Learn how to build an outdoor garden bench

Trish, Team member
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Project Overview

An outdoor bench makes every garden look complete and you can make one yourself. We’ll take you through the tools and simple steps required to build a solid and attractive outdoor bench without using nails or screws. 
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Writing measurements
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Easy tip for writing measurements

When you are working on a big job, it’s important to write down your measurements as you go. To save yourself time, write each measurement where you are working with a pencil. That way you will always know which number is which and where you can find it when you need it.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Get your timber pre-cut
2 Make a box joint
3 Create a template for the rods
4 Drill the holes in the legs
5 Glue and clamp the legs
6 Scrape off excess glue
7 Build the top of the bench
8 Assemble the bench
9 Sand the bench
10 Stain the bench
  • Step 1. Get your timber pre-cut

    After you have chosen the timber, you can get the timber pre-cut at selected Bunnings stores. You can always customise the bench to suit any size space. In this case our finished bench is 500mm high x 1890 long x 405mm wide. That means we need 10 x 1800mm lengths for the bench and 10 x 500mm and 10 x 410mm lengths for the legs.

     TIP: Straight timber makes for a straight bench. When choosing your timber, look down the length for any cupping (side-to-side curve) or crowning (up-down curve). If you spot either of these, put those pieces back.

  • Step 2. Make a box joint

    Line up 5 pieces of both the long and short timber you cut for the legs next to each other. Make sure you alternate the lengths between the long 500mm and short 410mm pieces. Before you start gluing, organise the pieces so you can see how they will fit together.

  • Step 3. Create a template for the rods

    To make drilling holes for the rods easier, make a template with a 90mm x 45mm piece of timber. This is to make sure your holes are in exactly the same location at either end. When creating your template, use a 35mm spade bit to the depth of the cap, then continue through with a 22mm spade bit. Then repeat this process for the second rod.

  • Step 4. Drill the holes in the legs

    Clamp one of the 500mm pieces of timber for the legs onto the saw horse. Put the template in place and drill two holes into the timber. Make sure you keep the drill straight as you do this, it will make it easier to insert the rod. Repeat this step for all of the 500mm pieces of timber for your legs.

  • Step 5. Glue and clamp the legs

    Put glue on the sides of the timber. Then place them next to each other making sure they are flush. Use the clamp to secure them. Insert the rod through the holes and leave to dry overnight. 

  • Step 6. Scrape off excess glue

    After the glue has dried, scrape off any excess between the joints with a chisel. This will make it easier when it comes to sanding your outdoor bench.

  • Step 7. Build the top of the bench

    Repeat the above steps to build the top of the bench. 

  • Step 8. Assemble the bench

    Once the glue for the legs and the bench top have dried, it’s time to assemble the pieces. Lay the top of the bench on the saw horses and insert the legs into the box joint. Use a rubber mallet to tap the legs into place so that they’re flush. Insert the rods into the holes, using the mallet to push them through if you need. Put the caps on the ends of the rods. Use a socket wrench to tighten the caps.

  • Step 9. Sand the bench

    To give your outdoor bench a professional look, use the hand sander to smooth over the surface and get rid of any splinters or excess glue. After you have sanded it back, wipe the bench down with a damp cloth to get rid of any dust.

  • Step 10. Stain the bench

    Depending on the look you want, you can either paint or stain it. Make sure you place a drop sheet below to stop any paint or stain from dripping onto the ground. A fibreglass resin will give your bench a glossy finish. Following the instructions on the tin, apply it with a paint brush and make sure your strokes go with the grain. 
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