Outdoor Slat Bench Instructions

Overview

An aesthetically interesting bench style to build is to construct your own mid-century, George Nelson style slat bench. The sturdy construction of a slat bench's many parts provide ventilation and easy water run-off that helps protect its wood makes it last longer. Instead of a single piece of wood making the seat, several strips of wood are used to construct the seat of a slat bench.

Planning Your Bench

One of the advantages of constructing a slat bench top instead of a solid, one-piece bench seat is that if one of the slats becomes damaged, you can simply replace that one slat instead of the full top. Select thin strips of 1-inch-by-2-inch, 2-inch-by-2-inch or 2-inch-by-3-inch outdoor wood, preferably cedar, teak or pressure-treated lumber for the bench's top. Determine the desired width of your bench top and calculate the amount of strips--lined up lengthwise--it would take to cover that width measurement. Decide the length of your slat bench and cut the wood strips to this length.

Constructing the Slat Top

To recreate the classic suspended look of a slat bench, cut three pieces of 1-by-3 wood using the width measurement of your bench. Each slat will be positioned on top and connected to these pieces. Use the first slat to determine how far from the edge you want your support bars to be, typically 6 inches. Lay the slat upside down on the floor and then lay the support bars perpendicularly across it--one near each end and one in the middle. After putting a dab of wood glue where the first slat will connect to each support bar, screw in place with a 2-inch wood screw through the support bars and into the slat. Connect the slat at the other end of the support bars in the same manner. When filling in the rest of the slat bench top, space the slats ½ to 1 inch apart to make a strong slat bench.

Connecting Legs

Purchase 4-inch-by-4-inch post wood of the same type used for the bench top to make the bench legs. Determine the overall height of your bench and then subtract the thickness of the bench top from that measurement. Use this measurement to cut four legs for the bench. Turn the bench top upside down and position the 4-inch-by-4-inch legs where they will go. Take another measurement---the length of the space between each set of legs at the ends. Cut two more pieces of the 4-inch-by-4-inch posts using this measurement, and wood glue and bolt each end to the top of the legs. This piece will act as a brace for the two leg sets at each end and will be the way to screw the legs to the bench top. After lining up the leg ensembles to the support strips of the slat bench at each end, pre-drill holes through the 4-inch-by-4-inch support bars, apply wood glue to the support strips and screw or bolt in place. Use rust-free finishing nails and wood glue to attach a long strip of 1-inch-by-3-inch wood of the same type to the front and back of the slat bench, just below the slats to conceal the connection between the leg supports and the support bars. Sand the rough edges smooth and apply a layer of outdoor stain or wood protectant, if desired.

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About this Author

Naima Manal's articles on health, diet, nutrition, alternative medicine, education, parenting, crafts, travel, home and garden and home improvement have appeared on eHow, Garden Guides, Trails, ConnectED, Helium and others. Manal received her B.S. degree in biology/pre-medical studies from Molloy College in 1994 and has been a freelance writer, teacher and homeschooling mom since 1993.

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