How to Make a Rustic Outdoor Bench (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Add to the appeal and comfort of your yard or garden by constructing a rustic outdoor bench that you can construct using basic carpentry techniques and simple hand tools.

The addition of unfinished, natural wood furniture in a garden setting not only complements surrounding trees and garden plantings but also provides a comforting refuge for relaxation and meditation.

This attractive bench can be constructed with minimum woodworking experience by following simple instructions and using readily available lumber from the home supply center in one afternoon and will add years of enjoyment to your garden.

Rustic Outdoor BenchMaterials List:

  • 36 board feet of 4-inch by 4-inch treated lumber
  • 6 board feet of 2-foot by 10-inch treated lumber
  • 2 metal strips 2 inches by 1/4 inch by 24 inches
  • 7 threaded metal rods, 1 inch by 20 inches
  • 14 nuts, 1/2 inch in diameter
  • 14 washers, 1/2 inch in diameter
  • 4 “L” brackets, 2 inches by 2 inches by 1/4 inch
  • 8 wood bolts, 1 1/2 inches by 1/2 inch
  • 4 wood bolts, 2 feet by 1/2 inch
  • 4 bolts, 2 inches by 1/2 inch
  • 4 half-inch washers
  • 4 half-inch nuts
  • 1 electric drill
  • 1 hole cutting blade, 1 1/2 inch in diameter
  • 1 metal cutting bit, 1/2 inch in diameter
  • 1 wood cutting bit, 1/2 inch in diameter
  • 1 wood chisel

Rustic Outdoor Bench – Side Rails Steps

  1. Cut twelve boards to 4 inches X 4 inches X 30 inches in length.
  2. Measure and mark a line across the width and four inches from both ends of each board. Using electric drill tap a 1/2 inch hole through the midpoint of these lines.
  3. Counter-sunk holes in rails. Use a 1 1/2 inch bit to counter-sink one side the previously cut holes to a depth of one inch on four of the twelve boards.
  4. Lay the twelve boards on a flat surface, side by side with the drilled shaft parallel to the surface. Take care to align tops and bottoms evenly. Use one spare 4 inch X 4-inch board as a temporary stop against which the boards can be butted. Measure a distance 13 inches from the bottom of these boards and chalk a line across all twelve boards at the 13-inch mark
  5. Measure a second line 16 1/2 inches up from the bottom of the boards and chalk a second line across all twelve boards.
  6. Cut Rail Mortises. Set circular saw (or table saw) to a cut depth of 1 1/4 inches and cut mortise between the two chalk lines on each of the twelve boards. Cut mortise by making multiple saw cuts at close (1/8 inch) intervals and using a wood chisel to remove the remaining waste.
  7. Prior to cutting remaining mortises test fit of mortise by inserting an end of a scrap piece of 4 inch X 4-inch stock. Adjust remaining cuts as necessary to gain a tight fit when 4 inch X 4-inch stock is inserted into the mortise.
  8. Complete cutting mortises in each of the twelve side rail pieces and then layout six rails with the mortise cut facing up. Insert 1 inch X 20-inch threaded metal rod through the top and bottom shaft cut in the six adjacent pieces. insert a washer and nut and tighten securely at both ends.
  9. Repeat step 8 for the remaining six side rail pieces.

Rustic Outdoor Bench – Bench Seat Steps

  1. Cut six 4 inch X 4-inch boards to a length of six feet.
  2. Measure and mark a center point at 14 inches from each end of these boards and a third point centered between these two marks ( 5 feet 6 inches from the end of each board). Using a 1/2 inch bit drill through holes at each of these points on all six-seat rails.
  3. Lay previously joined six rail pieces on a flat surface with a mortise side facing up. Insert the six-seat pieces vertically into the mortise slots (have a helper support the vertical pieces) aligning each seat 4 inch X 4-inch piece with a corresponding rail 4 inch X 4-inch side piece.
  4. “L” clamps connecting seat rails to side rails. Attach “L” clamps to the second and fifth seat rail and to the second and fifth side rail using two 1 1/2 inch bolts.
  5. Lower seat rails to a horizontal position and insert far end seat rails into remaining side rail mortises being careful to align seat rails with a corresponding side rail.
  6. Insert 1 inch X 20 inch threaded metal rod through the three holes cut in each seat rail and secure each end using a washer and nut. Tighten until all seat rails are firmly seated.
  7. Attach “L” clamps to the second and fifth seat rail and the second and fifth side rail using 1 1/2 inch bolts.

Bench Back

  1. Using metal bit cut two adjacent 1/2 inch holes centered six inches from one end of the two metal bands (1/4 inch X 2 inch X 2 feet).
  2. On the opposite end of each metal band cut one 1/2 inch hole centered 3 inches from the end and a second 1/2 inch hole 9 inches from the end of each.
  3. Position metal bands in the vice and bend the band 15 degrees 4 inches below the pair of vertically aligned holes cut in step 2 above.
  4. Position one metal band vertically against the rear-most seat rail 16 inches inside the side rail with the 15-degree angle leading away from the bench. Fasten the metal band to the rear railing using two 2- inch bolts in the holes cut in step 1 above.
  5. Repeat step 4 on the opposite side of the bench.
  6. Center the 2 inch X 10 inch X 5 feet board in place at the top of the metal bands and mark the position of the four holes in the bands (two per band).
  7. Using 1/2 inch drill bit cut two mounting holes on each end of the 2 inch X 10 inch X 5 feet board at the marked positions.
  8. Completed Bench. Hold 2 inch X 5 feet board in place and secure to metal bands using four 2 inch X 1/2 inch bolts, nuts and washers.

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