblies, then fasten the center seat support in place. Cut the 45-degree-angle seat braces and install them in place. Then rip the seat slats to the correct widths. Note the first three front slats are 1-inch wide in order to fit over the front curve of the seat supports. The remainder of the slats are1-1/2 inches wide. Fit the seat boards in place, fastening them down to the seat supports.
Cut the back side supports on a band saw. Cut notches in their front edges for the back slat supports. Rip the slat supports and fit them into the notches in the back side supports. Fasten the side supports in place between the back legs. Cut the slats to length and width, and then cut the shaped upper ends on a band saw. Install the slats over the slat supports, spacing them 1/2-inch apart. It’s a good idea to mark all slat locations before installing any slats. If the spaces are not exactly even, you can shift slightly before fastening the slats in place.
Add a coat or two of exterior finish, and you’re ready to enjoy a classic garden bench.