How to build a bench with a backrest

Written by kathy eastwood
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How to build a bench with a backrest
Building a bench with a backrest is easier than you think. (old bench image by Josh from

One of the easiest benches with a backrest to build is one made from weather-resistant wood. Its simple design looks like a throwback to yesteryear when placed next to a tree or in a garden and won't take much time to build. One afternoon is all that is needed to create a workable and attractive bench that is comfortable, inviting and lasting. Leave the bench as is or finish it with stain or polyurethane to add colour or shine.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Circular saw
  • Screw gun
  • 1 by 3 by 8-foot pieces of wood (2)
  • 2 by 10 by 8-foot piece of wood
  • 2 by 4 by 8-foot pieces of wood (5)
  • 1 pound of 3-inch deck screws
  • 1/4 pound of 6d galvanised casing nails
  • 3/8-inch by 5-inch bolts with nuts and washers (2 each)
  • Clamps
  • Carpenter's square

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  1. 1

    Use any type of wood you wish as long as it is pretreated and water-resistant. Cut the wood into the following lengths using a circular saw with a square to ensure straight, square cuts. Cut both 1 by 3 by 8-foot pieces of wood into three pieces, measuring 24, 22 and 50 inches. Cut the 2 by 10 by 8-foot piece and two of the 2 by 4 by 8-foot pieces into two 47-inch pieces. Cut one of the 2 by 4 by 8-foot pieces into three pieces, one at 36 inches and two at 28 inches. Cut the other two 2 by 4 by 8-foot pieces into five pieces: two at 14 inches, one 11-1/2 inches, one 18-inch piece and one at 20-1/2 inches.

  2. 2

    Cut the seat and back supports, which are the 2 by 10 by 8-foot piece and two of the 2 by 4 by 8-foot pieces, respectively, at a 45-degree angle, 1-inch down from the ends.

  3. 3

    Place one front leg piece and one back leg piece on a workbench and place the 18-inch brace 3 inches from the bottom of the legs. The front leg is one of the cut 14-inch pieces, and the back legs are the 11-1/2-inch pieces. Use the 3-inch screws angled slightly when fastening the leg brace.

  4. 4

    Align the second half of the front leg with the first and screw it to the leg brace, then place the seat support between the front legs and sink a single 3-inch screw through the front leg into the seat support.

  5. 5

    Place the backrest support on the legs at a right angle with the seat support. Mark this position on the seat support then screw a 3-inch screw down the middle of the support into the leg brace.

  6. 6

    Use a clamp to seal the backrest support, seat support and rear leg using your mark as a guide. Drill 3/8 inch through the middle of this assembly and use a 3/8 by 5-inch bolt with washer through the hole and tighten.

  7. 7

    Assemble the back leg parts as the first except reverse the back support and rear leg. Place the stretcher horizontally about 3 inches above the workbench, centre it between the legs and screw the leg braces into the ends.

  8. 8

    Turn the bench over, place the seat board in the middle over both leg assemblies and place it against the front ends of the seat supports. Screw the seat board to the seat supports with two screws at least 1 inch from the edge. Align the 2 by 10 with the seat board. Use a pencil, as a spacer between the 2 by 10 and the seat board, to leave about a 5/16-inch space then screw two 3-inch deck screws into the supports. Repeat this step with the rear 2 by 4.

  9. 9

    Turn the bench right side up and place the rear backrest 2 by 4 on the pencil spacer holding the ends against the seat board then screw it to the seat back braces. Once in place, remove the pencil.

Tips and warnings

  • Be sure to use a square to help guide the saw for square cuts.

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