Perennials & Ornamental Grasses

Build massive wooden bench yourself - material, instructions & tips

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Solid wooden benches have their own charm. If you are also built yourself, you can be extremely proud. With our instructions, it is guaranteed to work.

© nidafoto - Fotolia.com

Plastic benches are good without a doubt. But depending on the quality of workmanship, they can wobble, fade and the material can even become brittle. If you rely on long-lasting solutions that are also significantly safer, you should definitely consider building a wooden bench. We will now tell you which materials are needed, how to do this and what needs to be considered during construction.

Why it's worth using wood

In times of cheap plastic garden benches or modern metal models, one or the other may wonder why it is worth the effort to build a massive wooden bench yourself. The answer is very simple: wood has a particularly rustic charm that no other material can match. In addition, such wooden benches are much more stable and safe with little maintenance.

Important preliminary considerations

Convinced? Then it's time to start planning. To do this, you should first ask yourself the following questions:

»Which wood should be used?
Larch wood is extremely practical because the hardwood is less often attacked by insects and fungi than other types of wood. In addition, it is very acid-resistant and less sensitive to bad weather conditions. But teak, eucalyptus, robinia or cedar wood is also ideal for garden furniture due to the essential oils it contains.

»How wide and deep should the seat be?
A depth of 43 to 50 centimeters is perceived by many as pleasant. A seat width of at least 45 centimeters should be planned for each person - the more space, the more comfortable.

»Which seat height is comfortable?
Should the seat be slightly arched? If so, this must be planed accordingly.

»Are armrests preferred?
Depending on personal taste, a height of 20 to 28 centimeters makes sense.

»How wide should these be?
5 to 10 centimeters are common.

»Should the armrest be slightly beveled?
An angle of around 15 degrees is quite comfortable.

»How high should the backrest be?
Unless the bench is built specifically for children, it should be taller than 50 centimeters.

Required material

Below we have put together a shopping list:

materialHints
1 tree trunk
  • as a seat and armrest
  • the feet can also be built from parts
  • if there is enough wood left, the holder for the backrest can also be made from it.
" Note: The length of the tree trunk varies according to the desired size of the bank. The longer the trunk, the more seating there is. We provide further information on this under the point “Important preliminary considerations”.
Example: two-seater
  • 1 meter tree trunk as a seat and backrest
  • 50 centimeters for the two feet (if the tree trunk is divided for the feet. Otherwise, two times 50 centimeters if blocks are to be sawn from it
  • four squares for the construction of two armrests
Peeling iron, also called bark peeler or tree peeler (my favorite)to remove the bark
chainsawto split the tree trunk
Hand or electric planer (my favorite)For smoothing the surfaces
Angle grinder with matching milling discfor milling recesses
Drill with wood drill and Forstner drill (e.g. 50 mm)for pre-drilling holes
long wood screwsfor attaching the feet and backrest
hammerfor driving in the screws
ratchetfor tightening the screws
protractorfor checking the angle of the armrest and backrest
2 squared timbers (e.g. 55 x 55 mm)as a holder for the backrest
Wood protection or oilGlaze to protect the wood - colorless, available in natural wood colors or strong colors (such as white, red or blue)

Building a wooden bench - step by step instructions

Step 1: process tree bark

If not already prepared: First the tree trunk is freed from the bark with a peeling iron. This is particularly easy to do with tree trunks that have been stored in the shade for six to 12 months. The cambium layer almost falls off by itself. If you want it to be completely clean, you should work clean on the edges. A wafer-thin layer of bark can also look very natural and chic.

Step 2: saw through the tree trunk

The next step is to saw through the tree trunk using a chainsaw to separate the wood for the seat and backrest from the rest of the trunk that is to be used for the feet.

Step 3: saw the seat into place

Now the part of the trunk for the bench has to be sawed through again. The slower the cuts, the more even the cut edges. A central cut would be optimal, as the finished seat looks very even.

Step 4: sand the surfaces

So that the surfaces are nice and level, they are sanded piece by piece with the planer. You can test whether everything is nice and smooth by carefully running your palm over it - but be careful: wear work gloves!

Step 5: flatten the backrest

Optional: Next, the backrest should be flattened a little with the angle grinder or electric slicer - so the whole thing does not look so bulky and requires less space.

Step 6: mill recesses

Now cut-outs are cut into the lower half of the tree trunk using an angle grinder. The round feet are screwed into this later. While milling, the foot should be held regularly in the recess to see whether the whole is flush.

Step 7: clean edges

Before the seat is screwed together, all hard edges should be broken and cleaned to minimize the risk of injury and make painting easier later.

Step 8: prepare feet

The feet of the seat should be prepared at the latest now. Conveniently, these are made from a piece of the tree trunk by removing two sides with a chainsaw.

Step 9: set up the bench for a test

Now is the perfect time to set up the bank on a trial basis. Pay attention to the following points:

  • Does the overall picture look coherent?
  • Is the distance between the feet optimal?
  • Is the lateral distance between the feet and the seat the same?
  • If not, you can now measure and work again.

Step 10: assemble feet

If everything fits, the feet can then be attached to the seat from below. After the holes have been pre-drilled, the wood screws or metal rods are hammered into the wood with a hammer and then tightened with a ratchet.

Step 11: pre-drill holes

Now the holes for the backrest can be pre-drilled. For this, a Forstner bit is ideally suited to create sufficiently large holes for the squared timbers.

Step 12: assemble the backrest

The squared timbers are then converted to hold the backrest. One end is carved with the angle grinder so that they fit into the holes just prepared. As mentioned above, it is much more convenient if the backrest is not installed at a 90 degree angle to the seat, but rather is slightly inclined. To ensure that the angle of inclination is the same for both squared timbers, you should not work according to your feelings, but rather measure the dimensions with an protractor.

Step 13: attach the backrest

As soon as the squared timbers fit into the pilot holes, the backrest can be fastened with sufficiently long wood screws.

Step 14: apply wood protection

To protect the wood, it should be glazed with an oil. In most cases, a primer is also recommended, which protects the wood from discolouration caused by blue stain and fungus. After it has dried sufficiently, one or two coats of varnish should be applied.

This video tutorial shows what it could look like:

Tips for building a massive wooden bench

tipHints
slim seat or backrestIf the seat or backrest from half a tree trunk is too bulky, you can split the trunk halves again.
soft edgesClassic wooden benches have hard edges. But if you like it romantic and playful, you can also break the corners at a larger angle so that they become nice and round.
Metal struts for holding the backrestIf you have little confidence in square timbers, you can also use metal struts to connect the seat with the backrest. The woody charm is somewhat lost as a result, but the construction is even more robust.
assemble the feet more easilyIf milling out the recesses for the feet is too complex, the seat can also be placed on the feet and then connected with a long metal rod. The visible holes can be hidden by inserting a wooden stick with the diameter of the holes and sawing them off accordingly. Alternatively, you can also build plugs from the remains of the trunk. In both cases, excess material should be removed with a planer so that the seat is nice and level.

Care tips for wooden benches

The maintenance effort is very dependent on the type of wood. While a wooden bench made of softwood (e.g. pine, beech or spruce) has to be sanded and varnished regularly, hardwoods are much easier to care for.

Regardless, the garden furniture should be cleaned properly at least at the beginning and end of the gardening season. However, aggressive cleaners are not suitable for this. Instead, we recommend soap suds made from natural soap, which not only maintain the wood thanks to the vegetable oils it contains, but also ensure re-greasing. The bench should then be rubbed dry so that no soap residue remains on the wood.

" Attention: Microfiber cloths damage the wood by removing essential oils. Simple cotton towels are more suitable. But sponges or a brush can also be used.

In addition, after basic cleaning, treating the wood with a maintenance oil two to three times a year makes sense. When choosing the agent, however, it should be noted that colorless variants generally do not offer UV protection. This can cause the color of the wood to turn gray. Apart from that, the oils should be free of solvents, otherwise the natural protection of the wood will be damaged. Cotton towels are also suitable for application, but also pads and brushes.

Creating an oasis in everyday life - our best decorating tips

Is there still some inspiration missing on how best to stage the garden bench? Then follow our decorative tips for an oasis of wellbeing in the garden.

  • Seat cushions: Unfortunately, wood has an unsightly habit: it is hard. But you can make yourself really comfortable with pillows or cushions.
  • Rose arch: If you like it particularly romantic, you can place a rose arch behind or over the garden bench. The second variant in particular offers a natural source of shade. By the way, not only climbing roses are suitable for planting the rose arch, but also forest vines.
  • Flowerpots: If a rose arch is too large, flowers in rustic pots will of course also be enchanting.
  • Parasol: To protect yourself from direct solar radiation, a parasol can also be set up. In the meantime, there are also numerous models that appear rustic and therefore fit perfectly with a solid wooden bench.
  • Mountable table: Small wooden tables, which can be mounted on the armrest, are suitable for storing a glass or storing a book. If you choose a swiveling model, you can also work / read comfortably on a laptop or tablet.

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