DIY Outdoor Wood Bench

DIY, Furniture, Outdoor

With summer underway, I set out to transform my small 5 ft x 9 ft balcony into an intimate al fresco dining area able to seat 4 to 5 people. Having that many chairs on such a small balcony would have been cumbersome, so instead I decided to build simple wood benches to make a corner booth. I didn’t want anything too complicated to build so I came up with a very simple design that only takes a couple of hours to make using basic tools and materials:

I’ll walk you through how to make one of them and then you’ll be able to customize the design to work with your outdoor space.

Bench dimensions: 56″ long x 16 1/4″ wide x 17 3/4″ high

Materials needed: 6 x 1″ x 4″ x 6 ft pine boards (~ $4.50 each), 1 x 2″x 3″x 6 ft stud (~$2.00), weather proofing stain or paint, decking screws (1 1/4″, 2″)

Step 1: Cut the pine boards and stud to size (I had mine cut at the hardware store):

Cut list:

Frame (1″x4″): 2 x 55″, 3 x 13 3/4″

Top (1″x4″): 4 x 56″

Legs (2″x3″): 4 x 17″

Step 2: Weatherproof all the wood – I used a semi-transparent weather proofing stain from BEHR (coffee color) and applied 2 coats. For a small project like this, an 8 oz sample is more than enough.

Step 3: Build the frame:

Use corner clamps to hold the pieces together (adding wood glue before doing this will make the joints stronger but skipping the glue will allow you to easily disassemble the bench later).

Drill two pilot holes and put in screws (use 1 1/4″ screws). After the four sides are put together, add the middle piece for extra support.

Step 4: Place one of the top 1″ x 4″ on top of the frame so that it extends 1/2″ past the edge of the frame at the ends and on the sides. Drill pilot holes and screw in place.

Screw in place the remaining pine boards, using a scrap piece of 1″ x 4″ as a spacer.

Step 5: Attach the legs:

Using clamps, secure one leg to the inside of one corner of the frame:

Drill pilot holes and screw in place (use 2″ screws).

For my project, I made two benches, added cushions and built privacy panels to complete my corner booth DIY dining area  – you can see how I built the privacy panels in this video:

I love how my DIY al fresco dining area turned out and it’s been a wonderful place to enjoy warm summer evenings with friends and family.

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40 Comments

  1. This is absolutely FABULOUS!!!

    • Glad you like it!

  2. great proyect!… if i dont use a bench cushion for the seat, how can i avoid screws to damage people´s pants?

  3. I found your channel and page yesterday. And I’m totaly inspired by your ideas. As soon as I came home from work (found the channel during my night shift 🙂 I showed it to my husband. – this balcony project gave us the missing idea for our new balcony. In three weeks we are moving in a new flat which we rent.

    Thank you for the many projects which are usable in rented homes. Since we love engeneering our flats, we love the ideas.

    greetings from Switzerland

    • I’m so happy to hear that this idea will help you in your new home, as far away as Switzerland no less – gotta love the internet for sharing ideas around the world! Thanks so much for watching and I hope you send me some pictures of your new “engineered” balcony with the benches when it’s done 🙂

  4. Can you tell me what size screw you used for the top slats that are screwed into the frame? Also, did you use screws on both sides of the legs, or just the one?

    Heading to the store to give this a try! Looks great!

    Thanks!

    • I used 1 1/2″ long screws for the top slats and I only screwed in the legs from one side. Good luck with your project!

  5. I love your website!!!.
    I am attempting to make these benches for my small cafe,I have a beautifully spot by the window where i would like for it to be placed. My shop is very small (700 sq) inside an old victorian house ( has the charm, but the layout makes it appear even smaller and less functional). Your website has really inspired me to work with what I have.Hopefully, ill succeed and ill post the before and after
    🙂
    Thank you for all that you do, and thank you for inspiring people like me.

    • Thank you so much! And you’re welcome – I’m happy to share my ideas and it’s great to hear that it’s helpful to you 🙂 And yes, please do share your before and after pics – I would love to see how it turns out!

  6. Hey Isabelle your a GODSEND!!!! I bumped into your youtube page a week ago and cant stop replaying your vids!!! I love your free teachings and I’m truly inspired!!! I must admit I was a bit intimidated while seeing you use the tools but now I’m starting to work on my bench and that fear is out the window!! Continue to be strong smart and awesome!!

    • Thank you so much for all your kind words!!! It’s so amazing to hear that you’re getting over your fear of tools – Once you get started, you’ll see it’s hard to stop 🙂 I hope you’ll share some pics of your projects!

  7. Hi, your site is awesome!
    For step 3 of this tutorial, do you need 4 corner clamps, or can I use 2 at a time?
    Thanks.

    • Thanks, great to hear you like it! I used 2 corner clamps and did one side at a time.

  8. today I found one of your videos on youtube I got suck it somuch that I finish them all. I love your ideas, the blue back splash is gorgeous. your balconies are beautiful.
    also really breave I will not be near a balcony that hight less work in it like you do.
    I will be trying some of your proyects soon.
    I cant wait to see the new videos.
    you are great !

    • Hi Samantha! Thank you so much for your message – I love hearing that you might try some of my ideas, and I hope you’ll share pics! Thanks for watching!

  9. hi Isabelle,

    your ideas really inspired me. i really love the way you create a space into something different and gorgeous.. now i have something to do to decorate my new home. Thanks to you.

    • Thank you so much for your message. It’s truly wonderful to hear that I can be of some help to you in decorating your new home!

  10. Hi Isabelle! I saw your video on youtube where you used shoe boxes to make your bench, did the wood not work? Love your work!

    • Hi Ana, Not at all, I just wanted to change things up and redo my balcony – both benches worked really well! Thanks! Isabelle

  11. What size is the Hallo Pad?? The one I found on the website that looks closest is 74″ by 24″. Will that work?

    • Yep, that’s the one, 74″ long 🙂

  12. Hey do you have any wooden bench with small backrest? I am looking for similar thing but little back rest atleast in on side. I have slanted balcony soo can’t put pillows like you did.

    • I haven’t done a bench like this yet, sorry!

  13. I now know what I’m going to do with my left over pallets! Thanks for sharing!!

  14. I did it!!!!!! First thing I have every built – so proud of myself. Hubby was amazed (hehehe)

    • Amazing!!! Great job and it looks perfect for that corner! Thanks so much for sharing Sabrina and I can’t wait to see all the other projects you make 🙂

  15. Hi Isabella,

    thank you for this instructions.
    I have a question regarding the width of the bench.

    You say the width is 16″ 1/4 and therefore the frame has a width of 13″ 3/4.
    But is the width not 4 * 4″= 16 for the boards + 3 * 1″ = 3 for the gaps, summing up to 19″. If I’am correct the frame width has to be adjusted as well.

    Due to the fact that nobody else has noted this, I guess I am somehow mistaken, but I can’t find my mistake.

    P.S.: Sorry for my bad english, I’am from Germany.

    • Hi Dierk, You’re welcome! In the US, a 1″x 4″ board actually measures 3/4″ x 3 1/2″ so that’s why the measurements come out to what they are. Hope this helps! Isabelle

      • Thanks for the clarification.

        Thanks to your instruction, I was able to build my first project. Still needs to be painted, but I love it!

        • You’re very welcome and congratulations on your very first project! Looks great!

  16. – Love the way you have explained.
    – I followed step by step as you have mentioned.
    – Thank you so much.
    – Here is the one made from your inspiration.

    • Amazing! Thanks so much for sharing, made me day 🙂 Isabelle

  17. I did as u had mentioned for one half. U r truly an inspiration

    • Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  18. Hi,
    While i was reading the materials needed part i got a bit confused on the inches and feet (6 x 1″ x 4″ x 6 ft pine boards) I don’t understand what number represents what. Is there anyway you double check the measurements. Thank you and sorry for bugging you.
    Ps. Is there a video on how to build the bench?

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