Working with Wood: Garden Bench .........

Here's a quick and simple garden bench - perfect for a weekend project and a great use for those unwanted building pallets.

Having had a load of paving bricks delivered recently, the wooden pallet on which they came seemed too good to use as firewood at our next BBQ... And I had purchased a Ryobi planer/thicknesser at the last Working with Wood exhibition in Canberra.

Using a hefty lump hammer I carefully removed two boards from the pallet. They were rough-sawn and a dull grey-brown. After removing the nails from the boards I ran them through the thicknesser (you can plane or sand them if you have a belt sander).


The timber emerged a lovely pink colour, and having dressed the timber all round, I was left with a couple of very fine boards of meranti or some similar Australian hardwood.

Okay, now for some details: Whether you use recycled timber or not, you will need the following:


2 @ 1000mm x 150mm x 20mm (or 40" x 6" x 3/4")
2 @ 300mm x 45mm x 45mm (or 12" x 1-1/2" x 1-1/2")
4 @ 600mm x 75mm x 20mm (or 24" x 3" x 3/4")
1 @ 850mm x 75mm x 20mm (or 33" x 3" x 3/4")


2 bolts @ 90mm x 3/8
2 roofing bolts @ 60mm x 1/4"
2 roofing bolts @ 50mm x 1/4"


Cut all pieces to length (I have included imperial measurements for those who are not metricated). The four 600mm pieces are the legs. The ends need to be cut at an angle of approximately 25 degrees and they need to be cut so that the ends are parallel with each other (so that when they are joined in a cross, the tops and bottoms are horizontal). Drill a 3/8" hole through each pair approximately 180mm (7") from one end - this will be for the bolt that forms the axis for the cross as well as the attachment point for the central cross brace.

The 600mm (24") piece is the central cross brace. Into the end-grain of this piece drill a 3/8" hole about 60mm (2-1/2") deep into each end of the timber. Then, using a 30mm (1-1/2") hole saw, drill a hole centred about 80mm (3") from each end - this will enable a nut to be fitted to each of the bolts attaching the central brace to the crossed legs. Bolt this assembly together. Do not discard the inserts from the hole saw holes - they will become spacers.

Drill two 1/4" holes into the square section pieces to align roughly with the tops of the legs. Clamp these pieces across the upper part of the crossed legs and use the holes as drill guides to drill the 1/4" holes for the roofing bolts. You will notice that one leg is firmly against the square block, but the other is now 20mm (3/4") away - that is where you will use the round spacers created by the hole saw - one at each end of the bench. Use the shorter roofing bolt to attach the lag pressing against the square material. Insert the spacer between the square material and the leg where the gap is, and use the longer roofing bolt to attach it to the square material. Repeat at the other end of the bench.

Now place the two seat pieces squarely on the frame. and place a piece of scrap material between them at either end - this will allow water to drain if the bench is left out in the rain. Drill holes to accept brass screws and screw the seat top pieces to the square section material joining the crossed legs.

Now give the seat a good sanding finishing with organoil or scandavian teak oil (the Triton orbital sander attachment works wonders here). You might want to finish the legs with an acrylic varnish - pay close attention to the end-grain on the feet so that it forms a protection against moisture. Enjoy!

Copyright Jerry Everard
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