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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Rachel Wright (not verified)

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 08:55

Hi! My husband built this bench for me yesterday. I love it! The instructions were so easy and well written that he didn't have a stitch of trouble. Because the space we needed it for was a little too short for the measurements you gave, we did shorten it a bit and we modified the legs slightly for stability (I knew it would get a lot of wear and tear.)

In fact, I love it so much now that I decided it needed storage as well. I considered several possibilities and settled on a kind of "drawer" to go under it. It's essentially a box with wheels and a couple simple handles on the front. I'd like to put the design on Instructables and reference your bench so that people can make that if they like to go with it. May I link to this article on your site in my set of instructions?

Thanks for taking the time to read this comment.

Cassey (not verified)

Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:24

This is my first project and I'm trying to envision it before starting, but I have a question. I'm curious how people filled in all the holes from the screws. Many of them are drilled down from the top of the table, right? I can't see evidence of that in any of the pictures even though most are stained. I want to use stain, not paint, but in my experience the fillers don't really match when stained over (even the stainable ones). Have people used fillers that specifically match the stain or does the stain just cover that well? Thanks for any help!!


Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:48

The easiest way to hide the screw holes is to come from underneath. You can do it with a pocket screw. Another easy alternative is to use a dowel pin instead of screws. A bit more labor intensive but no screws to hide. You just need to make sure you use a waterproof glue (titebond III would be a first pass).

LEM (not verified)

Fri, 08/03/2012 - 08:44

These plans are exactly what I need but I am going to use them for a TV stand for my overly large TV. THIS IS PERFECT!!!!


Thu, 03/07/2013 - 15:03

Anna - at the picture at the top .. it looks like the legs are built different. It looks like a 2x4 inside the frame. Is that correct? Did you use a bolt or other hardware in the inside frame to make the bench fold-able?


Sat, 06/29/2013 - 11:12

Yeah, I'm in the middle of assembling this puppy, and have 5 "extra" seat slats. The slats in the pics look like 1x3, not the 1x4 in the instructions. Since I am already deep into this process (and out of 1x3, and it doesn't structurally matter) I guess I'm soldiering on...

ETA: now that I'm done and I have a coffee table and not a bench...I realize I used 1x4 and 1x5. Super fail.


Sun, 07/21/2013 - 10:53

I am a beginner, trying to envision using the Kreg Jig to attach the slats. Any advice on pocket hole placement? Would I put pocket holes in the seat supports and screw the slats in from the bottom? Or do I put pocket holes in each end of the slats and attach them to the bench top?
Thank you!


Wed, 06/04/2014 - 11:45

This might be really obvious to everyone other than me, but how long do the boards need to be?
4 – 1×3 Boards
4 – 1×4 Boards

I'm planning on making the table to match too, and those plans had the board lengths listed. Not sure!



Sun, 02/12/2017 - 16:58

Just completed this project.  We are using it as mediation table that houses some plants and special items to us.  The design really suites our intent!  I did notice that the completion piture had an additional 1x4 as the legs, but the plans did not include them.  I'm unsure if there is a reason.  I think I may try to add them for additional suport and a more complete look.  It almost makes the table look it is sitting on a 4x4.  As always, thank you for the plans Ana!