Building a massive wooden bench yourself – material, instructions & tips

Building a massive wooden bench yourself - material, instructions & tips

Massive wooden benches have their own charm. If you are also self-built then you can be very proud. With our instructions it works guaranteed.

Building a massive wooden bench yourself - material, instructions & tips
© nidafoto –

Plastic benches are good, without question. But depending on the build quality, they can wobble, fade and even become brittle. If you rely on durable solutions that are also much safer, you should definitely consider the construction of a wooden bench. We will tell you now which materials are needed for this, how to do it and what to look for in the construction.

Why it pays to rely on wood

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

Important preliminary considerations

Convinced? Then it’s time to plan. For this you should first ask the following questions:

Which wood should be used?
Very practical is larch wood, as the hardwood is less infested than other types of wood by insects and fungi. In addition, it is very acid resistant and less sensitive to bad weather conditions. But also teak, eucalyptus, robinia or cedar wood is due to the contained essential oils ideal for garden furniture.

How wide and deep should the seat be?
A depth of 43 to 50 centimeters is perceived by many as pleasant. In addition, a seat width of at least 45 centimeters per person should be planned – the more space, the more convenient.

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

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

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

Should the armrest be slightly chamfered?
An angle of about 15 degrees is quite comfortable.

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

Required material

Below we have put together a shopping list:

1 tree trunkas a seat and backrestparts can also be used to build the feetif enough wood is left over it can be made of the holder for the backrest.»Note: The length of the tree trunk varies according to the desired size of the bank. The longer the trunk, the more seat area results accordingly. Further information can be found under “Important preliminary considerations”.

Example: two-seater1 meter tree trunk as seat and backrest50 centimeters for the two feet (if the tree trunk is divided for the feet, otherwise two times 50 centimeters, if blocks are to be sawed out of it)four squared timbers for the construction of two armrests
Peeling iron, also called peeler or tree peelerto remove the bark
chainsawto split the tree trunk
Hand or electric planerFor smoothing the surfaces
Angle grinder complete with matching milling discfor milling out recesses
Drilling machine with wood drill and Forstner bit (eg 50 mm)for pre-drilling holes
long wood screwsfor securing the feet and backrest
hammerfor driving in the screws
ratchetfor tightening the screws
protractorfor checking the angles of armrest and backrest
2 squared timbers (eg 55 x 55 mm)as a holder for the backrest
Wood protection or oilGlaze for the protection of the wood – colorless, available in natural wood shades or strong colors (like white, red or blue)

Build a wooden bench – step by step instructions

Step 1: Edit tree bark

Unless already prepared bought: First, the tree trunk is freed from the tree bark with a peel iron. This is especially easy with tree trunks that have been shaded for six to twelve months. So the cambium layer almost falls off by itself. If you want it very clean, you should work clean, especially on the edges. A very thin residual layer of bark can also be very natural and chic.

Step 2: saw through tree trunk

In the next step, the log is sawed through with a chainsaw to separate the wood for the seat and back from the rest of the trunk to be used for the feet.

Step 3: Cut the bench

Now the part of the trunk for the bench must also be sawn through again. The slower the cuts, the smoother the cut edges. Optimal would be a central cut, since the finished seat looks so very even.

Step 4: Sand surfaces

So that the surfaces are nice and even, they are ground off with the planer piece by piece. You can test whether everything is nice and smooth by carefully moving it over with the palm of your hand – but beware: wear work gloves!

Step 5: Flatten the backrest

Optional: Next, the backrest should be slightly flattened with the angle grinder or electric planer – so the whole thing does not seem so bulky and requires less space.

Step 6: Cut recesses

Now recesses are milled into the lower tree trunk half with an angle grinder. In these later, the round feet are screwed. During milling, the foot should be kept in the recess regularly to see if it is flush.

Step 7: Clean edges

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

Step 8: Prepare feet

At least now, the feet of the bench should be prepared. Conveniently, these are made from one piece of the tree trunk by removing two sides with a chainsaw.

Step 9: Place the bank to the test

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

  • Does the overall picture look visually consistent?
  • Is the distance of 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, then the feet can be mounted from below on the seat. After the holes have been pre-drilled, the wood screws or metal rods are hammered harder 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 purpose, a Forstner drill is ideally suited to create sufficiently large holes for the squared lumber.

Step 12: Fit the backrest

Subsequently, the squared timbers are converted to support the backrest. An 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 mounted at a 90 degree angle to the seat but is slightly inclined. So that the angle of inclination is the same for both square timbers, it should not be worked to feel, but the measurement should be checked with a protractor.

Step 13: Attach the backrest

As soon as the square timbers fit in the pilot holes, the backrest can be fixed with sufficiently long wood screws.

Step 14: Apply wood preservation

To protect the wood, it should be glazed with an oil. In most cases, a primer is also recommended, which protects the wood against discoloration due to blueness and fungal attack. After this has dried sufficiently, one or two coats of varnish should be applied.

This video tutorial shows what it might look like:

Tips for building a massive wooden bench

slim seat or backrestIf the seat or backrest of half a tree trunk is too massive, the trunk halves can also divide again.
soft edgesClassically, massive wooden benches have hard edges. But if you like it more romantic and playful, you can also break the corners at a larger angle, so that they are nice and round.
Metal struts for the support of the backrestThose who have little confidence in squared timbers can also use metal braces to connect the seat with the backrest. As a result, the woody charm is somewhat lost, but the construction is even more robust.
to assemble the feet easierIf the milling of the recesses is too expensive for the feet, the seat can also be placed on the feet and then connected to a long metal bar. The visible holes can be easily hidden by inserting a wooden rod with the diameter of the holes and sawing off accordingly. Alternatively, one can also build plugs from wood remnants of the trunk. In both cases, excess material should be removed with a planer, so that the seat is nicely flat.

Care tips for wooden benches

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

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

»Attention: Microfibre cloths damage the wood by removing important oils. Better are simple cotton towels suitable. But also sponges or a brush can be used.

In addition, after the basic cleaning treatment of the wood with a care oil two to three times a year makes sense. When choosing the agent, however, it should be noted that colorless variants usually offer no UV protection. This can turn the color of the wood gray. Apart from that, the oils should be free from solvents, otherwise the natural protection of the wood will be damaged. Also suitable for applying cotton towels, but also pads and brushes.

Create an oasis in everyday life – our best Dekotipps

Is there still some inspiration for how best to put the garden bench in the limelight? Then follow our decoration tips for a oasis of well-being in the garden.

  • Seat Cushions: Unfortunately, wood has an ugly habit: it’s hard. But with cushions or cushions you can really make yourself comfortable.
  • Rosenbogen: If you like it especially romantic, you can put a rose bow behind or over the garden bench . Especially the second variant offers a natural source of shadow. Incidentally, not only climbing roses are suitable for planting the rose arch, but also clematis.
  • Flower pots: If a rose arch is too big, of course, flowers in rustic pots are also charming.
  • Parasol: In order to protect yourself from direct sunlight, a parasol can also be set up. Meanwhile, there are also numerous models that look rustic and therefore fit well with a massive wooden bench.
  • Mountable table: Small wooden tables can be fitted to the armrest to put down a glass or to put down a book. If you decide on a swiveling model, you can also work / read comfortably on a laptop or tablet.

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