Dad's note: Can you believe how cheap and easy it is to make this Country bench for your family? And when the kids bring everybody and their dog over for lunch everyone of them can squeeze into this bench. Now you can sit across the table out of the reach of all those peanut butter hands. Also note how easy it is to clean (no cracks this basic design).
Material List - Estimated Cost = $50
One – 2” x 4” x 8’
Two - 2” x 8” x 8’
One - 4” x 4” x 8’
One - 4” x 6” x 8’
Two - 10” - ¼” Bolts or threaded rod
Four - ¼” Washers
Two - ¼” Nuts (4 nuts for threaded rod)
One small box of 3” deck screws
1. First cut the two 2” x 8” to the desired length for your bench. You can determine the length of your bench by measuring your table and subtracting approximately 6”for easy access to the table. For example a 7’ table needs a 6’-6” bench.
2. Next you need to cut four 4” x 6” legs to length. To determine the desired length measure a chair that is comfortable to use at your table. Subtract 1 ½” from that measurement for your 4” x 6” legs. Typically a bench would be 17” high so your legs would be cut at 15 ½.
3. It is time to cut the 4” x 4” under support beam to length. Subtract 8” from the bench length you determined in step 1.
4. Mortising your bench is cutting a “U” shape out of the legs where the 4x4 beam will fit in. The final width of the legs with the beam in place will be 12 “ so each side mortis cut will be 1 1/4” in and 3 ½ “ high. This mortis cut will start 5” from the bottom of each leg. If you are familiar with cutting a mortise take one of the 4” x 6” legs and mark a line 5” from one of the ends. Next take one of the 4 x” 4” and mark the width of the board on the same leg. Mark the depth of the mortise at 1 1/4 inches. Repeat this step on the other 3 legs.
If you are not familiar with cutting a mortise set your circular saw to cut to a depth of 1 ¼ inches. Mark a line 5 inches from the bottom of one of the 4 x 6 legs. Mark a line 3 ½ inches above that line. These two lines represent the width of the 4 x 4 that will fit into this mortise when you are finished cutting. Now take a speed square and use it as a guide to cut perfect 90 degree cuts through the mortise area. The more cuts you make the easier it is to clean out with a chisel. You can eliminate the use of a chisel if you carefully cut all of the material out with the circular saw.
If you have a sliding miter saw this whole process can be done easily by setting the depth of the miter saw to 1 ¼ inches and make multiple cuts across the 4 x 6 staying between the lines you marked for the 4 x 4 beam.
Now test your 4 x 4 for a tight fit in your mortise joint. If it is too tight simply make another cut until it fits into the mortise.
5. Taking each individual leg you will need to drill a 1” hole countersinking the large bolt that will hold the legs together. This hole can be made using a forstner drill bit, spade drill bit or an auger drill bit. The holes must be accurately centered 6 ¾ “ from the bottom of each leg and be about 2 inches deep. This will act as the recess for the bolt, washer, and nut that will hold the leg together.
6. Sand all boards to give them their final smooth surfaces.
7. Dry fit the legs together with the long 4” x 4” in place in the mortised hole. Clamp them in position on a level surface and drill a 5/16” hole through the assembled legs including the 4” x 4” support beam.
8. With the bench on a level surface insert a 9” or 10” bolt into each hole you just drilled with a washer on each end of the bolt. Secure the bolt in place by tightening the nut in place. (Note: a carriage bolt will not work because it cannot be tightened down).
9. To strengthen the bench we will cut a support block out of a 2 x 4 about 12” long. This should match the distance from the outside of one leg to the outside of the other leg. If you desire a little more design flare cut the corners of this support off at a 45 degree angle (see picture). Sand these two boards.
10. Using the 3” deck screws, screw the support onto the 4 x 6 legs. One on each end of the bench. This is what the bench seat boards will be fastened to.
11. Now carefully place the bench seat boards on top of the assembled legs and bracing. Make certain the boards are centered and look good. Secure each bench seat board with 3” deck screws. Perform any touch up sanding as needed.
12. Stain or paint your bench to match or accent your table. I prefer using 4 coats of a poly urethane clear coat (satin or gloss to your liking). The poly acrylics I have tried don’t give the same long lasting finish as does the poly urethane unless you put a many extra coats on.