How to Build a Small Bench


Benches are ideal first projects. They require only a few basic tools that most do-it-yourselfers have on hand. While benches are simple to build, you can make them as elaborate and ornate as you desire. Benches fit into almost any decor.

This bench is about as simple as they get. It is simple, sturdy and well-suited to any country-, farmhouse- or colonial-themed room. Make it from pine for a very simple look, or use a fancier wood like maple for a more “formal” look.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • 28 nails, 4-inch
  • Woodworker’s glue
  • Damp cloth
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • 2- by 12-inch wood piece, 36 inches long
  • 2 wood pieces, each 2 inches by 12 inches by 16 inches long
  • 2- by 6-inch wood piece, 27 inches long
  • Finish of your choice
  • Applicator
  • Cut a V-shaped notch from one end of a 16-inch-long 2-by-12. Make it 3 inches wide and 5 inches tall; center it on the edge of the end piece. This will create the “feet” on the bottom of the leg.

  • Repeat on the other 16-inch-long 2-by-12.

  • Stand the 2-by-6 on one of its long edges; this will be the main bench support that ties the legs together.

  • Set one of the leg pieces on its end (the end without the ‘V’ cut) and butt it against one of the cut ends of the 2-by-6. The 2-by-6 should be centered on the leg, in line with the ‘V’ cut you made earlier. When you are comfortable with its position, mark the leg so you can replicate the position.

  • Move the leg out of the way and spread a layer of glue on the end of the 2-by-6 and then replace the leg. Hammer four of the 4-inch box nails through the side of the leg and into the end of the 2-by-6. Wipe off any glue that oozes out with the damp cloth.

  • Repeat Steps 4 and 5 with the other leg. You will now have a base--two legs connected by a central support.

  • Flip the base over so the “feet” are on the ground and the 2-by-6 support is at the top of the assembly.

  • Lay the long 2-by-12 on top of the base so it overhangs each leg by an equal amount. (This will be about 3 inches.) Mark the top so you can put it back in this position after the next step.

  • Remove the top and spread a layer of glue along the top edges of both legs and the central support.

  • Reposition the top and attach it to the base using the remaining nails. You will use four sets of three nails for the legs. Drive one nail through the top into the leg, about 1 inch from one edge of the bench; then nail a second nail 1 1/2 inches nearer to the center of the seat; then nail the third nail 1 1/2 nearer again. Repeat this process at the remaining three edges where a leg butts against the seat.

  • Take the remaining eight nails and drive them into the center support. Using two of the nails, drive one nail into each of the legs, halfway between the six nails you used in the last step. The remaining six nails will be driven in a straight line between them, each about 4 inches apart.

  • Wipe off any excess glue that squeezes out, and let the glue dry.

  • Use the sandpaper to smooth the wood surface and then apply the finish of your choice according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Let the finish dry thoroughly.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want to make your bench even sturdier, you can assemble it with screws. Drill and countersink pilot holes for the screws and then assemble the bench. Fill the screw holes with wood putty and then sand and finish.
  • You can add felt or furniture glides to the bottom of the bench’s “feet” if you need to protect the floor.

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  • Photo Credit The Bench image by lynnmohd2 from
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