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DIY Outdoor Bench Inspired By Williams Sonoma (So Easy!)

Use $35 in wood and supplies to make this perfectly modern DIY outdoor bench that looks like a $1,300 Williams Sonoma find. No nails or screws required!

Skills Required: Beginner. You’ll learn how to make a bench the easiest way possible. I believe the most difficult part of this DIY project is using a table saw, which isn’t really hard (take your time!).

DIY outdoor bench

Every porch or outdoor space needs a DIY outdoor bench, at least that’s what Steve and I decided the other day. Actually Steve has had the concept for this beautiful bench in his head for awhile.

He had looked around at garden benches and wanted to make something without screws and hardware . . . completely with adhesive. Yet he had some other qualifications as well – the bench had to be modern, inexpensive, load bearing (no falling apart please), and look great. We also wanted it to be an easy woodworking project so anyone could do it.

This DIY outdoor bench project meets all those qualifications and more!

DIY Outdoor Bench

Here’s how this DIY garden bench came about. It was quite a coincidence that we were flipping through a Williams Sonoma Home catalog the other day and found this Larnaca Outdoor Coffee Table that looks somewhat similar:

williams sonoma larnaca outdoor coffee table

yet has one BIG difference. The Larnaca coffee table costs $1,295, while Steve’s version is $35. Now, ours is outdoor seating while the Larnaca is technically a coffee table, but the idea is the same. You can always modify the size of this DIY outdoor bench to fit your desired specifications.

So here’s how to build this DIY bench, with a finished size of 16″ high x 40″ long x 13.5″ deep. You’ll find that building a bench is much easier than you think! Here’s how we built this piece of furniture.


Gather These Supplies

  • Regular 2 x 4s – pine, not pressure treated (see Cut List below; also you may want to use pressure treated wood if your bench is going to be exposed to the elements, though it is more expensive)
  • Exterior grade Liquid Nails or Titebond III (or other construction adhesive made for wood)
  • Bar clamps
  • Thompson’s WaterSeal and Stain (Nutmeg)
  • Paintbrush
  • Rag
  • Table saw
  • T-square – or something to make sure edges are square
  • Hand held belt sander with a 80-grit and 120-grit
  • Sanding blocks – 80-grit and 120-grit
  • Surface protection – cardboard box, tarp, etc
  • Optional – drill and four feet if you don’t want the bench to touch the patio or ground directly

Cut List – you might notice that the measurements don’t quite add up – this is because the ends were milled off and sanded to get the resulting finished size bench.

  • 33.5″ long (five pieces)
  • 40″ long (four pieces)
  • 16″ long (ten pieces)
  • 12.75″ long (eight pieces)
Cutting pine boards on a table saw

Step One: Do this before you cut your pieces down to size. Using the table saw, “mill” the 2″ edges of every piece of wood so that you get a very square edge (as opposed to the rounded edges that come on a 2×4). This will give your bench a more modern look.

You can also use a planer to create perfectly parallel faces on your wood. Wood purchased from the hardware store is hardly ever even, hence the need to cut it down as Steve has done.

Cut wood pieces for a modern bench

Step Two: Cut the pieces of wood according to the cut list above. Keep in mind, these measurements produced a finished bench that is 16″ high x 40″ long x 13.5″ deep . . . AND a little extra was left for the milling and sanding process. If you want to customize the size of your bench, you’ll need to adjust these cut lengths.

Two pieces of wood held together with a clamp

Step Three: You’re going to use your pieces of wood to essentially create a box joint – and this is kind of like a puzzle (Jenga?). So try to follow me as I describe it! You’ll need to have your box clamps on hand and ready, along with the Liquid Nails.

Place a 40″ piece of wood on the ground, with a 33.5″ piece in the center. On each end, you’ll place a 16″ long piece perpendicular to the other two pieces, as shown in the photo above.

Make sure everything is even and as flush as possible (and use a t-square or other item if necessary to for a right angle), then glue into place and clamp.

Applying Liquid Nails to a wooden pine board
Clamps on the wood bench with a right angle
Clamps holding the first layer of glued pieces together

Step Four: These additional photos show you what you’ll be doing to assemble your DIY outdoor bench. You’ll be adding Liquid Nails to the wood, setting it up in your pattern as shown, then adding clamps to hold it together.

Remember that you’re doing a modified box joint, so you’ll have one long piece of wood, then one short piece, then long, then short, and so on.

Your best bet is to follow this process:

  1. organize the pieces of wood without gluing FIRST so that you understand how the bench goes together;
  2. begin at one end of your bench and start assembling with the Liquid Nails, using the clamps as placeholders as you go along;
  3. continue add Liquid Nails, wood, and increase the size of your box clamps until the bench is fully assembled

It’s seriously way easier than it sounds – and doesn’t take long to do once you get into your rhythm!

Final bench assembled and held together to dry with clamps

Step Five: Once your bench is full assembled as shown, keep it clamped and let it dry overnight. You’ll see that some of the edges aren’t even, but we’re going to remedy that!

Unstained, finished bench sitting in the middle of grass
Sanding the top of a bench with a belt sander

Step Six: Undo the clamps and sand with the belt sander to get everything even. Don’t forget to sand with the grain! Sand until it’s completely smooth and flat. Do this on the legs, too. Then wipe away all of the sanding dust.

If your bench needs quite a bit of even-ing out, start with the 80-grit and finish with the 120-grit.

Bench sitting on cardboard with Thompson's water seal, a brush, and a rag on top
Painting Thompson's water seal onto a DIY wood bench

Step Seven: Use your stain to paint your DIY bench. Applying stain is relatively easy. You can use a brush, paint it on, then wipe it off.

You can read the instructions on your container to make sure you are following the process for that particular stain. Some people even apply stain with a rag and then wipe it off with a second rag to get a look they like.

Removing excess stain from the wood with a rag

Note: Steve used two coats of stain and the stain lifted the grain of the wood slightly so that it doesn’t feel 100% smooth as it did right after sanding. To prevent this, you’ll probably want to apply a coat of stain, then sand with 120-grit, then stain again.

Our stain was outdoor stain AND sealer, and our project is currently under a porch covering (though it is exposed to the elements). Depending on how much your DIY bench will see sunlight and rain, you’ll likely want to make the final project a little tougher with some hard core polyurethane.

Four screw in metal feet

Step Eight: This step is completely optional. Our bench is sitting near ground and with the amount of bugs we have in the south, we wanted it a little raised up off of the ground.

Drilling into the bench leg to add the feet
Placing the plastic foot piece into the drilled hole
Screwing the foot into the bottom of the bench leg

Steve purchased furniture feet, drilled holes in the legs, then inserted. It’s very easy.

Your DIY outdoor bench is complete!

DIY bench

And it pretty much looks amazing.

DIY wood bench

We already had a rain here so I also wanted to show you how well the stain works – the water just pools on top and comes right off . . . no soaking into the wood!

Water beading on the top of the Thompson's water seal

So let’s review this DIY outdoor bench: $35 in supplies, easy to cut, easy to assemble, no nails or screws required.

How to build a wood bench

What do you think? If you have any similar projects or if you’ve done something like this and would like to share your tips, we’d love to hear them in the comments! Thank you!


We hope you enjoyed our DIY outdoor bench! Also I keep getting questions about the planters – I did make those as well! Find them here.

Yield: 1 bench

DIY Bench

How to build a wood bench

Use $35 in wood and supplies to make this perfectly modern DIY wood bench that looks like a $1,300 Williams Sonoma find. No nails or screws required!

Prep Time 1 hour
Active Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $35

Materials

  • Regular 2 x 4s – pine (see cut list in notes)
  • Titebond III
  • Thompson's WaterSeal
  • Paintbrush
  • Rags
  • T-Square
  • Sanding Blocks - 80-grit and 120-grit
  • Cardboard box or other surface protection

Instructions

  1. Using the table saw, “mill” the 2″ edges of every piece of wood so that you get a very square edge (as opposed to the rounded edges that come on a 2×4). This will give your bench a more modern look.
  2. Cut the pieces of wood according to the cut list in the notes. Keep in mind, these measurements produced a finished bench that is 16″ high x 40″ long x 13.5″ deep . . . AND a little extra was left for the milling and sanding process. If you want to customize the size of your bench, you’ll need to adjust these cut lengths.
  3. Use your pieces to create a box joint. Place a 40″ piece of wood on the ground, with a 33.5″ piece in the center. On each end, you’ll place a 16″ long piece perpendicular to the other two pieces, as shown in the photo above. Make sure everything is even and as flush as possible (and use a t-square or other item if necessary to for a right angle), then glue into place and clamp.
  4. Add Liquid Nails to the wood, setting it up in your pattern as shown in the final image then adding clamps to hold it together. Remember that you’re doing a modified box joint, so you’ll have one long piece of wood, then one short piece, then long, then short, and so on.
  5. Once your bench is full assembled, keep it clamped and let it dry overnight.
  6. Undo the clamps and sand with the belt sander to get everything even. Don’t forget to sand with the grain! Sand until it’s completely smooth and flat. Do this on the legs, too. Then wipe away all of the sanding dust.
  7. Use your stain to paint your DIY bench. Applying stain is relatively easy. You can use a brush, paint it on, then wipe it off. Seal with Thompson's Water Seal.
  8. Add furniture feet to keep your bench off of the ground. Drill a hole, insert the foot, and repeat on all four corners of the bench bottom.

Notes

Cut List

  • 33.5″ long (five pieces)
  • 40″ long (four pieces)
  • 16″ long (ten pieces)
  • 12.75″ long (eight pieces)

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Did you make this project?

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If you love DIY benches, I’ve got another one you’re going to want to check out:

This modern wooden bench was inspired by a Crate and Barrel find for $999 - except we made our version for less than $60. Easy to follow tutorial!

Crate and Barrel Inspired Modern Wooden Bench

This DIY coffee table was inspired by a West Elm find for $999 - except we made our version for less than $50 using pallet wood. It's easy to do!

AND if you want to see another inspired knockoff we did – check out our West Elm DIY coffee table. We made it for $45 . . . original price of $999!

Jeanie Manser

Tuesday 25th of October 2022

I LOVE that bench. I'm gonna get my husband to try it! We redid our yard this summer and it was a huge project! Bigger than we expected (to the point of needing a dumpster rental) and we're finally at the point of decorating it. I've started putting in plants and vegetation, but this bench I think would look great on our little patio! Thank you for the tutorial!

jonathan fuapo

Wednesday 5th of October 2022

perfectly made and love it most

jonathan fuapo

Wednesday 5th of October 2022

Admire it most the way it is constructed. i would like to see and get ideas on how it is made.

Ildiko

Wednesday 4th of May 2022

I just calculated the lumber cost and it is about $100 with tax included. + the treatment and the feet if you don't want it to sit on the ground. + the tools if you don't have them. Definitely not a $35 bench!

Amy

Tuesday 17th of May 2022

This post was originally written seven years ago. With the changing costs of lumber and inflation I'm not going to recalculate it for a minute. And I don't count tools in project costs. I have no idea what tools people have, and a lot of the projects allow for wood to be cut at Home Depot, or people can borrow tools, and they don't rebuy for every project (not to mention used vs. new tools, etc). A project costs what it costs and the tools will always be separate.

Jose Morales

Tuesday 1st of March 2022

How many and what length should I buy the 2x4's to minimize waste?

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