DIY With Dad: How to Build a Bench

by Megan WildJune 12, 2018

Sure, you could just go buy a bench for dad for Father’s Day, but building the memory of creating a bench together is much better. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of carpentry skills. You can still build a simple wood bench with materials from your local hardware store and a few tools you — or maybe dad already owns! To create a special Father’s Day gift your dad won’t forget, simply follow the steps below.

1. Choose a Type of Wood

Before you start your project, figure out what type of wood you’d like to use for your bench. Which type you ultimately choose depends on your budget and where the bench will ultimately be placed. If the bench is for a covered porch, you might use different materials than if you are placing the bench out in the elements.

Choose a wood that is durable enough to last for years to come. Cedar is an excellent choice for resistance to insects and is lightweight enough to move around, but Acacia is a sustainable wood due to how fast Acacia trees grow. Depending on where you live, reclaimed wood might also be a sustainable option.

2. Gather Materials

There are some specific materials you’ll need to build a bench with Dad. If you keep the bench simple, you should be able to build it for under $20. If you add a back or other details, such as arms, then the cost will run higher. For a simple bench without a back, you’ll need:

  • 1 – 2×12 that is 8 feet long in wood of choice
  • 1 – 2×4 that is 8 feet long in same wood
  • 10 – 3 1/2-inch deck screws

You’ll also want to make sure you have a circular saw, drill with screwdriver bit and sandpaper on hand.

3. Make Cuts

Now, you get to use the circular saw to make the cuts needed to create a bench:

  • You’ll need to make several cuts with the circular saw. Measure carefully. Your dad is likely a pro at this, so allow him to show you how he measures and cuts and to do some of this work.
  • Take the 2×12 and measure five-foot mark and make a straight cut, so you have a 2×12 and five-foot-long piece. This is your seat.
  • Using the same 2×12, cut two legs that are 1-foot-6-inches long each. Set aside for additional cuts later.
  • Take your 2×4 and cut a single 4-foot-and-1-inch long piece. You will have wood left over.

Young brunette man in black overalls saws with a circular saw a wooden board on a wooden table in the workshop.

Once you’ve made these cuts, go back to the legs and cut a triangular notch in the center of each leg bottom that is 4 inches high at its peak and the base of the open notch — the part that sits on the ground — is 4 inches wide with a 4-inch base on either side of the notch.

4. Assemble the Bench

Now that you’ve completed the cuts, lay the pieces out on the ground. Start with the brace. Secure the 4-foot-1-inch long piece across the two legs, securing in the middle with two deck screws placed from the outside of the leg into the brace running horizontal across the middle. The legs should now stand up on their own.

Take the bench seat and set it on top of the base, centering it perfectly. Use three deck screws on each side to secure the legs to the bench. Shoot the screws down from the top into the legs. Make sure the bench feels sturdy and isn’t wobbly.

5. Finish the Bench

Your final step is finishing the bench for use. Sand rough edges to avoid any splinters and make the pieces easier to stain. Choose the stain of your choice, outdoor paint or a clear coat and seal the entire bench. It’s smart to first flip the bench upside down and stain the underside. Allow everything to dry and then turn the bench over and stain the top and rest of the bench. Since this is the part that will be most exposed, you may want to add a second coat for protection.

Small blue green bench made of wood.

Fun With Dad

Taking on a project with dad is a fun Father’s Day activity that gives him a gift but also allows you to spend quality time together. Who knows, you might decide you enjoy building benches so much that a family business will be born. Regardless of where it goes, your dad will have a bench that reminds him of the fun day you spent together.

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About The Author
Megan Wild
Megan Wild enjoys finding easy and low-stress ways to improve your home. In her downtime, she enjoys flipping flea market finds, hanging out with her dog, and writing on her home-themed blog, Your Wild Home. She's passionate about sustainability and environmentalism, and you can find her tweeting about both @Megan_Wild.