How to Build a Patio Bench
This patio bench is just right for comfortable outdoor seating. The redwood is solid and maintenance-free; the bench can be disassembled for winter storage. Here's what you'll need.
Tools: measuring rule, pencil, carpenters' square, handsaw or power saw, 30/60-degree triangle or protractor, C-clamps, power drill with 3/8-inch bit and bit extension, adjustable wrench, hammer, nail set, block plane, belt sander or sanding block.
Materials: 4 × 4 and 2 × 4 redwood stock; 3/8 × 7-inch and 3/8 × 5-inch carriage bolts, flat washers, and locknuts; 6-penny and 16-penny brass or galvanized finishing nails; coarse-, medium-, and fine-grit sanding belts or sandpaper.
Time: about 4 hours.
Buy redwood stock and fastening hardware as specified above. To make the legs of the bench, measure and mark four pieces of 4 × 4 redwood to a length of 12 1/2 inches; use a carpenters' square to keep the ends even. Cut the legs as measured with a handsaw or a power saw. Measure, mark, and cut eight 2 × 4's for the leg cross braces. With a 30/60-degree triangle or a protractor, mark the ends of the braces to slant outward at a 30-degree angle, with the slanted edge on each end 30 degrees off-vertical at the top edge to form a trapezoid. Carefully cut the ends of the braces at the marked slant; keep the cuts as uniform as possible.
To assemble the legs, set a pair of braces on edge on a flat surface, long sides down. Set a 4 × 4 leg piece between the braces at each end, with the outside face of the 4 × 4 flush with the top corner of the slanted brace; the bottom corner of the brace should extend beyond the leg. Clamp the assembly together with C-clamps.
Drill a diagonal pair of 3/8-inch holes through each leg and brace joint, completely through the braces and the leg; use a power drill with a bit extension. Insert a 3/8 × 7-inch carriage bolt through each hole, outside to in, and thread a washer and a locknut onto each bolt; tighten the nuts with an adjustable wrench and remove the clamps. When all the bottom bolts are in place, turn the assembly upside down and repeat the procedure to fasten a second set of cross braces at the top of the legs, with the ends of the braces slanting in from the top toward the center of each leg. Assemble the second pair of legs the same way.
To brace the bench the long way, measure, mark, and cut a 2 × 4 to a length of 47 inches. In each end of this stretcher, drill a diagonal pair of 3/8-inch holes, centered 3/4 inch back from the end and 1 inch in from the sides. Set the leg assemblies opposite one another, in position to support the bench top. Lay the stretcher across the bottom leg braces, centered between the legs, its ends resting on the inside bottom leg braces.
Carefully adjust the position of the leg assemblies and mark holes in the top edges of the inside braces to correspond to the holes in the stretcher; drill 3/8-inch holes completely through the inside bottom braces at the marked points. Set the stretcher into place across the braces and insert a 3/8 × 5-inch carriage bolt into each drilled hole, through the face of the stretcher and completely through the brace below it. Thread a flat washer and a locknut onto each bolt and tighten the bolts with an adjustable wrench.
To make the bench top, measure and cut seven 2 × 4's to a length of 6 feet, and mark each one 6 inches in from each end. Set one 2 × 4 on edge across the two leg assemblies, with its outside face flush with the top corner of the brace's slanted edge on each end of the bench. Adjust the 2 × 4 lengthwise so that each end extends 6 inches past the leg assemblies; use the marks you made to get it into the correct position. Nail the 2 × 4 on edge to the leg assemblies with four 6-penny brass or galvanized finishing nails to secure it to the cross braces; toenail the 2 × 4 to the brace with two nails on one side and then two on the other. Hold the 2 × 4 firmly as you nail it down so that its long edge stays flush with the ends of the cross braces. Set the heads of the nails below the surface with a nail set.
Set the other six 2 × 4's into position across the top braces, on edge, with the long outside face of the last board flush with the top corners of the braces. Adjust the 2 × 4's to space them evenly across the top of the bench, with about 1 inch between boards. Position each successive board, nail it into place, and set the nail heads. Work across the bench to secure all seven 2 × 4's to the bench frame.
Finally, cap the bench ends. Measure the exact distance across the ends of the bench top, and measure and cut two pieces of 2 × 4 to this length; use a carpenters' square to keep the cuts even. Place the flat side of one 2 × 4 cap piece flat against the cut boards at one end of the bench top, with all surfaces flush. Using 16-penny brass or galvanized finishing nails, drive two nails through the face of the cap piece into the end of each bench-top 2 × 4; set the nail heads. Follow the procedure to cap the other end of the bench.
If desired, bevel the exposed edges of the bench slightly with a block plane. Round all exposed edges slightly with a belt sander and coarse-, medium-, and then fine-grit sanding belts; or sand by hand with a block. Leave the bench unfinished to weather naturally.
Next, get the step-by-step directions for another patio project -- a redwood umbrella table.
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