Casual seating is a welcome addition to any outdoor setting. This lovely garden bench sits comfortably around the borders of any porch, patio, or deck. With a compact footprint, it creates a pleasant resting spot for up to three adults without taking up a lot of space. Station it near your home’s rear entry for a convenient place to remove shoes or set down grocery bags while you unlock the door.
The straightforward, slatted design of this bench lends itself to accessorizing. Station a rustic cedar planter next to the bench for a lovely effect. Or, add a framed lattice trellis to one side of the bench to cut down on wind and direct sun. You can apply exterior stain or a clear wood sealer with UV protectant to keep the bench looking fresh and new. Or, leave it unfinished and let it weather naturally to a silvery hue.
Graceful lines and trestle construction make this bench a charming furnishing for any garden as well as porches, patios, and decks.
Cutting List (text version)
Key Part Dimension Pcs. Material
A) Leg Half 7 ½ x 7 ¼ x 14 ½” 4 Cedar
B) Cleat ¾ c 3 ½ x 16” 8 Cedar
C) Brace 1 ½ x 1 ½ x 16” 3 Cedar
D) Trestle 1 ½ x 3 ½ x 60” 1 Cedar
E) Apron 1 ½ x 5 ½ x 60” 2 Cedar
F) Slat 1 ½ x 1 ½ x 60” 8 Cedar
Build the Base
Cut the leg halves, cleats, and trestle to length. Sandwich one leg half between two cleats so the cleats are flush with the top and the outside edge of the leg half. Then, join the parts by driving four 1½” deck screws through each cleat and into the leg half. Assemble two more cleats with a leg half in the same fashion.
Stand the two assemblies on their sides, with the open ends of the cleats pointing upward. Arrange the assemblies so they are roughly 4 feet apart. Set the trestle onto the inner edges of the leg halves, pressed flush against the bottoms of the cleats. Adjust the position of the assemblies so the trestle overhangs the leg half by 1½” at each end. Fasten the trestle to each leg half with glue and 2½” deck screws.
Attach another pair of cleats to each leg half directly below the first pair, positioned so each cleat is snug against the bottom of the trestle. Slide the other leg half between the cleats, keeping the top edge flush with the upper cleats. Join the leg halves with the cleats using glue and 2½” deck screws. Cut the braces to length. Fasten one brace to the inner top cleat on each leg assembly, so the tops are flush.
Make the Aprons
Cut the aprons to length. Lay out the arc profile onto one apron, starting 3″ from each end. The peak of the arch, located over the midpoint of the apron, should be 1½” up from the bottom edge. Draw a smooth, even arc by driving a casing nail at the peak of the arc and at each of the starting points. Slip a flexible ruler or strip of thin plywood or hardboard behind the nails at the starting points and in front of the nail at the peak to create a smooth arc. Then, trace along the inside of the ruler to make a cutting line. Cut along the line with a jigsaw and sand the cut smooth. Trace the profile of the arc onto the other apron and make the cut. Sand the cuts smooth.
Cut the slats to length. Attach a slat to the top inside edge of each apron with glue and deck screws.
Install the Aprons & Slats
Apply glue at each end on the bottom sides of the attached slats. Flip the leg and trestle assembly and position it flush with the aprons so that it rests on the glue of the two slatted bottoms. The aprons should extend 1½” beyond the legs at each end of the bench. Drive 2½” deck screws through the braces and into both slats.
Position the middle brace between the aprons, centered end-to-end on the project. Fasten it to the two side slats with deck screws. Position the six remaining slats on the braces using ½”-thick spacers to create equal gaps between them. Attach the slats with glue and drive 2½” deck screws up through the braces and into each slat.
Apply Finishing Touches
Sand the slats smooth with progressively finer sandpaper, up to 150-grit. Wipe away the sanding residue with a rag dipped in mineral spirits. Let the bench dry. Apply a finish of your choice—a clear wood sealer protects the cedar without altering the color.
How to Build a Cedar Garden Bench
Attach the trestle to the legs, making sure it is positioned correctly against the top cleat bottoms.
Attach the remaining leg half to the cleats on both ends, sandwiching the trestle on all sides.
Attach the outer brace for the seat slats directly to the inside faces of the cleats.
Mark the profile cuts on the aprons. Use a flexible ruler pinned between casing nails to trace a smooth arc.
Attach a 2 × 2 slat to the top inside edge of each apron using 2½” deck screws and glue.
Attach the seat slats with glue and 2½” deck screws. Insert ½”-thick spacers to set gaps between the slats.