How to build breakfast nook benches from a church pew

Updated February 21, 2017

Wooden church pews are built to last a lifetime. Occasionally, churches renovate and sell their old pews to the public. Church pews can sometimes be found at auctions, online or even in yard sales. Most church pews are 72 to 120-inches in length. The length prohibits use in homes, but you can take them apart and mitre them to fit into corners in your home, creating a breakfast nook.

Tip the pew over seat face down on the sawhorses. The supports of the pew should be sticking straight up in the air. Place one clamp under each sawhorse clamping the seat to the saw horses. Remove all the screws from everything. Remove the supports and the pew back.

Set the skill saw at 90-degrees and adjust the depth of the blade to cut through the seat.There is a 15 degree angle on the back of the seat where the back screws onto the seat. Turn on the saw and trim along the back of the seat trimming the angle off the back of the seat bringing it into square.

Measure to the centre of the seat lengthwise on the back. Set the protractor at 45-degrees. Starting from the centre point, draw a line to the left, flip the protractor over, and draw a line to the right. These are the mitre cut lines; one line should angle left towards the front, one line should angle right to the front from the centre point on the back.

Starting from the back of the seat, cut along the lines, cutting the pew in half with the skill saw. Hold onto the triangular shaped cut-off piece so it does not fall and hit your foot.

Remove all the clamps and set the seats on the floor. Set the skill saw blade to 45-degrees. Set the protractor at 90 degrees. Place the back of the pew on the saw horses. Measure to the exact centre, draw a line with the protractor and cut the back directly in half. Turn the piece of the back around with the reverse 45 degree angle, and trim the 45 degree angle on this piece. Sawing from the opposite direction cuts the corresponding angle on the reverse angle, allowing the pieces to fit together.

Flush the backs to the seats and screw the backs onto the seats. You now have two mitred sections.

Measure the centre support to get the height, and then screw the 12-inch 2-by-4 cleats to both end supports at the same height. Screw a 12-inch 2-by-4 cleat to the top of each side of the centre support.

Using the same height measurement of centre support and the cleats on the end supports, screw the 32- inch 2-by-4's horizontally to the corners of the wall at the same height.

Slide the mitred pew ends together on top of the 2-by-4's; the mitred ends should come together in the corner.

Trim the top off the centre support and slide it underneath the mitred seat joint. Screw through the back on the left and right side into the wall to secure the breakfast nook to the wall. Lie down under the pew and finish by pre-drilling at a slight angle, then screw the cleats into the bottom of the seat.

Screw the supports to the floor through pre-existing anchor holes.


Dry fit the pew nook before final assembly. Make adjustments with the skill saw to get perfect joints where necessary. Sand the edges where the skill saw cut through the pew seat.


Always wear safety glasses when working with wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Church pew, 72 inches
  • 4 Sawhorses
  • 4 Bar clamps 24 inches
  • Cordless screwgun
  • Carpenter's protractor (angle finder)
  • Skill saw
  • Two 2-by-4,s, 32 inches
  • Four 2-by-4's 12 inches
  • Drill bit, 3/16 inch
  • 24 wood screws 3 inches
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About the Author

Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.