Measuring each piece


Because this bench is so linear, it’s important to ensure that all cuts are exact. Take your time up front to ensure smooth sailing during the build.

To prepare your wood, cut 1/8” off one end so you have a clean, straight edge. With this done, you are ready to set up a stop block and cut all of your pieces. (A stop block acts as your guide, guaranteeing every piece will be cut exactly the same.)

Pieces of cedar cut to size

To begin, you need seven 2” x 4” x 8’ of cedar. You can also use woods such as pressure-treated lumber or spruce, which are more budget friendly. The following is a cutting schedule; there may be other ways to do it, but this seems to work.

  • Number your seven 2 x 4s. Place your first 2 x 4 against the stop block that measures 48” from the saw blade and cut. Cut five more of the same for a total of six pieces from the first six 2 x 4s.

  • From the first five 2 x 4s, cut one 18” piece from each and cut five from the seventh.

  • From the first five 2 x 4s, cut ten 14-1/2” pieces. Cut the other two from the sixth.

  • Finally, cut five pieces at 3-1/2” from the scraps.

After I finish cutting, I like to sand everything as you will not be able to get your sander in between the bench slats after the project is assembled. (I recommend pre-assembling with clamps so you can visualize the end result before you put it together permanently. It also lets you know if you have made any cutting mistakes.)

Initial assembly


Take a 48” length of wood and glue and clamp an 18” piece to either end using a level to ensure it’s straight and aligned properly. Next, screw a 3-1/2” piece to the center of the 48” length. All joints should be clamped, glued and checked for level. Screw them together using 2” pressure treated screws.

Using a drill to screw the pieces together.

Take the 48” piece and glue, clamp and screw it to the two 18” pieces already assembled. Take a 14-1/2” piece and glue it to the 18” piece. Glue, clamp, screw and check that it’s level. Do the same with your 3-1/2” piece. After the first two layers, you can change over and use 2-1/2” to 3” screws for the remaining pieces. Once you are finished, it’s good to clamp your project for 24 hours.

Image left: Using a drill to screw the pieces together. Image right: Gluing and clamping the 14-1/2" piece to the 18" piece.

Continue until you have all your inside pieces in place. Then glue and clamp your 48” outside piece in place. For the outside face of the bench, glue and clamp the 14 ½” piece to the 18” piece.

Top left: Marking for the countersink.  Top middle: Drilling to prepare for the screws and dowels. Top right: Drilling to prepare for the screws and dowels. Bottom left: Driving a screw. Bottom middle: Applying glue to the holes. Bottom right: Hammering in the dowels.

Mark the locations of the screws and dowels on the faces of the outside legs. Using a 3/8" bit, drill holes 1/2" deep as countersinks for the dowels. I make sure to mark all holes 1” in from all the outside edges. On the legs, start 3” down from top and bottom of the leg. On the top length, mark 1-3/4” from the outside edge so it’s in the center of the legs.

Image left: Using a saw to trim excess dowelling. Image middle: Sanding using a belt sander. Image right: Finishing sanding using an orbital sander.

When you have finished gluing all the dowels in place, use a Japanese saw to trim off the excess dowelling. It’s now time to sand. First, use a belt sander to smooth your rough edges and uneven areas. Finish with an orbital sander.

The completed bench used as an outdoor table.

Your work is complete. Enjoy your new bench!

Text and photos by Barry Maruk

Barry Maruk is a carpenter with a creative passion for design and photography.

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