Furntiture Builds · Outdoor

DIY Outdoor Bench

Lesson Learned: Who needs a tape measure when you have a bum?!

This bench build came as a result of the Instagram Builders Challenge!

I absolutely loved this challenge. The creative collaboration between Jason and me, and coming up with our unique and personal design was a blast. I also loved seeing where everyone else’s imagination took their designs. The creativity and talent of the Instagram builder community continues to amaze me. We actually picked a few of our favorites from the competition and linked to them at the end of this post!

So for those of you who aren’t familiar with an IG Builders Challenge, it is a competition where builders are tasked with taking a basic build plan and putting their own creative twist on it, and creating the finished piece within 3 weeks. This challenge (season 3) was based upon Ana White’s Porch Bench:

Since we followed the basic framework of Ana’s build plans, I am going to skip over some of the boring framework steps! You can easily adjust the dimensions to fit your needs and also amend the design as you wish!

What we changed and Why:

We wanted our bench to be a little less ‘boxy” and more colorful, so we planned to make the top support “wavy” and add in some back slats which would be a bold color. We also wanted personalize this bench as it will be our summer morning’s coffee spot, so we only needed 2 seats! Finally, we needed somewhere to put our coffee (and donuts for Jason) – so we figured we would add in a table!

How we built in our modifications:

Creating the wavy support:

Once we knew the width of the bench that we wanted, (no special science to this – we actually measured the width of our bums- not surprising mine was bigger than his- and added a few inches for each seat and then added 15 inches for the table) I taped together some pieces of paper so I could sketch out the shape. When sketching out your shape, please factor in the width of the wood you have for the support piece. We used a 2 x 10 – but if you want a larger curve you could easily glue 2 pieces together to achieve your required width.

I am no artist so this took me multiple attempts and tantrums!

Cut out your creation using scissors and trace your shape onto the piece of wood. Then, cut out the shape using a Jigsaw – this is slightly tricky since the curved lines are long. Make sure you have a sharp blade and that you have the wood securely clamped down to stop vibrations and it moving! You will probably need to sand a little to get a smooth line. Ours was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but sanding helped a lot!!

Once you have your funky shaped support piece cut out, secure it in place in the same manner as Ana White’s plans for her top support piece. Again you can see them here!

Then you can begin to create the rest of your bench! TIP: always test out your builds as you go along and remember to pose…

Since we would be installing the back’s X supports and slats, I knew now would be a good time to start sanding. I easily used my orbital sander to even out any of the rough edges from the Jigsaw!!

Create your back support design:

I will let you into a little secret…

At this moment in time, we planned to have this as the finished design for the back support. We continued with the build and added in the little table, the seat slats and even stained it. But something didn’t feel right, even when sitting on the bench and looking at it. So we went back to the drawing board to finish up the design. Soon enough we came up with this blue slatted back support…. 🙂

We used the left over pieces from the seat slats to make these slats. Cut them to size and attach with some wood glue and a few nails at an angle through the back – very simple. Just take your time measuring and cutting each slat to make sure they are accurate.

Building your little table:

First, let me apologize for the pictures being taken after the table was built- Yup you guessed it… Mr. Jason kept with his past theme of “I am too wrapped up in the build and I forgot to take pictures”.. So I hope you can see how it’s attached from these pictures and details!

Jason cut 2 pieces of 2×4’s, 2″ longer than the height we wanted the table to be. This allowed them to be secured, from behind, into the front seating support. To secure, he just used two 2 1/2″ wood screws. Make sure both pieces are level at the top because this will be what your slats fix onto and you don’t want a wonky top!! A wonky top = spilled coffee.

Once the 2 supports are in place, miter 2 pieces of 2 x 4 for the sides to a 45 degree angle on the outside end. This gave it a cleaner finish… see below for what I mean.

You will then need to miter the front piece with 45 degree angles on either end to fit the end. Again secure them in place from behind the front supports using 2 1/2″ wood screws. To secure to the back, use the same type of screws and affix. Again make sure they are level.

You will then need to fix another piece of 2 x 4 wood on the inside of the back support – this is what the opposite end of your table slats will fix to.

Cut slats to size and nail into place. Make sure the gaps are equal and the overhang is also equal on all 3 sides. To make sure the gaps were equal Jason used a pencil that was lying around – nothing high tech in our project builds!!

You can see in the below picture that the small nail holes were filled using stainable wood filler which makes them blend in nicely.

And one final finished picture because I love it so much!! Now all I need is our new deck to be built to place it on!!


Oh I almost forgot and this is probably a very important final step. You will need to seal your bench, especially if it will be left outside and exposed to rain. To do this we used Thompson’s Water Seal which is simply sprayed on and left to dry. Works perfectly!! I 100% recommend it.

There have been so many fantastic entries and I am completely blown away by the talent and creativity out there. You can view my blog post here highlighting my 6 favorite entries. I hope if my design does not fit your needs one of these will!!


2 thoughts on “DIY Outdoor Bench

  1. Outstanding! Would look perfect on my front porch too. If I had the tools I would certainly build! Great job and thanks for sharing with us. ❤

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