10 Simple Bench Designs: Free Simple Bench Plans for Your Outdoors

You don’t have to be an expert, experienced woodworker to build a functional and attractive outdoor bench for your yard, patio, or porch. However, if you don’t have much experience, it would be wise to begin with a relatively simple bench design.

You can find our previous list of free simple outdoor bench plans here and now here is a new list of simple garden bench designs you can use to enhance your outdoor space.  All these plans are available for free from reputable sites.

From Lowe’s, a simple, rustic bench .

Plans for a simple outdoor bench from Rona.  Build a garden bench
 

Very simple garden bench made from 2×4′s and 1×3′s for less than $30 at Woodworking for Mere Mortals.

Outdoor storage bench

 

A patio “napping” bench from Woodgears – because who couldn’t use a nap?  If used outside it would need to be sealed or painted.

 

 An interesting medieval bench design from Greydragon.org that can be taken apart to be portable (in case of barbarian invasion?).  beta bench3.jpg (4473 bytes)
 

Very good, illustrated directions are provided in a PDF from Handyman Club of America for this attractive, sturdy bench that could be used indoors or out.
 Woodworking Plans & Projects - Outdoor Bench
 

Basic park bench plans from How to Specialist.

 Free garden bench plans
Here is a sturdy, lovely bench with detailed plans and instructions from Popular Mechanics.
Free plans to build a sturdy cedar bench or coffee table from Dempsey Woodworking. bench/table -- completed bench

Plans to build a backless outdoor bench from Lowe’s.

 

 Backless Outdoor Bench

More Free Outdoor Storage Bench Plans

      Following are more free plans for outdoor storage bench designs gleaned from safe sources on-line. 

     Some of these plans use pocket screw joinery requiring the use of a jig like the Kreg Jig.  This is a good method for beginning and experienced woodworkers alike for joining pieces of wood in a quick, strong joint.

     If you missed our first list of free plans for outdoor storage benches, you can see that here.

     Always follow good safety practices when using power tools.

These outdoor storage bench plans from Handyman Club of America offer storage under the comfortable seat.  These plans uses pocket hole joinery such as with the Kreg Jig.

Woodworking Plans & Projects, Storage Projects - Dock Bench Project Plan

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Interesting customization is possible with this bench design using waterproof fabric from Fresh Home Ideas .  These plans uses pocket hole joinery such as with the Kreg Jig.  Finished Bench
 Plans for a nice, basic cedar storage bench from Home Hardware.  Outdoor storage benchDouble Duty Deck Bench

 Attractive storage bench plans from Handyman Club of America. 

 

Woodworking Plans & Projects, Storage Projects - Storage Bench Project Plan

 Plans for a beefed up version of Ana White’s outdoor storage bench.  
 Attached outdoor storage bench from DIY Network.  
   

What is a Pocket Hole Jig and Why Should You Use One?

     Pocket hole joinery uses screws drilled at shallow angles (usually 15 degrees) to join pieces of wood.  It results in a strong joint that hides screws.  It does not requires as much careful measuring, clamping, glueing, or skill as most other methods of woodworking joinery, so is often a very good choice for the beginner. 

     The method is made simple with the use of a pocket hole jig.  The one we recommend is the Kreg Pocket Hole Jig.  They have a couple of different versions depending on how much use you’ll be using them.  The jig allows you to drill a hole at the correct angle to use the pocket screws.  Pocket holes eliminate the need for mortise and tenon, dovetails, or other more difficult joints.  

     Kreg has different versions of their jig kits though the most popular ones are the Kreg Jig K4 Pocket Hole System and the Kreg K4MS Jig Master System.  Both are quite good and much easier than other types of wood joinery.

     For a demonstration of how to use these jigs you can watch this link to a video tutorial on how to use a Kreg Jig Pocket Hole System.  And this is an illustrated tutorial of how to make a pocket hole.

     Here are some plans for projects to build using the Kreg Jig.  Although, with some experience, many plans can be easily adapted to using this system.

 

 Get the plans for this attractive storage bench from Handyman Club of America.   

Woodworking Plans & Projects, Storage Projects - Dock Bench Project Plan

Fresh Home Ideas offers free plans for this padded storage bench that uses waterproof fabric. Finished Bench 
 DIY Network offers free plans for this semi-circular garden bench. Outdoor storage bench
   

Free Plans: 7 Outdoor Storage Benches to Build for Your Patio

Storage benches are extremely useful additions to your deck, patio, or yard.  They can add functional outdoor seating while also providing a place to stash all that gear we need to find a place for outside.  Whether you’re stowing pillows, hoses, pool supplies or toys, or gardening tools,  you’ll be sure to find these benches great additions to your landscaping.  All of these plans are free and do not require you to sign up for anything or enter an email, etc.  Happy building!

 

This DIY Storage Bench from Better Homes and Gardens, uses decking as the cladding for a very useful place to sit or stash your stuff. l
Build this attractive storage bench from Sunset for your patio and you can even store unsightly hoses in it. Handsome storage bench
Attempt this cute paneled storage bench from Canadian Home Workshop if you have some woodworking experience. Outdoor Storage Bench, benches,outdoors,storage,easy,DIY instructions,do it yourself,free woodworking plans,woodworkers projectsOutdoor storage bench

Try this simple-to-build slatted storage bench from Ana White, inspired by West Elm’s Wood Slat Storage Bench.

 

Outdoor Storage Bench
Plans in PDF form from Workbench Magazine to build this nice double storage bench. Seating with Storage
Here is a relatively simple deck storage bench made from cedar.  From Home At Home. Double Duty Deck Bench
This cedar storage bench is particularly well-suited to storing pool noodles or paddles.

9 Planter Benches You Can Build to Enhance Your Patio or Deck–Free Plans

 Planter benches are a beautiful and very functional addition to your deck, patio, or yard.  Be sure to use durable wood suitable for outdoor furniture such as redwood, cedar, or pressure treated pine. 

This type of outdoor bench works great on a patio or deck to define the edge of your space creating outdoor “rooms” which make your landscaping much more effective.  

Following are free outdoor benches plans that incorporate plants and seating in one!  Many of these can easily be adjusted in length to fit your exact space.

 

Good directions are provided for this redwood planter bench by Ron Hazelton.  How to Build a Bench with Planters
Here’s an unusual triangular deck planter bench from Home At Home.  This could be especially useful for corners. Deck Planter
Attractive modern planter bench using store-bought ceramic pots as legs.  From Sunset. Planter bench
Scroll down near the bottom of the page for plans to build this planter bench from pressure treated southern pine.  Planter Bench
Plans for another planter bench made from Yellawood pressure treated lumber.
Redwood planter bench with attractive alternating line pattern from Sunset.  This one looks quite modern. Handsome planter-bench
A modular cedar planter bench design that would be perfect for a deck.  From RealCedar. Bench/Planter Modules
An interesting planter bench with rounded ends from HGTV.
Simple to build planter bench. From UFPI.

 

 

 

How to Choose Wood for Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor garden furniture can greatly enhance your yard, patio, or deck, but furniture kept outdoors is constantly being attacked by rain, sun, and freezing, as well as by insects looking for a free lunch.  Some woods are better than others at standing up to all these environmental stresses.  It is important to select appropriate wood types when building outdoor benches or furniture if you want your project to last.

The most important factors to consider when choosing wood for an outdoor project are:

  • Resistance to decay and insects.  

Decay is caused by fungus getting into the pores of the wood.  Some woods are much more challenging for the fungi to get into and cause rot.  Woods such as cedars, cypress, white oak (but not red oak), redwood, teak, ipe, and iroko are very resistant to decay.  Some woods are particularly unappetizing to insects (such as:  cedar, redwood, teak, and padouk).  It is also important to keep your outdoor benches and other furniture out of direct contact with the ground.  Natural resistance of a wood to rot and bugs is a characteristic of the heartwood, not the sapwood, of a particular species.  The sapwood is always less resistant and requires protective finishes to withstand water or insects.

  • Weather resistance. 

No wood can withstand moisture and sunlight without damage though the more durable woods will last longer than others.  The real solution here is to keep your outdoor furniture out of direct sunlight and to use a protective finish on any furniture that is left outdoors.  The finish will need to be renewed periodically when needed (approximately annually).

  • Price. 

Wood prices vary greatly and change often based on availability and geographical location.  Pressure treated lumber is usually the least expensive (though also the least attractive) wood to use for an outdoor project.  Redwood, cedar, and cypress are often available at reasonable prices.  Tropical hardwoods (such as:  teak, ipe, iroko, etc.) can be prohibitively expensive.  Many tropical hardwoods are becoming more and more rare and therefore more expensive.  Inquire at a local lumberyard to see if the wood you want is available and if you’ll need to take out a second mortgage (not recommended!) to buy enough for your outdoor project.

  • Sustainably harvested.

An important factor in the harvesting of wood in the world today is whether it is being done in a responsible and sustainable (and legal) manner, or using exploitive methods that are contributing to the depletion of the world’s forests (especially the rainforests).  We all need the forests for the health of the planet and, therefore, ourselves, so it makes sense to buy wood (especially exotic woods) from sustainably managed forests.  To find out if the wood you’re buying comes from such a source, search for retailers that sell FSC-certified wood or find more information by going to the Forest Certification Resource Center’s website.

Rather than choosing a naturally durable wood for your outdoor furniture project, you could choose pressure treated lumber, which has been impregnated with chemicals to make the wood decay and bug resistant. Pressure treated wood certainly has it’s uses, but may not be the best choice for furniture that is in direct contact with people since the wood is usually green, has a tendency to warp, and brings up concerns due to the use of toxic chemicals. Pressure treated wood is also not as attractive as many types of wood. However, pressure treated wood is almost always the least expensive type of lumber that is suitable for outdoor use.

Whichever type of wood you choose, your project will last longer if you use a protective finish on it, keep it out of direct sunlight, and out of contact with the ground.

7 Unique Garden Bench Plans to Add Personality to Your Environment

Rather than going down to your local big box store and buying a bench for your garden or patio that millions of others already have, try expressing your personal style by building one of these fabulous outdoor seats that are full of unique personality.  Your home will definitely be better for it and more reflective of the specific people who inhabit it. 

Some of these pieces require a fair amount of skill or experience, but others are approachable even for the inexperienced (you might want to try the twig seat or cobblestone and wood bench).  If your woodworking experience is basic then check out this list of simple outdoor benches you might want to try instead.  For the truly adventurous, considering designing your own unique work of art.  See these examples of amazing bench designs at Web Urbanist to get inspired.  Either way, the results do not need to be perfect to add a huge amount of charm and unique character to your environment. 

Just go for it and don’t settle for mundane when you could enhance your environmental with your own handmade piece of functional art.   

If you’re handy with a chainsaw, attempt this beautiful Chainsaw Log garden bench  from Popular Mechanics and express your inner MichaelAngelo. 
A beautiful zen-like “Contemplation Bench” from Woodcraft.
Cobblestone and wood bench from HGTV.
A unique twig bench made from branches and costing next to nothing makes a seat that the neighbors definitely won’t have!
This one is not specific bench plans but for inspiration.  This bench made from different chairs would be great fun to reinterpret!  If creating a similar design for outdoors, seal all parts thoroughly with a weather resistant finish or use weather resistant woods. low-tech-diy-art-bench
An easy-to-build bench from Lowe’s that demonstrates how creative you can be while using standard parts from your local home improvement store.  Use appropriate finishes or weather resistant wood when planning to use bench outside.
Here are several creative ideas for simple garden seatsfrom Las Pilitas Nursery.  Sometimes simpler is better and can add tons of character to your landscape. Put the bench in the garden and let the flowers grow over it.

10 Simple Outdoor Benches Plans You Can Build Yourself

All of the following garden bench plans are free!

Below are 10 simple–yet very attractive and functional–garden benches you can build with basic woodworking skills and tools. 

For the most part, these benches are also very inexpensive, depending mostly upon the type of wood you decide to build them with.  Please see our post on outdoor wood types for suitable material suggestions.

With all these simple and free outdoor benches plans, there is no reason not to get busy and enhance your landscape today!

Simple and fast bench plans that you can build in an hour or 2 from Woodworkers Guild of America.
A simple, modern style bench that you can build with basic tools and minimal woodworking experience from Ana White. Build a Simple Outdoor Bench
Saucy Bench from Home Envy–cute, Victorian-inspired, and easy to build.
This is an extremely simple and inexpensive bench made from just 2 ten foot 2×10′s–from Handyman Wire. simple bench
Here’s another simple bench design who’s length is easily adjustable.  This bench would look great on a lake, pond, or trail.  From Handyman Wire. trail bench
A nice sturdy bench that can be lengthened or shortened to suit your needs from Handyman Wire. our bench
An inexpensvie and easy to build garden bench that can also be built without the curved seat to make it even easier from Garden Gate Magazine.
Another simple to construct bench, this one made from cedar.  From Woodworking Super Center.
This modern redwood planter bench uses purchased ceramic pots as it’s legs, simplifying the building process tremendously.  From Sunset. Planter bench
Easy to build and versatile outdoor duckboard platforms can be used for a variety of projects including outdoor benches.  From Shopsmith.

Best Types of Wood for Building Outdoor Benches

If you want your outdoor bench to last (and of course you do!), it is important to select wood types that possess a natural resistance to insects and weather, or, that are made decay and bug resistant by being impregnated with chemicals.

You can choose a wood that grows domestically in North America or you can use a tropical hardwood which grow in equatorial regions. Domestic woods predictably tend to be quite a bit less expensive than exotic woods and have wider availability. 

Another choice for outdoor projects is pressure treated lumber, which has been impregnated with chemicals to make the wood moisture and insect resistant. There are good uses for pressure treated wood and it is likely the least expensive option but it may not be the best choice for outdoor furniture

Listed below are the best naturally resistant types of wood to use when building outdoor benches, garden furniture, or any other outdoor structures. 

  • Bald Cypress (also called Southern Cypress):  (native to southeastern US).

Commonly available in the southeastern U.S.  Cypress is affordable in the Southeast but can be more expensive depending on your area.  It is strong and has good insect and rot resistance.  It is a tan to reddish color (lighter than Redwood).  It has a tendency to warp if not dried properly but does not need to be pre-drilled.

  • Cedar:   (native to northwestern US and southwestern Canada).  

Avoid sapwood or streaky surfaces which indicate weakness.  Cedar is usually golden-brown which mellows to gray when left unfinished.  Cedar is a soft wood and considered structurally weak.  In general, Cedar costs about double the cost of pressure treated wood and approximately half of redwood and has very good resistance to moisture and fair resistance to bugs.

  • Redwood(native to west coast of US).  

Deep red color indicates the much more durable heartwood–avoid the light colored sapwood.  Redwood is relatively soft, use pre-drilled holes to prevent splitting.  Redwood patinas to a silvery-gray color.  To retain reddish color, use a penetrating clear wood finish or redwood stain.  Redwood costs more the farther away from the West Coast of the U.S. you are.  Generally costs about 4 times as much as pressure treated lumber.

  • White Oak:  (native to eastern North America). 

Note that this is not the red oak you will find down at your local home improvement warehouse.  You’ll need to go to a decent lumberyard to get this strong and hard wood that is very well-suited to furniture making, including outdoor furniture.  Quarter sawn White Oak can be especially attractive.  This wood is not as expensive as some other hardwoods and has good resistance to moisture and insects.

  • Tropical Hardwoods

Many tropical woods are extremely bug and rot resistant.  Teak (native to southern Asia), for example, is an extremely stable wood that is as strong as oak with an attractive grain and has excellent resistance to moisture and bugs, however, it has been extensively exploited for more than a century and is becoming less and less available. 

Some tropical hardwoods, such as Ipe (also known as Ironwood or Pau Lope) is 2x as strong as oak and even more durable than cedar or redwood.  (Ipe can cause respiratory or dermitatis reactions, wear a mask when working with it).  They can last as long as 40 years.  On the other hand, these woods are typically, very expensive and have limited availability.  They tend to be quite hard and require predrilling. 

It is also important to consider whether a particular wood species is being harvested in a responsible and sustainable manner.  This is especially true for tropical hardwoods, many of which are from endangered rainforests.  Look for FSC-certified wood or find out more by going to the Forest Certification Resource Center’s.

     

Other woods that have a natural resistance to rot and insects include:  Arizona Cypress, Catalpa, Black Cherry, Chestnut, Juniper, Black Locust, Mesquite,  Red Mulberry, Osage-orange, Sassafras, Black Walnut, Pacific Yew.

To prolong the life of your outdoor furniture, don’t ever leave it in direct contact with the ground and try to keep it out of direct sunlight.  Most decay resistant woods should be treated with a penetrating finish (enamel paint, stain, or sealer) to prolong their lives. 

 

 Sources:

California Redwood Association, http://www.calredwood.org/index.htm

Forest Stewardship Counsel, http://www.fscus.org/faqs/fsc_products.php?link=4

NAHB, Wood Exposed Outdoors, http://www.toolbase.org/Building-Systems/Landscaping/wood-exposed-outdoors

 University of Minnesota, Selecting Wood for Outdoor Structures, http://www.sustland.umn.edu/implement/selecting_wood.html

Western Red Cedar Lumber Association, http://www.wrcla.org/index.htm