How to Build a Bench Seat

Bench Seat - Hero

Lee Wallender

Is your foyer, front hall, or porch in need of a bench seat? Inexpensive and very easy to build, this bench seat has the rustic flavor of reclaimed wood. At three feet wide and 16 inches tall, it is the perfect height for putting on or removing shoes. To help keep your house tidy, at the bottom is a rack for a few pairs of shoes. A perfect weekend project, this bench seat is a complement to any home.

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Materials Cost: $50 to $100

Tools and Supplies You Will Need

  • Two-by-eight, 8 feet long
  • 3 square dowels, 1-inch by 36-inch
  • One-by-eight plank, 3/4-inch thick and 8 feet long: reclaimed wood, distressed wood, or your choice, to use as the seating board
  • 7/16-inch OSB board, 2-foot by 4-foot
  • Kreg Jig Mini and Kreg zinc pocket hole screws (optional)
  • 1-inch screws
  • 2 1/2-inch nails or screws
  • 1 1/2-inch finish nails
  • 4 anti-skid grip pads, 1 1/2-inch
  • Wood glue
  • Spray polyurethane clear coat, semi-gloss or gloss
  • Walnut stain
  • Black spray paint
  • Electric miter saw
  • Circular saw
  • Speed Square
  • Pencil
  • Hearing protection
  • Eye protection


Cut All Boards For the Project

Cut Boards for Bench Seat
Lee Wallender 
  • With the electric miter saw, cut the three 36-inch square dowels each at 33 inches.
  • With the electric miter saw, cut the 8-foot one-by-eight into eight pieces: four 14 1/2-inch pieces and four 8-inch pieces.
  • With the circular saw, cut the 2-foot by 4-foot OSB board into a single piece that is 11 inches by 33 inches.
  • With the circular saw, cut the one-by-eight seating board into two pieces, each 36 inches long.

Save all waste pieces for testing the paint and stains.

Paint the Pieces

Paint the Pieces
Lee Wallender

All pieces except the legs will be painted; those will later be stained after they are assembled.

  • For the three 33-inch square dowels, paint three long sides and the ends with black spray paint. It is not necessary to paint the fourth side since it will be on the bottom.
  • For the OSB board, paint all edges and about 1 1/2 inches into the field with black matte spray paint. While the OSB board will mostly be hidden, the purpose of painting is to help mask the edges in the rare event that they are seen.
  • For the two one-by-eight seating boards, spray them with the clear polyurethane to create a smooth surface for sitting.

Create the Legs: Front

Build the Legs - First
Lee Wallender

Each leg is a rectangle created from two 14-1/2 inch two-by-eights running vertically and two 8-inch two-by-eights running horizontally. Manually or with a pocket jig, angle-screw the front vertical piece to both the top and bottom horizontal pieces. Do this from the back so that the screws will not be visible.

Create the Legs: Back

Build Back of Legs
Lee Walllender

Due to space limitations and because the back of the bench will not be seen, you can directly face-nail or screw the rear 14 1/2-inch two-by-eights into place; there is no need to create pocket holes. Keep the bench legs in square by checking them with a carpenter's square or a Speed Square.

Stain the Legs

Stain the Legs
Lee Wallender

With the legs fully assembled, stain them on all visible sides. You do not need to stain the bottom or the top, but you should stain the back.

Install the Seating Base Board

Install Seating Base
Lee Wallender

Screw the OSB board directly onto the tops of the bench legs. The ends of the OSB board should be flush with the outer edges of the bench legs. Make sure that the screw heads are perfectly flat.

Install the Seating Boards

Install the Seating
Lee Wallender

Lay the two seating boards upside-down, so that their finished side is facing the floor. Make sure they are touching each other and are square. Turn the bench upside-down and on top of the seating boards. Maintain an even border around all edges. Screw the boards into place from the bottom with eight screws per board.

Add the Shoe Rack Rails

Add Shoe Rack Rails
Lee Wallender

Turn the bench upright. Add the three square dowel rails by adding a dot of glue to the bottom at each end and gently tapping them into place with the finish nails.

Add Anti-Skid Pads

Add Feet to Bench Seat
Lee Wallender

On the bottom, add the four anti-skid pads. Screw them into place with the included screws.

Tips For Building a DIY Bench Seat

  • To make the project even easier to build, you may opt to drive the screws or nails on the face of the front board of the legs. The screws will be visible.
  • You may need to gently sand off the corners of the seating board material if the corners are sharp.
  • One design option is to space the two seating boards about 1/8-inch. If you do so, spray a strip of black paint on the top of the board, since the light-colored board will be visible in the seam otherwise.