DIY Bench Made From Scrap Wood

10 Materials
$50
10 Hours
Advanced

Do you sit on the edge of your bed when you get dressed in the mornings? I used to. I used to struggle to wrench my socks on, getting little to no assistance from my soft, cushy, mattress. Oh, it was horrible I tell you! Practically torture. It was the type of pain that only someone born and bred deep in the comforts of the first world can truly appreciate.


That deep, deep, well of pain and suffering taught me that I needed to change something in my life. Yes, that’s right, I needed a good firm dressing bench in my bedroom. Something I could really leverage myself against while I struggle into my garments. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case, I’d have to agree. So I decided to build one!


Too over the top? Ok, ok, got it. How about this: I wanted to build a bench for my bedroom and I also wanted to use up some wood I had kicking around so I decided to make this bench. Better? It just doesn’t sound as grand when I put it that way ;)


If you want to see how I made this bench scroll on down I’ve got full instructions and tons more pictures. First though, I’d like to give a quick plug for my Instagram account.


I’d love it if you checked out my Instagram page. You can find me @zacbuilds on Instagram (direct link: https://www.instagram.com/zacbuilds/) I post all of my projects on Instagram along with any tips and trick I’ve learned along the way.

I’ve done quite a few projects in this same mosaic/butcher’s block/thin strips of wood style. Part of the reason I started doing it was that it allowed me to use a lot of scraps and pieces that I would normally throw away. Which is great because it reduces the amount of garbage I produce (yay for the polar bears!) and reduces the cost of my projects (yay for my wallet!).


For this project, I got most of the materials by breaking down and recycling some of my older projects as well as cutting up scraps in the shop. Which was great because it reduced the cost of this project to almost nothing! I spent less than $50 on the metal for the legs and a can of spray paint to paint them with. Everything else I already had. If you wanted to recreate this project and didn’t have everything on hand as I did you could expect to pay ~$150.


Using my table saw I ripped all of my wood pieces into thin, 1″ wide, strips.

Then it was time to arrange all of my blocks into the pattern that you saw in the first few photos. Patterns like that don’t just ‘happen’ they’re the result of minutes, and minutes, of hard work haha.


For this project, the “concept” (that’s really too grandiose of a term, but its all I’ve got) was a gradient fade from the dark walnut to the light maple with the oak acting a sort of middle, and intermediate, step.


I set my phone to do not disturb mode, cranked some tunes and started applying glue. That’s right, all those pieces of wood are just glued together. Nothing fancy here, I just used regular, off the shelf, carpenters glue.

Hello everyone, my name is Zac and I’m an overtightener. In the past, I’d crank my clamps down until I was blue in the face. I’d pawn my TV, and yours, for just one more turn of the crank. I’ve been clean for a little over a year. Now, I only tighten the clamps until I close all the gaps between the individual blocks and see a little bit of glue squeezing out. Those little glue bubbles are a sign to stop tightening.


So, that’s what I did here. I used my collection of mix-matched bar clamps to force all of my wood blocks together and left the whole sticky mess to dry for a few hours.

3 hours later and once the glue was set it was time to square up the ends of this benchtop using my track saw.


Then I moved over to the planer.


No matter how diligent I am when it comes placing my blocks prior to gluing and clamping them, some will always be a little higher and a little lower than others, creating an uneven, bumpy, surface. My thickness planer will correct that though.


The blades inside the planer remove small fractions of an inch from the highest points on whatever is fed through it. By repeatedly feeding the benchtop through the planer and lowering the blades on each pass I eventually got it nice and flat.


Thankfully I only made my benchtop 12″ wide, my planer is 13″ wide so it JUST fit. Had I made it any bigger I would’ve been doing this by hand with a big block plane, or maybe a belt sander.

Even though the bench top was now flat, it was a far cry from being smooth. It still had the texture of unfinished wood. Not exactly the texture you’re looking for in something that you plan to use when getting dressed every morning.


To fix that I used my random orbital sander. I gave the whole thing a good sanding, starting with 80 grits sandpaper and progressing all the way up to 220 grit sandpaper.


I was ready to roll on some clear coat. Not only does the clear coat leave the wood with that deep, glossy, wet look, but it also helps to seal and protect the wood. It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned. I did 3 thin coats and sanded with high grit sandpaper between each coat.


The clear coat I used for this project is a satin floor varnish. It’s tough. It’s cheap. It’s easy to apply. It’s win-win-win.


And at the risk of spontaneously breaking out into a DJ Khalid song, I better move on to the next step!

With the benchtop set aside and drying I was ready to start work on the legs.


In total, I cut 8 pieces for my legs, 4 that were 17″ long and 4 that were 10″ long. All 8 pieces had 45-degree angles at each end and the measurements I listed were taken from the long side of each piece.


The first thing I did was cut all the pieces of tubular steel I was going to need using my abrasive chop saw. If you’re thinking about getting into metal fabrication I recommend NOT getting this style of saw haha. It’s loud, it’s dusty and it cuts really slowly. I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought it. I’ve heard people say really good things about metal saws with toothed blades. It seems crazy to me to cut metal with a toothed blade, but apparently, they work really well. I’ll probably be upgrading to one soon.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Welding?! That’s not very DIY!”


To which I’d respond: it’s not as hard as you might think. This was only my third time welding. I’m far from an expert but with a little bit of practice, you can get functional welds that will work no problem for furniture and DIY projects.


I wouldn’t trust myself to weld something like a race car or a bridge, but a bench that only supports my butt 18 inches off the ground? Sure, I’ll roll the dice on something like that.


I clamped the pieces of my legs to the table and tacked them together with a couple of tiny welds at each intersection. I worked slowly and made sure all of my interior corners were exactly 90 degrees with a small square. Once I had all 4 pieces tacked together and was satisfied with the fit I proceeded to fully weld all the seems together.

I’m still a newbie, so my welds were far from perfect. That’s ok though, you can always clean up your welds after the fact.

For the finish on this project, I chose the finest can of satin black spray paint that was available for less than $10. Only the best for my projects.


When I’m working with spray paint I like to do many thin coats. If you try and get full coverage on the first attempt you’re probably going to end up with a lot of drips. Just spray on a nice thin coat, let it dry, then do it few more times until you’ve got complete coverage.


Ideally, I would’ve had the legs powder coated, but that would’ve required driving somewhere, dropping them off, waiting a few days and then driving back to pick them back up. Alas, I’m a millennial and years of looking at my phone has ruined my ability to delay gratification. I want my black paint, and I want it now! So, the rattle can will have to do.

I drilled some holes in the legs and then it was a straight shot to the finish line. I grabbed my screws and used an impact gun to drive them through the legs and into the bench top. Because I was screwing into relatively hard wood I made sure to pilot out all of my holes with a little 1/16 drill bit. It’s not uncommon to snap screws in half if you screw them into a hardwood without piloting the hole first.


Hey look at that, all done! I loaded the bench up into my truck and took it home so I could snap some photos!

Here we are, back at my place with the bench all set up and ready to be used! Who’s gonna give it a go first?!


I’m not sure if it’s obvious or not from this photo but I’ve kind of got a thing for wood tones. Especially in my bedroom. I basically dream of wood tones all night long.

I’m really happy with how this project turned out. It didn’t cost me much and it also didn’t take that much time. Which is incredibly rare for one of my projects.


Usually they take me ages and cost a fortune.


Like I said in an earlier caption, I built this alongside another project, so it’s hard for me to say exactly how long it took me to build. But I’d ballpark it in the 10-12 hours range. Running two projects in parallel really added some economies of scales and helped speed things along. I’m going to do that more often in the future.

Alright, that’s it for this project! Thanks for checking out my build. Bless your heart if you made it this far in the post. If you want a more detail version there's a link below to my site where you can get the full blog post.


Let me know if you have any comments or questions.


If you haven’t already please check me out on Instagram!

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Zac Builds

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Joanie
    on Jun 18, 2019

    I love your tables and bench........You are good.......are you single? How about a nice old quilt from Goodwill and that room will really take over the rustic look......Thank you!! Great work!!

    • Robyn Garner
      on Jun 19, 2019

      LOL! I figured you weren't single with the wonderful choice of the pewter blue comforter. It really brings life to the wood and the room!

  • Indm0120
    on Jul 7, 2019

    So the thickness of the bench is 1 inch? I'm kind of new on building DIY items and I've wanted to make a bench but wasn't sure if it had to be thicker than 1 inch. Great job!

Join the conversation

3 of 79 comments
  • Carol Cole
    on Jun 21, 2019

    I love it , it is beautiful. The legs are nice and strong which makes it durable.

    • Zac Builds
      on Jun 23, 2019

      Thanks Carol! Ya the legs are quite heavy duty! I could jump up and down on the bench if I wanted to :)

  • Cheryl Beard Post
    on Jul 14, 2019

    you did a fantastic job on this bench! My husband, 76, struggles with balance when dressing. This gives me an idea for the bedroom. Not sure what your day job is BUT you are a great writer. This was the MOST fun and interesting DIY read on the site. Keep it up and thank you.

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