Build a Simple Outdoor Bench

Submitted by Ana White on Fri, 04/23/2010 - 20:27
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A touch of contemporary to your outdoor space. This easy to build bench features a slatted top. Use indoors and out, as dining seating or just a bench to rest on outdoors.

Somebody's gonna say it.  Somebody's gonna whisper, she's forgotten where she's from.  She thinks she lives in Hollywood now.  And they are so right.  Despite plans for ice fishing this weekend, I'm designing plans for eating grilled fish on in the California sun.  I am so loving outdoor furniture right now, I could very possibly have forgotten I live in Alaska.

You've got the table, and now it's time for the matching bench.  Like the table, I found much inspiration from West Elm's Wood Slat Long Bench, loving the modern simplicity of this style.  I especially love simple clean lines outdoors because you are contrasting against the natural organic shapes of the outdoors.

If you are intimidated by the size of the table, starting with the bench is a good idea.  Not only will you have an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them, the investment (time and moneywise) is considerably less.  Also, the bench could serve a variety of other purposes besides as a dining area seating surface.  Think holding planters, elevating plants for sunshine, or just a simple reading spot.


Shopping List

Shopping List

4 – 1×3 Boards
4 – 1×4 Boards
2″ Screws
1 1/4″ Screws
Wood Glue
Wood Filler or Paintable Silicone Sealant


Measuring Tape

Common Materials
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

Cut List

2 – 1×3 @ 49 1/4″ (Seat Supports)
2 – 1×3 @ 13″ (End Aprons)
2 – 1×3 @ 50 3/4″ (Side Aprons)
14 – 1×4 @ 11″ (Seat Slats)
2 – 1×4 @ 52 1/4″ (Seat Sides)
4 – 1×4 @ 17 1/4″ (Legs)

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
General Instructions

General Instructions. It is a good idea to sand and finish your boards (paint or stain) before constructing to seal all edges. Work on a clean levels surface. Mark out your joints before fastening joints. Predrill and countersink your screws before attaching. Use glue unless otherwise specified. Check for square after each step. And please work safe and smart, using proper safety equipment.


Step 1

Build the Frame. Begin by fastening the blue supports to the yellow ends using 2″ screws and glue. Then fasten the green aprons to the yellow aprons as shown above, using 2″ screws and glue. Square up your frame by taking a diagonal measurement, and adjusting the square until both measurements are equal.

Step 2

Bench Slats. Mark the slat boards 1″ from the ends on both ends. Also mark two of the boards 3/4″ in on the outer edge. These are your outer boards. Line these boards up on the ends, overhang of 3/4″ as shown above and screw to side aprons and supports. Fasten the remaining slats to the top, as shown above, leaving a 1/4″ gap between the boards. Use the 1″ marks to line up with the outer edge of the support underneath. It may help you to use the board from step 3 as a guide when lining up your slats.

Step 3

Sides of Bench Top. Mark the bench top boards as shown above, 1 3/4″ in from the sides, 3/4″ from the ends. Use 2″ screws to fasten to the side and end aprons.

Step 4

Legs. Use the 1 1/4″ screws to fasten the legs to the aprons, as shown above. Then fasten from the seat sides top into the tops of the legs with 2″ screws and glue.

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ashley.zel (not verified)

Mon, 08/23/2010 - 07:42

My husband and I (mostly my husband) just finished building two of these benches. Love them. But we couldn't find treated 1x3's and we live in an area where there are estimated to be 6 swarms of termites per acre. We've found two swarms on our little bit of land in the last year (luckily not on our home! Keep your termite bonds up to date!) so we had no desire to put wood outside that wasn't pre treated (just in case we missed a spot sealing it).

All of that said...using only 1x4's we had no problems.

Great plan and easy to understand. Can't wait to build our next project.

Thank you!

Jasmine (not verified)

Fri, 01/07/2011 - 12:56

Hi Ana, I have been wanting something like this for our outdoor patio for a while now, so we are going to have a go at building two of these benches.
Thanks for the plans, lots of inspiration here.


Sun, 04/17/2011 - 04:44

Hi All,

I am SO excited to get started on this patio set. I have a question about the legs. Some pictures show 2 pieces of wood for each leg that make a corner, but the plans show just 1 piece. Is there a reason? Is just 1 price for each leg not as sturdy? We are a fairly stocky family and I want to make sure the bench will hold up. 


Tue, 04/26/2011 - 19:46

After looking at outdoor furniture to replace our old set and getting sticker shock. I am so happy this site shows us how to make great looking stuff! Now to get started on this and the table....then BBQ time!

angie b (not verified)

Tue, 05/24/2011 - 21:02

hi, Im new here...what type of paint and how many coats? first project..this site is unbelievable cool!

In reply to by angie b (not verified)


Wed, 05/25/2011 - 08:34

For this you probably want some variety of outdoor deck stain or paint. The number of coats will depend on how dark you want it and manufacturer recommendations.

angie b (not verified)

Wed, 05/25/2011 - 22:44

the slats are screwed from underneath right? i'm building it right now and don't see the screws on the top of the bench

gka (not verified)

Tue, 07/05/2011 - 21:59

Love this site! Quick question... do you feel the 1x4 legs offer enough weight support if the people sitting down are larger? I was thinking about either lengthening the frame to accommodate 2x4 legs or even a 4x4 with a square notched out for the frame to sit in. I also wonder about the 2x2 on the stackable chairs. I just don't know enough about weight loads and wouldn't want it to break on anyone.