It’s really important that our kitchen and dining area feels relaxed and cosy, with chilled vibe. Both for us and guests. Instead of a set of table and chairs, we opted for a dining bench. We decided on the bench ages ago and had a rough design in mind.
Initially we had notions! We thought we could afford to pay a professional to make it for us (cue hearty, belly laugh). So with no other option we figured we’d tackle it ourselves. I’m confident that we didn’t use the most suitable timber, techniques or anything else involved but we worked with what we already had and I’m delighted with the result!
I’m not sure how much all the materials cost, as some of the timber and nails were bought months ago but I’d say this bench was made for less than €50. Bargain!
BEFORE YOU BEGIN:
Measure your space. Take time to sketch a few ideas until you’re happy with one. If you’re like me, it’ll be the first one!
Here’s some standard measurements to keep in mind:
Seat height (including cushions): 18″
Seat depth: 18″ – 20″
Seat width (per person): 24″ -30″
Now that you’ve confirmed the size of your bench, cut two pieces of 4 x 2 to your longest length and two pieces to the shortest length. Lay them on the floor to make a rectangle. Secure them with the nails. Try your best to make sure the ends of each piece meet perfectly. It’ll save you any hassle later on.
Measure between the two long pieces of timber and cut another piece of 4 x 2 with this measurement. Nail it in the centre, for some support.
Cut 4 pieces of 4 x 2 measuring 18″. These will be the corner supports. Get your nails out and hammer them into each corner.
At this stage I think you deserve a cuppa and a pat on the back. You’re already half way there! 😉
Repeat steps 1 & 2 to create the top of the frame. Nail them to the frame to make a box. (We did this a little bit backwards!) If you’re making a corner bench, as we did, repeat the first 3 steps and secure both frames together with more nails.
Place your frame against the wall. Measure the front of the bench. I know we should know this measurement but it’s best to measure twice and cut once 😉 When you’ve measured the height and width, cut it from the plywood.
Secure the plywood to the frame with panel pins. Repeat this step for any exposed sides.
This step is optional. When we had all the panels on, we thought it looked a little plain. We thought we’d shake it up a bit, with a shaker style. To make the border we cut 2″ strips and secured them with panel pins.
You have two choices on how to finish the top of your bench. If you don’t intend on using it for storage, just measure the top and cut the plywood. Secure the plywood to the top of the frame with more panel pins.
We need all the storage space we can get, so we made a lid for the top. We cut a piece of plywood 3″ x length of bench. Using the panel pins we secured it to the back bar of the frame.
Measure the length and width of the remaining space and cut it from the plywood. Secure it to the back using the hinges. We did this really simply and crudely. We’ll always have seat cushions on it, so I wasn’t worried about the finish of the hinges. If your bench won’t have seat cushions, there’s loads of tutorials on Google, on how to do this properly.
Now the bench is constructed it’s all down to the finishing. Rub all of the raw edges with a fine sandpaper. For a seamless finish, I filled all the joins with wood filler and used a fine sandpaper when it was set. I also did it for the panel pins. Although it’s not really necessary as they bury into the timber quite well.
At this point it’s down to your style how you finish it, whether it’s varnish, paint or a combination.
It’s such a simple process to build your own dining bench. Using some fairly basic DIY skills, we’ve saved ourselves a small fortune! (I can imagine every cabinet maker holding their heads in their hands).