A Really Simple DIY Bench (but Not For Us!)

Over the weekend – in addition to completing the studio baseboard installation (but not including the dreaded spackling, caulking and painting, oy!) – we spent a morning building this bench:

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For a handful of weeknights, we’ve been helping our friends makeover their home’s entry (more on that next week, that is, if all goes well!), and they were in need of a bench the length of their wall. Having had good luck and quite a bit of fun making our farmhouse table last year, we looked up Ana White’s plans for the corresponding bench. Now, already, there are two things I should mention:

ONE. We love this bench! It was a satisfying and quick DIY, and we found a few ways around the tutorial to not only minimize the exposed screw heads, but to make things a tad bit easier and a more polished. (You know when you find plans for a project online and you think, yeah, but how easy is it really? Hopefully this run down will help!) The only problem we ran into is not having one for ourselves – but again, more on its future home next week.

TWO. On a complete aside, about our farmhouse table? We might have accidentally found a new dining table for a steal, and our DIY table might be on the way out. It was a complete accident, but it was an accident we couldn’t pass up! Once we start the dining room shuffle, we’ll re-visit this cryptic message. (We’re apparently all about table swapping lately!)

But, on to this bench! Our friends’ wall is 55 1/2″ wide, so to account for the depth of their baseboards, we settled on a finished width of 54″. We already had the tools, so our shopping list consisted of only lumber, coming in under $20!

MATERIALS + TOOLS FOR A 54″ BENCH:
1 – 2″ x 6″ x 8′
2 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′
1 – 2″ x 12″ x 6′
Table saw
Circular saw
Mini Kreg jig
Drill
Chamfer bit
2″ screws
Sandpaper / electric sander
Wood glue + saw dust
Wood stain
Polycrylic
Safety glasses + dust mask

CUTS NEEDED FOR A 54″ BENCH:
4 – 2″ x 6″ at 18″ (legs)
2 – 2″ x 4″ at 50″ (front and back aprons)
2 – 2″ x 4″ at 3 1/4″ (end aprons)
2 – 2″ x 2″ at 10 3/4″ (hidden seat supports, cut from leftover 2x6s)
1 – 2″ x 12″ at 50″ (seat)

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WHAT WE DID. The very first thing we did was rip down 1/8″ off of each side of all our lumber using our table saw. This gives everything a crisp hard edge, which looks much more polished overall. Of course, this also gives the entire tutorial all new measurements, which is reflected in our cut list, above. For example, a store bought 2″ x 12″ is really only 1 1/2″ x 11″, so once we’ve given the wood a clean edge, the new size is 1 1/2″ x 10 3/4″. Once everything has been given their new edge, we cut everything down to the proper lengths, allowing us to motor through the bench assembly. (Tip: We cut the 2″ x 2″ supports from 2″ x 6″ remnants!) 

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We started with the legs, sandwiching an end apron between two of them. Measuring 1 1/2″ down from the top and each side, we screwed in our 2×2 seat support – which, you might notice, has been Kreg jigged from each side as well. That step will come in handy next.

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To prep for the front and back aprons, we used a chamfer bit on each of the legs, which allows for the screws to sit below the surface of the wood. With our apron flush with the top of the legs, we were able to screw in two places on each leg, plus a screw from the inside of the Kreg jigged seat support. By adding those pocket holes to the seat support, we were able to avoid visible screws on the outside of the apron – yes!

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At that point, we were more than halfway to a finished bench:

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Before installing the seat, we added pocket holes along each long side spaced about 1′ apart. Just as the pocket holes in our seat support allowed for hidden screws on the front and back aprons, this will do the same!

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Our seat was the exact width of the opening (if only a hair smaller), which is what we wanted. I was able to start on one end and get it in-between the front and back aprons, and Scott used a leftover 2×4 and a hammer to carefully tap it into place.

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With everything flush on the top, we flipped the bench over and added screws from our pocket holes into the aprons, securing everything into place and further ensuring a nice, flush fit overall.

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All said and done, we only had two exposed screw heads, which isn’t bad at all! Having used store bought wood filler in the past, I’d been looking forward to trying the sawdust trick this time around. Using a bit of the leftover saw dust created from ripping down the lumber, I made a very dry paste using a touch of wood glue. Only a small amount of glue is necessary – just enough so that the sawdust clumps together. Using this ‘paste,’ I stuffed it into my chamfered screw holes, allowed it to dry, then sanded the entire bench as usual.

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Finally, I applied two coats of Minwax Jacobean stain and two coats of Polycrylic in a satin finish. And the verdict on the homemade wood filler? The results are in, and it’s way, way better than any actual wood filler!

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We are both thrilled with the results, but we’re especially smitten with the wood grain. Considering that the entire bench was built from common board, the perfectly imperfect finish feels as though it could fit into any style of decor. Rustic? Yup! Modern? Absolutely!

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We’ll be taking the bench to its new home this week, when we’ll also be tying up the loose ends and finalizing the entryway. We’re excited to see how everything will come together, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you!

See Ana’s original tutorial right here!

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  • Marie - September 3, 2014 - 11:08 AM

    That’s very nice of you to build a bench for your friends, can’t wait to see the result at their place. And thanks for the sawdust trick. Looking forward to your new dining table too ! What style is it ?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 3, 2014 - 11:14 AM

      Thanks, Marie! The funny thing about the dining table is that it’s almost exactly the same style… which makes us feel like we must be crazy! But, eh, when you know, you know.ReplyCancel

      • Marie - September 3, 2014 - 12:18 PM

        Right, when you got this felling that it’s gonna be perfect, don’t hesitate. Sure I already said this, but I love crazy !ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - September 4, 2014 - 6:19 AM

    It’s awesome! Your friends are very lucky!ReplyCancel

  • Tania // Run To Radiance - September 4, 2014 - 11:04 AM

    Love it!! I just got a kreg jig and feel a bit intimidated but after seeing projects like this I want to jump right in!! So cute!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 4, 2014 - 11:47 AM

      The Kreg Jig makes making furniture so much easier! (And safer, sturdier, etc, etc1)ReplyCancel

  • Trude - September 4, 2014 - 11:59 AM

    So perfect! Love everything about this, right down to the stain. I’ve been looking for something like this for our entry for easy shoe tying and storage beneath. :)ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - September 5, 2014 - 7:57 AM

    Really beautiful. The stain and the wood grain make it look really high-end and solid. I can see this piece lasting for a long time and holding up to a lot of use.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley O'Roark - September 9, 2014 - 7:22 AM

    Love the transformation! Would love something similar in the entryway of my home….great inspiration!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel @ My Two Pitties - September 10, 2014 - 1:56 PM

    This is awesome! I am going to try it. Where did you get that cool rug from?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 10, 2014 - 2:01 PM

      Thanks! We picked it up on Ebay!ReplyCancel

  • […] week, we shared with you this DIY bench – but it wasn’t for us. Today (and a handful of working weekday nights later), […]ReplyCancel

  • sherry zecchini - January 26, 2015 - 4:25 PM

    love this bench I would love to make me coffee table like thatReplyCancel

  • vintagist - November 8, 2015 - 7:39 AM

    For me it is always interesting to see what huge difference a colour can make. If you took this bench without colour it would still be nice..but the really amazing finish comes through the small pot of Wood Finish which gives the nice rustic finish..ReplyCancel

  • Eric - June 2, 2017 - 2:02 PM

    What a beautiful bench. Looks great and I’m sure your friends love it. I noticed you didn’t allow any room for expansion of the top. It looks like it had to be pressed into place (a super tight fit) and then both sides were screwed in from underneath. Neither allowing for any of the natural movement that wood needs. Hopefully the top won’t crack when it settles in its new home.ReplyCancel

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