There's nothing quite like kickin' it in the old backyard on a lazy Sunday afternoon -- or Saturday or Tuesday, if you're so inclined. That's right, sitting back and enjoying the fruits of your labor without having to worry about pesky issues like office memos and mortgage payments for at least an hour or two. The experience is even more rewarding when you do your relaxing on something you built with your own to hands. A basic backyard bench is easy and inexpensive to build. Here's what you need (with special thanks to Jay's Custom Creations):
- Eight 8-foot (2.4-meter) 2x4s
- 24 2.5- inch (6-centimeter) outdoor screws
- 21 2.5-inch (6-centimeter) outdoor pocket hole screws
- Outdoor wood glue
- Saw (hand, circular, jig or miter saw will work)
As in many basic woodworking projects, the hardest part is cutting the lumber in the appropriate shapes and sizes. Grab a saw and lay out the eight 2x4s, with the smooth side down. Now, see how much grammar school geometry you remember.
Getting the Pieces Ready
Start by cutting four of the 2x4s in half, so that each piece is 48 inches (1.2 meters) in length. Cut an additional 2x4 in half and take 8 inches (20 centimeters) off of just one of those pieces so that you have another 48-inch slat and one 40-inch (1-meter) board.
On another 2x4, mark off 40 inches and use that piece to cut two trapezoids, each 20 inches (50 centimeters) in length at the base and with 15-degree angles on each side. Use the rest of this 2x4 to cut three parallelograms that are 17 inches (42 centimeters) in length and also feature 15-degree angles.
Cut your seventh 2x4 into four pieces. The first is a 31-inch (79-centimeter) long slat with a 90-degree angle on the left side and a 15-degree angle on the right side. Make the next two pieces trapezoids that are 23.75 inches (60 centimeters) at the base and have 15-degree angles. The last piece should be a 17-inch long parallelogram, also with 15-degree angles. Finally, saw the last 2x4 into another 31-inch long board with a 90-degree angle on one side and a 15-degree angle on the other.
Now you're ready to start putting the bench together.
Assembling the Bench
Your bench needs legs, which in this case are two trapezoids, each of which include four separate pieces of those freshly cut 2x4s. The legs are the two 17-inch boards connected at the top by the 20-inch boards and at the center by 23.75-inch boards.
Connect the ends of the 20-inch boards to the 17-inch boards with wood glue, followed by screws. Then connect the 23.75-inch boards 4 inches (10 centimeters) below. Do this twice and you should have two A-shaped legs that will form the ends of the bench.
Next grab the 31-inch boards, which will be used as back supports. These boards should be screwed and glued to the lower horizontal slat of each A-shape that you just created and should intersect at the top corner of the A. The angle of the intersection is up to you; just make sure that it's the same on each side.
Now you can connect the two A's together with the 40-inch 2x4 (the seat stretcher) by gluing and screwing it to both the bottom horizontal boards of the A and the bottom ends of the back supports where they connect with the horizontal boards.
It's now time (already!) for the final step. All that hard work so far would pretty much be for naught if no one can actually sit on the bench. So, you'd better lay the seat.
Laying the Seat
Drill the 48-inch 2x4s into place starting at the back, where it's important to be sure that the first slat is connected to the back support. Leave a quarter-inch (6-millimeter) space between the slats, which you can create using a standard pencil as a spacer.
The back slats are attached the same way, but with a half-inch or 13-millimeter (Sharpie marker-sized) gap between the first back slat and the bench and quarter-inch spaces for the rest of the back.
Finished? Good. You've earned the right to take a seat.
Bates, Jay. "How to Build a Comfortable 2x4 Bench and Side Table." Jay's Custom Creations. June 29, 2013 (April 8, 2014) http://jayscustomcreations.com/2013/06/free-plans-2x4-outdoor-bench