DIY Guide: How To Build a Garden Bench

DIY Guide: How To Build a Garden Bench

A garden isn’t complete without a place to sit and enjoy the flowers. When the sunny summer months are on their way, a wooden bench is just what you need to appreciate the blooms and foliage of your outdoor space.

We’ve got you covered if you’re on the lookout for new outdoor seating. 

We’ll show you how to build the perfect bench for your backyard garden. This easy DIY woodworking project will provide you with new skills and lovely new outdoor furniture.

We’ll go over the tools, materials, and costs of the project before jumping into step-by-step instructions for assembling the bench.

Tools and Materials Needed

Tools

  • Miter saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Circular saw
  • Drill 
  • Sandpaper

Materials

Costs Involved 

Building your own bench is an affordable project, especially if you already have some of the tools on hand. 

Don’t get overwhelmed by all the dollar signs if you’re a DIY beginner and don’t have any tools. You can rent power tools from home improvement and hardware stores for a fraction of the retail price. 

We’ve included costs for buying and renting tools to help you figure out the cost of your bench.

Tool or Material Average Cost
Miter saw $300 to buy

$50 for 24-hour rental

Jigsaw $100 to buy

$20 for 24-hour rental

Circular saw $250 to buy

$20 for 24-hour rental

Cordless drill $80 to buy

$25 for 24-hour rental

Sandpaper $10
Wood filler $10
Wood glue $7 for 18-ounce bottle
Screws  $10 for a 100-pack
Wood stain $50 per gallon
2-by-12-by-10 board $30 per board
1-by-3-by-6 board $8 per board

According to the rental fees and price estimates, this bench project will cost around $250. You can lower that price by selecting shorter rentals and smaller quantities of the required materials. Most garden benches retail at around $300 – so you’ll be saving money by building your own.

How To Build a Garden Bench

The following sections will provide a step-by-step tutorial on building a DIY garden bench. We’ll explain the woodworking skills you’ll need and the measurements for each material.

You’ll have a delightful wooden bench to share with garden visitors when you’re done.

Step One: Cut the Boards

The first step in building your bench is to cut the boards to the proper lengths. 

This simple design consists of five parts, which you can cut from one 2-by-12-by-10 board and two 1-by-3-by-6 boards.

Make precise, clean cuts by using the miter saw to divide the pieces of wood. 

Here’s the cut list:

Bench Part Instructions
Seat
    • Cut 42 inches of the 2-by-12-by-10 board. 
  • This will be the bench seat.
Legs
  • Cut two 16-inch lengths of the 2-by-12-by-10 board. 
  • These will be the bench’s legs.
Stringer
  • Cut a 30-inch length from the 2-by-12-by-10 board. 
  • Then, use the circular saw to rip three inches from the board’s width. 
  • This portion will be your bench’s stringer – the bit that hangs down under the seat board.
Trim
  • Cut two 42-inch lengths from 1-by-3-by-6 boards. 
  • These sections will attach to the front and back of the seat as trimming.

Step Two: Add Leg Details

This step involves cutting a wedge from the bench legs for a simple yet lovely detail. 

This step is optional, but we recommend it. The details are easy to cut and will enhance the bench’s appearance. You’ll also get hands-on experience with a jigsaw.

Prepare the legs by marking the outline of the detail.

Use a ruler to make marks 4 inches from each side of the board. Then, find the center between the two marks and make another mark 5 inches above it.

After measuring and marking the outlines, cut the wedge out of each leg with the jigsaw. Sand down any jagged edges for a clean cut.

Step Three: Attach the Legs to the Stringer

The stringer is the part of the bench that extends down from the seat and attaches to the legs, adding support and keeping the legs from collapsing in. 

The 2-by-12 board you cut to 9 inches wide will be the stringer. 

Prop the board on its long side and apply wood glue to both ends. You may want to use wood clamps to hold the parts together while the glue dries. Clamps will also help hold the bench still as you drill.

Attach the legs to each side of the board, ensuring that the board is in line with the point of the triangular leg details.

Drill pilot holes through the wood to make sure the screws will connect the correct parts. Pilot holes are necessary because they help the screws feed straight into the wood instead of slanting.

Drive 3-inch screws through the pilot holes to fasten the legs into the stringer. 

We recommend at least two screws on each side to ensure stability.

Step Four: Attach the Seat

Now, it’s time to attach the seat to the bench.

Apply wood glue to the tops of the legs and the stringer. Place the seat – the 42-inch-long piece of the 2-by-12 board – on top, ensuring each side has an equal overhang past the legs.

Make evenly spaced pilot holes across the top after placing the seat where you’d like. Then, attach the pieces by drilling screws through the seat into the stringer and legs.

Step Five: Prepare and Attach the Trim

The seat trim is the last part to add to the bench before the finishing touches. 

The two 42-inch-long portions of the 1-by-3 board are the trim. You’ll cut a beveled edge in each piece before attaching it to the seat. 

This step is optional, but we recommend it. Small details go a long way in this DIY project. 

All you have to do is cut the bottom corner off the ends of the trim board. 

Mark 1 ½  inches up from each corner of the board’s bottom edge. Then, cut the corner with the miter saw.

Repeat this cut four times so that the bottom corner of each trim board is beveled.

Now, you’ll attach the trim to the seat. Apply wood glue to each side of the seat and press on the trim so that the tops of the boards are flush. 

Drill four evenly spaced pilot holes on each side and secure the pieces with wood screws. 

Step Seven: Sand and Finish

You’ve officially finished constructing your garden bench. The last step is to add finishing touches and tie the project together. 

Fill each screw hole with exterior grade wood filler. This will remove any notches that could catch on clothing or skin.

Then, sand the entire surface of the bench, grinding away jagged edges and splinters. Make sure you sand the bottoms of the legs to sit flat and steady on the ground.

Next, apply a couple of coats of exterior wood stain to protect the wood from the elements and enhance the seat’s appearance.

We encourage you to get creative with this step. Choose a finish that matches your aesthetic and brightens your garden space. Or create a colorful bench with an array of paints and patterns.

Once everything has dried, you’re ready to add the bench to your garden and enjoy it for years to come.

Fun Ways to Spruce Up Your Bench

Here are some garden bench ideas to dress up your new backyard seat:

  • Set the bench against a retaining wall and add cushions as a backrest.
  • Build multiple benches to use as seating around a fire pit.
  • Place the bench between two planter boxes to surround yourself with lovely blooms.
  • Create this garden bench plan with larger pieces of wood to build a picnic table. Then use two regular benches for the seating.
  • Create a wooden coffee table by recreating this bench plan with a broader seat board and shorter legs.
  • Stain the wood with a rustic finish to create a farmhouse bench. Amp up the design with cushions to match your home decor. 
  • Install shelves between the legs to create a storage bench.

Final Thoughts

We’re sure you’ll enjoy building your outdoor bench as much as you love using it.

Once you’ve selected the perfect spot to put your new seat, you can decorate the area with flower pots, stones, and lighting. 

These special touches will transform your backyard living space into a true homemade haven.

With your new bench as a focal point, you’ll have a garden you never want to leave.

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