Last summer, I needed to repair my deck. After completing the necessary work, I had a small stack of new-lumber offcuts and old, left-over deck boards. Instead of taking the wood to the landfill, I made a small garden bench that can be easily moved from the deck to other parts of the yard. I settled on a finished height of 18” and determined the width of the seat by using three boards with 1/4" spacing. The length of the old boards determined the length of the bench, which in this case was 5’.
I used some 4”x 2” offcuts of pressure-treated wood to make the “feet” and cross members. To make the bench more stable on rough ground, I added a 1” lift to form the feet. I cut a radius on the top corners using a bandsaw.
To give the tight radius for the feet, I drilled two 1” holes and removed the waste with a bandsaw. I used a drum sander on the drill press to smooth the inside.
Removing the waste and smoothing the inside.
On the router table, I gave the cut edges a 1/4" radius.
After I cut all parts to size, I gave them two coats of acrylic wood stain before assembly. This ensured that all surfaces were protected so that my bench would last a long time.
The next step was to assemble the legs. The short deck boards are sandwiched between two of the feet and two cross members. Take care to ensure the top edges are all lined up and square to each other before screwing the parts together. I used 1-3/4” screws to fix the boards to one foot and one cross member, and then screwed the second cross member in place with 3-1/4” screws to form the sandwich. Take your time when adding the second foot to the leg to ensure the leg is plumb. I used my router table top and a framing square to make sure it was right.
I did a final check to ensure all parts had two coats of stain and then it was ready for assembly.
I assembled the garden bench on my workbench, which I know is flat. It made the job a little easier, as it was a good height to work at. I had some 4” deck screws left over, so I used these for the frame.
I marked the middle board for the seat on the bottom side to give an equal overhang on both ends and a center. I marked the center on the cross member of the legs, and screwed the middle board in place.
I spaced the other two seat boards to give a 1/4" gap and then fixed them in place with two rows of screws. This arrangement of two top cross members for each leg and two rows of screws gives the bench good lateral stability.
A quick touch up with the stain and I was ready to find a nice quiet, shady place in my yard to sit on my new bench and admire my recently refurbished deck.
Text and photos by George Hammond