How to build a Garden Bench

Want to enjoy the summer sun weather? This month’s Peterson Project is to build a DIY garden bench where you can enjoy as much sun as you want in comfort. This bench should take around a day to build, and it is recommended that you have a intermediate knowledge of building before commencing.

You will need:

  • Lumber:

    2 x 26″ x 3.5″
    2 x 36″ x 3.5″
    4 x 14.5″ x 3.5″
    2 x 21.75″ x 3.5″
    2 x 21.75″ x 3.5″
    2 x 47″ x 3.5″
    4 x 6 “x .75″ x .75″
    8 x 48″ x 1.5″
    2 x 47″ x 3.5″
    1 x 47″ x 3.5″
    9 x 16″ x 3.5″
    6 x 3.5″ x .75″ x .75″
    2 x 23.5″ x 3.5″
    1 x 47″ x 2”

  • Tools:

    Circular saw
    Combination square
    Jig saw
    Palm sander
    Tape measure
    Dust mask
    Hearing protection

  • Materials:

    Wood glue
    Finish nails
    1 .25″ galvanized screws

Step By Step Instructions for DIY Garden Bench:

Step 1 – Making the Side Frames

  • Face glue the seat assembly supports to the inside faces of one front side frame upright and one backside frame upright. Use 3d finish nails to hold the boards together while the glue dries.
  • The upright connector with seat slabs on the DIY Garden Bench
    The upright connector with seat slats already installed

    Measure and mark 2.5″ in from each end of one of the upright connectors and draw a seat contour on it that connects the marks. (The contour’s exact shape is a personal preference.) Use a jigsaw or band saw to cut along the contour line. Use the connector as a pattern to mark the remaining upright connector and the center seat supports. Mark the front end of each piece for future reference. Face-clamp the pieces together and gang sand them so their contours match.

  • Lay the uprights on your workbench with the inside faces up. Lay an upright connector across a set of front and back uprights so that its bottom edge abuts the top ends of each seat assembly support. Leave .75″ between the upright connector’s ends and the outside edge of each upright. Remember to orient the connector so that the end-marked front is toward the front upright.
  • Square the uprights and connector. Predrill holes through the connector and secure it to the uprights with glue and screws.
  • Use the remaining uprights and connector to assemble the second side frame as a mirror image of the first.

Step 2 – Installing the Seat Rails & Center Seat Support

  • Installing the seat rails with screws on the DIY Garden Bench
    Secure the rails to the side frames with glue and screws.

    Predrill countersink holes near the ends of the seat rails so you can screw through the rails into the ends of the upright connectors.

  • Secure the rails to the side frames with glue and screws. Check the assembly for square and adjust as needed.
  • Measure in 15.25″ from the ends of each rail and mark the inside face of the rail.
  • Screw and glue each of the four, 6″ long .75″ x .75″ support blocks flush with the bottom of the rails centered on the 15.25″ marks.
  • Cut a .25″ x .25″ notch in the bottom of each end of each center seat support. Position the center seat supports centered on the 15.25″ marks. Bore countersink holes in the front and back seat rails centered on the 15.25″ marks and secure the center seat supports with glue and screws.

Step 3 – Installing the Seat Slats

  • Position of slats on DIY Garden Bench.
    1. Back upright 2. Spacer 3. Rear 1.5″ slat

    Use a router and a .25″ round over bit to round over the 1.5″ seat slats and the 3.5″ seat slats.

  • Position the front 3.5″ slat on the bench so it overhangs the front seat rail by 3/8″. Secure the slat with finish nails and glue.
  • Lay a piece of 1 x 4 on edge so its back face abuts the front edge of each back upright. This piece is a spacer. Position a 1.5″ slat so its back edge abuts the front face of the spacer. Secure the second slat with finish nails and glue. Remove the spacer.
  • Install the rest of the 1.5″ slats equally spaced to fill in the area between the front 3.5″ slat and the rear 1.5″ slat.

Step 4 – Installing the Backrest

  • Rout or cut a .25″ wide by .75″ deep groove centered on one edge of the backrest top rail. Use a router and a .25″ round over bit to round over the rail’s edge on the opposite edge from the groove. The edge with the groove is the bottom and the rounded edge is the top.
  • Back rests being installed on DIY Garden Bench.
    Install the backrest slats

    Position the rail so the top corner is 5/8″ in from the back edge of the back uprights and the bottom corner is 1 1/8″ in from the back edge of the back uprights. Bore countersink holes in the back uprights so you can drive screws into the ends of the rail. Secure the rail in place with screws and glue.

  • Mill .75″ long by .25″ thick tenons into one end of each backrest slat. The tenoned end of the slat is the top.
  • Use a router and a .25″ round over bit to round over the edges of the 1.5″ backrest slats.
  • Place a slat at each end of the top rail 1.5″ in from the end of the rail. Secure the slats by gluing the tenons into the rail’s groove and driving 4d finish nails through the slat into the rear 1.5″ seat slat.
  • Install the remaining seat slats, evenly spaced across the back rest.
  • Position the back 3.5″ seat slat in place so its front edge abuts the back faces of the backrest slats. Secure the slat in place with finish nails and glue.

Step 5 – Attach the Armrests

  • Cleats in place on DIY Garden Bench.
    Attach cleats to both sides of each front upright.

    Attach two 3.5″ long .75″ x .75″ cleats to each front upright with 4d finish nails and glue. The top edges of the cleats should be flush with the ends of the uprights.

  • Attach one 3.5″ long .75″ x .75″ cleat to the outside face of each back upright level with the cleats on the front uprights.
  • Bore a 3/16″ diameter hole vertically in the center of each cleat.
  • Measure in from the back end of one armrest 3.5″ and use a square to make a line across the armrest. Measure in from the inside edge of the armrest and mark it at 1″ and 1.75″. Use a square to mark lines from the back edge of the board to the line you’ve already drawn across the board. Use a band saw or jigsaw to cut out the 3.5″ by .75″ notch made by the lines.
  • Test fit the DIY Garden bench arm rests.
    Test fit the the armrest.

    Test fit the armrest. The notch should fit around the back rail with the wide tail over the back cleat. The front of the armrest should overhang the front rail by .75″ to 1″.

  • Make the second armrest as a mirror of the first.
  • Secure the armrests in place with glue and screws driven through the cleats into the bottom faces of the armrests.
  • Lay the 2″ by .75″ backrest stiffener across the tops of the narrow armrest tails. Glue and nail the stiffener in place with 4d finish nails.
  • Once the bench is built, sand and finish it as you like or leave uncoated and allow it to weather to a beautiful silver-gray.
Finished image of DIY Garden Bench.
Well done you have now created a Garden Bench Seat!

This is a plan from How-To section. For more great plans visit

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