Build a Garden Bench in an Hour

Every garden could use a few more places to sit. Perhaps you have an out-of-the-way nook that could benefit from a simple perch for visitors to rest on, or maybe your neighborhood barbecues have outgrown your patio set. In either case, a simple homemade garden bench is a fitting solution.

This classic little 4-foot-long bench is inexpensive and easy to construct with just a few basic tools. It costs less than $30 in materials and will take about an hour to build. And I think that once you see the result, you’ll want to make half a dozen more.

Click to enlarge


Tape measure



Circular saw (optional)

Speed square

Electric drill with screwdriver bit


Two 4-foot-long 1x6s

Two 16-inch-long 2x12s

Two 11¼-inch-long 2x2s

Two 4-foot-long 2x8s

Twelve 2½-inch-long stainless-
steel decking screws

Eight 1¾-inch-long stainless-
steel decking screws


Plans for Assembling Your Bench

1 | Make the special cuts

For the tapered ends of the face boards, use a speed square to mark off 45-degree triangles on each end of the 1x6s. To make the cutouts in the legs, mark a triangle in the center of the bottom edge of each 2×12. Using the speed square as a guide, cut out the triangles (photo); if you’re using a circular saw, you’ll need to finish cutting the leg notches with a handsaw.

2 | Attach the fastening bars

On one side of each leg, position a fastening bar flush with the top of the board, and attach it with two 2½-inch-long screws, approximately 1½ inches from each end.

3 | Space the legs, and attach the face boards

Rest both leg boards on their sides on a flat work surface, with the fastening bars facing each other. Place a face board on the side of the legs, and adjust the leg spacing so that the shorter edge of the face board is flush with the outside of each leg. Attach the face board to the legs with 1¾-inch-long screws. Flip the legs over, and attach the second face board in the same fashion.

4 | Position the seat and legs

Place the 2x8s side by side on your work surface, and use the edge of the speed square to create a gap between the boards. Make sure the ends of the boards line up perfectly. Lay the leg assembly on the seat boards, upside down, and center it.

5 | Secure the legs to the seat

Attach the leg assembly to the seat boards by screwing through the fastening bars to the seat boards with four 2½-inch-long screws on each side.

6 | Dress it up

I chose a semitransparent, weatherproofing, Bordeaux-colored stain to create a pop of color in my garden. You could use any color you like, or let the bench weather naturally.

Make it last

You should get years of use out of this bench without much fuss. But like all wooden outdoor furniture, it won’t last forever; the wood will eventually deteriorate. Wood’s worst enemy is moisture, and the bench is most vulnerable where the legs come in contact with the moist ground. To make the bench last longer, simply place a small paver under each of the legs.

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