Friday, May 18, 2012

Bench? Love Seat? Outdoor Awesomeness.

Back in March I was patio furniture dreaming. I finally decided that I wanted a bench to go along with my already-owned table and chairs. It would be nice to have the table and chairs for eating outside but a bench would come in handy when I want to lie down outside to read some mindless summer novel on my Kindle while drinking a Woodchuck since let’s be honest – that’s how I usually spend time on the patio.


I’ve spent endless hours looking at patio benches online and in stores  but I just never pulled the trigger to purchase one. The biggest issue I encountered (other than the high price for simple benches) was that the benches were kinda dinky for how much money the stores wanted for them.  Then the idea of making a bench came to mind. The only problem was that I’ve never built a piece of furniture before and I wasn’t sure I was up to the challenge. Then I found instructions on Ana White’s site for a garden bench that seemed easy enough. I mean – just cutting and assembling. I was all in at this point. Last weekend after a trip to the farmer’s market I decided to swing by Home Depot to buy mulch for my flowerbeds and the wood I needed to make myself a bench.


Wood shopping list:
7 - 2x3x8
1 - 2x4x8
1 - 2x6x8
2 - 2x2x8
$23.38 at my local Home Depot!!!!! If you need to buy the screws the project requires it will add on around $13 for those.

After a long day doing yard work I finally decided to start building my bench. I laid out all my wood…


…and made all my cuts with my compound miter saw in the basement. Why yes, I cut wood in my basement for all of my projects. I don’t have a workbench in the garage but I do have a great work surface in the basement plus this sucker is HEAVY and I don’t want to carry it upstairs, outside and into the garage. Let’s just say that I’m clumsy so I left it where my ex put it when he gave it to me as a birthday present a few years ago. Back to the project. I’m not going to walk you through the steps since you can find them over on Ana White’s site so I’ll just give you a little info and a few pictures.

I don’t have pictures of me cutting the wood or assembling the seat since its hard to do when you are doing it all by yourself and I was so freaking excited that I didn’t stop to take a ton of pictures. Bad blogger – I know. Up until this point I didn’t pay much attention to the finished size of the bench (40" H x 50" W x 27" D) so imagine my surprise when the seat frame was this huge beast:


I read through the site again and noticed that the woman who made these plans based it off her love seat – well, that explained the large seat and as luck would have it, made me even happier. When it came time to attach the slats to the seat bottom, I tried to follow the instructions. They said to attach from the bottom (so you won’t see screws in the seat) but when I tried to do that…


…the screws didn’t pull the wood tight to the frame since the boards weren’t 100% straight (The pic just shows the slats as I was trying to space them out on the frame – nothing is attached at this point). This is a recurring issue with wood at the HD in my opinion and I need to start buying it elsewhere. The HD worker and I got all of the straightest boards we could find in the sizes I needed but there was still a little wave in a few pieces. So, I ended up flipping it all over and screwing my boards into the frame from the top. Oh well – a cushion will cover it anyway.

When I was finished with this part of the bench, I realized 1) this sucker is a beast and incredibly heavy and 2) if I finish building it in the basement there is no way I was going to get it up my stairs and outside by myself. So, I hauled this outside, cracked open a beer (as shown in the first picture) and called it a night. It took me two hours to cut the wood and build the seat.

The next morning I finished building the bench and was thrilled when I had a solid bench after two more hours (no that isn’t a crack on the far leg – that’s just the wood). You may notice some of the lumberyard stamping on the seat – I tried to put those on the bottom but in some cases, that side of the board was nicer than the other so I flipped those boards hoping that the sanding step would remove the markings.



I sanded everything (well, except the inside of the leg bottoms since I forgot those) and rounded the arms so I wouldn’t hurt myself on the sharp edges. I wasn’t too worried about covering the screws – I like the rustic feel of seeing screws so I left them as-is when I stained the piece.


The next step was to stain. I used the same stain I used for the wood stairs that lead into the house. I wanted a dark chocolate, semi-transparent stain since I love seeing the wood grain show through. It worked well since I had just enough to stain the bench and didn’t have to buy anything.



After letting that sit for two, long, agonizing days I applied my first coat of poly. Make sure you use a good brush for this (I don’t recommend a foam brush like some bloggers – a good, bristle brush does a much better job and is recommended by the manufacturer). You can see a little of the sheen the first coat of poly gave the wood in the pic below.


I have to lightly sand and then apply the next coat of poly. I will likely be done with that by the time you read this so that I can use the bench this weekend.  Here’s your first glimpse of it in the space with the rest of my patio furniture.


A few more steps and the bench and patio will be finished!

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