Build A Courtyard Bench

  • Build A Courtyard Bench

Traditionally made of teak or cedar, a timber bench will last for years in the backyard. 

This comfortable seat is made from LOSP H3 treated pine, making it more affordable. Before making the bench, select the boards carefully and avoid ones that are heavily knotted. 

When cutting the timber to length on a mitresaw, work your way around any knots if possible. Use a tablesaw or circular saw and fence to cut the 140 x 25mm boards along the grain into 90, 70 and 50mm widths. 

Round over all cut edges using 100 grit abrasive paper and reseal them with a treated timber product. 

This seat is built to last and is surprisingly strong, with the base frame and legs well braced and blocked. The legs and rails are attached using biscuits and exterior PVA adhesive. 

After the parts are cut and ripped to size, use a jigsaw to cut the curves on the seat rails and braces. 

Drill the plug holes in the legs and lower end rails then use a biscuit joiner to cut the slots in the legs and rails. 

Instead of using the adjustable fence to locate the slots, the workpiece and base of the biscuit joiner were positioned against the bench. 

This means the slots aren’t always centred, so orientation is tracked with masking tape and centre marks.

Assemble the bench then sand all the surfaces using 180 grit paper.

Finish with two coats of furniture oil or timber stain and then apply a coat of clear polyurethane. 

Hide the screw heads 

The screw heads are embedded in plugholes cut before assembly using a 9.5 or 12.5mm Forstner bit and then covered with timber plugs.

TIP Use a drill press and 9.5 or 12.5mm plug cutter to make your own plugs.

Step 1. Drill plus recesses

  Drill plug recesses using a Forstner bit, controlling the depth of the hole by drilling until the top of the cutter is flush with the surface.

step 1. drill plug recesses

Step 2. Cover screw heads 

Cover screw heads by gluing flat-topped pine plugs into the plug recesses using a dowel offcut or timber block to hammer them flush.

hide screwhead , handyman magazine



Follow these diagrams to build each element of this courtyard bench. 

courtyard bench diagrams

Build a courtyard bench 

Step 1. Cut slots for long rails

Mark the biscuit slot centres on two faces of the legs on masking tape 45mm from the top. With plug holes facing up, align the biscuit joiner centre mark with the mark on the tape. Cut slots in the narrow face of the legs, keeping leg and joiner tight to the bench as you go.

Step 2. Cut perpendicular slots

Rotate the legs so that the previously cut slot is facing up then cut slots on the sides opposite the plug holes. Position a spacer under the biscuit joiner so that the seat rails are centred on the leg when they’re secured into position.

Step 3. Cut slots in rail ends

Apply a piece of masking tape to both ends of the seat rails, front and back rails, marking the centres to guide the joiner. Position the seat rails against a block secured to the bench and biscuit cut slots in both ends of all four rails.

Step 4. Prepare long rails

Position the front and back rails with masking tape facing down and mark seat rail slot positions 445mm from each end. Use a speed square as a cutting guide, offsetting the square so the joiner is centred on the slot position then cut the slots.

Step 5. Join legs & seat rails

Push biscuits in the slots and dry fit the legs and seat rails to make sure the alignment is correct. Spread adhesive in the slots and on the biscuits then press the legs and seat rails together, checking the assembly for square then clamp until dry.

Step 6. Complete leg assembly

Position a spacer block under the lower end rail and align the rails with the plug holes. Drill 2mm pilot holes in the centre of the plug holes and into the lower rail ends then secure them with screws to both the front and back legs.

Step 7. Connect seat rails

Dry fit the rails to check alignment then apply adhesive to join the front and back long rails to the two centre seat rails. Use a try square to check the rails are set square then clamp across the seat rails, letting the adhesive set for 45 minutes.

Step 8. Join legs and seat

Turn the assemblies upside down and connect with adhesive and biscuits then clamp them together lengthways using a pipe clamp or sash clamp. Secure the brace between the end rails, then attach the four corner blocks and leg braces.

Step 9. Attach seat slats

Secure the two outside slats first then position the centre slat and attach with screws. Position the other slats, adjusting the gaps with spacers until they’re equal then secure with screws. TIP Align the slats by holding a board across each end

Click on the fastener list

Click on the fastener list for a breakdown of what fasteners you need to build this bench.

Click on the cutting list

Click on the cutting list for a breakdown of what materials you will need to build this courtyard bench.

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