Garden Bench

Submitted by Lady Goats on Tue, 03/22/2011 - 18:51
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This is a great, deep bench to lounge on outside. I built it to the measurements of my love seat. If you're going to paint, it's easier to paint this before assembling.

40" H, 50" W, 27" D


Shopping List

7 - 2x3x8

1 - 2x4x8
1 - 2x6x8
2 - 2x2x8 
Common Materials
2 inch screws
3 inch screws
120 grit sandpaper
Cut List
4 - 2x2 @ 21'' (seat supports)
1 - 2x2 @ "about" 29 1/2'' - measure YOURS before cutting

8 - 2x3 @ 47'' (7 seat slats and 1 bottom support beam)

4 - 2x3 @ 19'' (2 side aprons and 2 bottom leg supports)
2 - 2x3 @ 27'' (arm rests)
2 - 2x3 @ 40'' (Back Legs)
2 - 2x3 @ 30'' (front legs)
2 - 2x4 @ 47'' (front and back apron)
2 - 2x6 @ 47'' (back beams)
Cutting Instructions

Most cuts are self explanatory, but note that a seat support beam needs to be "worked with".

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Circular Saw
Miter Saw
Drill Bit Set
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Attach supports to front and back aprons, half an inch from the bottom. The two middle supports should be 21'' apart. I didn't measure the other two, but you could put them at the ends. That would probably have been the smartest thing for me to do.
I forgot to measure a half inch up in the diagram above, but the 2x2s need to be half an inch up. I used a 1/2'' square dowel to support it as I drilled in from the front and back apron.

Step 2

Measure the diagonal of YOUR bench and cut the diagonal support beam to fit. Parallel 45 degree angles would have been easier, but I did two 45 angles at each end to fit into the corner.

Step 3

Attach the seat slats from the bottom with 2 inch screws. Space approx 3/4'' apart and then eyeball their spacing from there.

Step 4

I repeated the first part of this step - oops! The aprons are already there, so ignore that part and just attach the legs. Measure 20'' from the bottom of each leg and that is where the top of the seat should go. Use three 2'' screws per leg (two into the seat and one into the apron)

Step 5

Step 6

Attach bottom leg supports by pre-drilling through the front of each leg. Measure 10'' from the bottom, and the top of the beam should sit there.
Use two 3'' screws per leg.

Step 7

Screw the bottom beam to leg supports using 2'' screws. Use 2 screws per side (grab a stray kid to help)

Step 8

Notch out the arm rests as shown above. This should be to the exact dimensions of your 2x3, so measure your board first. Mine happened to fit perfectly into the dimensions shown.
Pre-drill through the side and screw into the back leg using two 2'' screws. Screw from the top into the front leg (2 screws).

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Project Type


Lady Goats

Sun, 12/11/2011 - 11:59

Clay, I had to go out into the garage to make sure it was Poly that I used on a bench, because you really had me questioning myself! In fact, I was using poly... and it's ok! I definitely recommend that in every case, you research the finish for your project, and should've specified it in my comment above, but I have an exterior grade poly. The "Zar Ultra Exterior", which specifies uses for "marine (above water-line) surfaces, fences, outdoor furniture, exterior doors, and other wood surfaces exposed to direct sunlight."

So, if anyone does choose to go with poly, make sure it is an exterior grade. I haven't had a problem at all with mine. Well... except that it skins over... Have any suggestions for that, Clay?


Sun, 12/11/2011 - 19:28

I'm not sure what to do about that. I just keep the stuff sealed, but I haven't used an exterior grade poly in a long time, and that was spar urethane, which has a very different formulation.

I have started pouring my poly into a small glass jar and thinning it 1:1 with mineral spirits. It improves the flow so that I don't get brush strokes. It also lets me seal the can of poly up right away which should reduce the skinning.

Coley (not verified)

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 13:36

Ok this may sound stupid but I can't find 2x3s at the box store. Can I sub it for 2x4s or should I buy twice as many 1 x3s and glue n' screw them together?

In reply to by Coley (not verified)

Lady Goats

Sat, 02/18/2012 - 19:08

Sorry for the WAAAY delayed response! I didn't see this, :-/

Your store definitely has 2x3s. I promise!!! :-) You'll just have to look for them by the studs. I can't find 2x3s online at my local blue, but (sure enough), they're located near the 2x4s.


Sun, 04/08/2012 - 10:31

This bench was perfect for our front porch, but after I bought all the lumber I realized how big and substantial it would be. So, I slimmed it down and swapped out the following: seat slats 1x2, posts and supports 2x2, arms 1x3, backrest 1x6, aprons 2x3. Looks great and feels like a better fit for our porch. Enjoying the afternoon sun in style now, thanks!

Michelle Funk (not verified)

Sat, 06/09/2012 - 19:49

I'd like to make this bench a little more narrow (by about 4 inches). If I adjust the length of slats (seat and back) and back/front aprons will I be good to go?

Thiru (not verified)

Mon, 08/13/2012 - 07:47

Brilliant bench and comprehensive plans. Thank you so much.
Just a question on your comment in step 1 :
"I forgot to measure a half inch up in the diagram above, but the 2x2s need to be half an inch up." (this refers to the seat upports.
If the seat slats are going to be "flush" or aligned with the top of the front and back aprons, and these seat slats are 2X3s, surely the seat supprts need to be 2 inches up in the diagram and not half an inch up? Please clarify, I am just a beginner.

In reply to by Thiru (not verified)

Lady Goats

Mon, 08/13/2012 - 09:51

The measurement was correct. I chose to put them 1/2" up because it seemed like it would be easier for people to manage, but that is indeed "upside down". If you wanted to do it from the other side, you would put it 1 1/2" up (that's the actual dimension of the "2" in 2x3).
What you could do instead is to put the 2x3s underneath so that it'll be flush on the top, and screw from there.
If I only managed to confuse you in my answer, just note that it really is 1/2" - as confusing as it seems :-)