How to Build a Cedar Garden Bench


No matter how much you love gardening, it is always nice to have a rustic garden bench to sit on when you need a break--especially if it is located in a cool, shady spot where you can enjoy the view. This design, adapted from a bench found in "Build it Better Yourself" by Rodale Press, is so simple, and uses such a small amount of material, you may even want to make more than one. (See Reference 1.)

Preparing the Bench Pieces

Step 1

Cut all boards as indicated in the "Things You'll Need" list.

Step 2

Turn over the bench top (the 2 inch by 12 inch by 64 inches long piece) and mark a line 8 inches in from each end, drawing a straight line all the way across the width of the board. Draw a second line parallel to the first, 1 1/2 inches further in on each end.

Step 3

Use your saw to make repeated, close, parallel cuts in the board between those lines to create a channel for the legs to sit in. Cuts should be uniformly about ½ inch deep the entire 1-1/2 inch width.

Step 4

Use a hammer and chisel to remove the wood in the channels, so that they are very smooth and level all the way across.

Step 5

Cut a small "V" shaped notch in the center bottom of each leg (the 2-inch-by-12-inch-by-16-inch long pieces).

Step 6

Measure and mark the center of the legs from side to side and top to bottom. Draw a rectangle 1 1/2 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches long in the center of each leg.

Step 7

Use the drill and bit to make holes along the inside lines of the rectangles, to remove as much wood as possible. Finish removing wood and smoothing the interior of the holes with hammer and chisel.

Step 8

Round off the ends of the stretcher (the 2 inch by 4 inch by 55 inches long piece) with the saw. Use a rasp and sandpaper to smooth further, if desired.

Assembling the Bench

Step 1

Run a bead of carpenter's glue along the tops of each leg and insert them into the channels on the underside of the bench top. Fasten through the bench top and into the legs using 16d nails.

Step 2

Run the stretcher through both legs and adjust it so that it protrudes the same distance on the outside of each leg. Use a pencil to mark a line on the stretcher on each side of the legs. Remove the stretcher and lay it flat.

Step 3

Use the pencil marks as a guide to drill a 1/2 inch hole outside of each mark, and centered from the sides of the board. (The holes should ideally be spaced just slightly over 1 1/2 inches apart--for two holes on each end of the stretcher.)

Step 4

Put the stretcher back in place through the legs of the bench. You should now be able to see one hole on the inside and one hole on the outside of each leg. Place a dowel through each hole to hold the legs snugly in position.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear eye and ear protection when using power tools; and if you have long hair, tie it back to avoid serious accidents!

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Saw
  • 1 Cedar board, 2 inches by 12 inches, 8 feet long, cut into one piece 64 inches long, and two pieces 16 inches long each
  • 1 Cedar board, 2 inches by 4 inches, 8 feet long, cut to 55 inches long
  • 1 Wooden dowel, ½ inch by 36 inches long, cut into four pieces 3-inches long each
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Drill
  • Drill bit, ½ inch
  • Rasp
  • Sandpaper
  • 16d Nails (6 to 8)
  • Carpenter's glue


  • "Build it Better Yourself"; William H. Hylton, editor; 1982

Who Can Help

  • New Woodworkers: Another garden bench option
Keywords: garden bench, make a bench, DIY benches, cedar garden bench

About this Author

Deborah Stephenson is a freelance writer and artist, who brings over 25 years of both professional and life experience to her writings. Stephenson features a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She is an anthropologist & naturalist, and has published a field guide on Michigan's flora & fauna as well as numerous political and environmental articles.