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How to Build a Basic Garden Bench

House One’s Jenn Largesse demonstrates how to build a DIY bench for your garden.

Inspired by a French antique, this colorful bench has a modern simplicity—and easily seats two. Solid stain gives the stock pine lumber an added layer of protection from the elements.

Its soft green blends in with verdant surroundings, but you could also go bolder with red or yellow to add contrast.

Steps for Building a Garden Bench:

Follow these directions for building your DIY garden bench.

Step 1: Cut the Boards to Length

Cut the Boards to Length

Using a miter saw and the cut list above, cut the 2x12 board to size to create the seat, stringer and leg pieces. Cut the 1x3 board to length to create the trim pieces.

Step 2: Mark the Detail on the Legs

Mark the Detail on the Legs

On the leg pieces, measure and make a mark along the bottom edge 4 inches from each side. Make an additional mark 5½ inches from the base of each leg, centered on the width of each board. Draw lines between the marks to create the outline of the triangular cutouts.

Step 3: Cut the Detail on the Legs

Using a jigsaw, cut the outline marked in Step Two.

Using a jigsaw, cut the outline marked in Step Two. (Tip: For a straighter cut, first cut the lines with a circular saw, and then finish cutting the tip of each notch with a jigsaw.)

Step 4: Size the Stringer

Jenn Largesse builds a simple garden bench.

Using a circular saw, rip 3¼ inches from the width of the stringer. (Note: you can also leave this board as full width, though the stringer will hang lower to the ground between the legs for a more hefty look.)

Step 5: Add the Stringer between the Legs

Jenn Largesse builds a simple garden bench.

Apply wood glue to the ends of the 2x12 stringer. Position the board on edge between the legs with the trimmed edge flush with each top edge of each leg. Drill two pilot holes through each leg and into the ends of the stringer. Drive 3-inch wood screws through the pilot holes and into the stringer to secure the pieces.

Step 6: Attach the Seat to the Base

Jenn Largesse builds a simple garden bench.

Apply wood glue to the top of the legs and stringer. Position the seat board flat on the base flush with its sides, and with equal overhang of 4½ inches on each end. Drill two pilot holes through the seat and into each leg and three pilot holes through the seat and into the stringer. Drive 3-inch deck screws through the seat and into the legs and stringer.

Step 7: Prep the Seat Trim

Jenn Largesse builds a simple garden bench.

Make a mark on each end of the 1x3 trim pieces that’s 1½ inches from the top edge. Using the mark as a guide, clip the rest of the bottom corner at 45-degrees on the miter saw.

Step 8: Attach the Seat Trim

Jenn Largesse builds a simple garden bench.

Apply wood glue to the sides of the 2x12 seat. Position the trim flush with the top edge of the seat, and with the clipped corners facing downward. Drill three pilot holes through each trim piece, and then connect the trim to the seat using 2-inch screws.

Step 9 : Apply the Finish

Jenn Largesse builds a simple garden bench. Jenn Largesse

Fill all the screw holes with exterior-grade wood filler. Sand the assembly smooth. Apply two coats of exterior wood stain and let dry before use.


What You Need for This Project:

Drawing of garden bench

Materials

  • 2x12x10’ Board
  • 1x3x6’ Board
  • Exterior Wood Glue
  • 3-inch Exterior Deck Screws
  • 2-inch Exterior Deck Screws
  • Exterior Wood Filler
  • Sandpaper
  • Exterior Wood Stain

Cut List

  • 2x12 Seat – 1 @ 42 inches
  • 2x12 Stringer – 1 @ 30 inches
  • 2x12 Legs – 2 @ 16½ inches
  • 1x3 Trim – 2 @ 42 inches

Tools: