Make an Antique Bench of Your Own

February 12th, 2013 posted by Matt & Shari

by Matt & Shari

I love to browse through antique shops. Because I enjoy building things myself, I especially enjoy looking at the handmade wooden furniture. I admire the workmanship and history in each piece, and often come away with the inspiration for a project of my own. I especially like antiques that are still functional. Although they may not be used exactly as they were intended, many are still practical in a modern home. Old trunks can be used for storage or as a television stand. Old toolboxes can become coffee tables. Antique pie safes offer tremendous storage options. The possibilities are endless. Shari and I have used many antique pieces in our decorating projects. They add warmth and character to a room and can be used successfully with almost any decorating style. Not long ago, Shari and I decorated a sunroom. We unexpectedly came across an antique bench which we thought we might be able to use. Although quite rustic, once Shari dressed the bench up with pillows, it fit the space perfectly. The bench had a very simple design. It had obviously been made for purely utilitarian purposes, since it had very little trim. And given its many deep scratches, it had clearly served its purpose well. Like many antiques, this bench was a one of a kind find. Because it had served so well and for so long, I decided to try to copy the design for a bench of my own. First I gathered my materials, which included:

  • 2×4 lumber
  • 2 pine boards cut to desired length
  • screws
  • drill
  • spade bit
  • decorative trim
  • circular saw
  • table saw
  • pencil
  • tape measure
  • chisel
  • sandpaper
  • small wooden dowel
  • wood glue
  • handsaw
  • block plane (optional)

The bench is made up of just a few parts – the top, side legs and the side support braces plus decorative trim on the sides. Begin this project by making the top supports. The top support consists of 2x4s cut to length and screwed together. Instead of attaching the top of the legs directly to the bottom of the top support, first notch out the shape of the board using a circular saw to make the legs sturdier. Next, cut out the grooves for the side support by laying a 2 x 4 across the legs and drawing pencil marks across for the placement and angle of the support. Set the table saw blade at the height of the 2 x 4 and the miter gauge at 60 degrees, and then run the legs through to remove small portions of the notch by making several passes within the penciled guidelines. Remove the extra lumber with a chisel until the groove is smooth. Attach the legs to the top support using long screws. Slide the side support into the notches cut out of the legs. Use a spade bit to drill pilot holes larger than the screw head, and then drive each screw in. Apply glue to a small piece of dowel and put one over each screw. Wipe off any excess glue. Using a hand saw, cut it flush and lightly sand it until it is smooth. To make the seat, cut two pine boards to length. Soften the edges of the boards by sanding with a block plane or 120-grit sandpaper. Drill pilot holes for the screws and attach the boards to the top supports from underneath. Choose a decorative trim to complete the project. Miter the corners to fit around the top edge of the bench. Sand the entire piece and stain or paint as desired. I decided to stain my bench and it came out great. It has proven to be a valuable addition to my mudroom, and I know will give many years of service. My finished bench may not be an antique yet, but just give it some time!

Matt & Shari (6 Posts)


Featured Contributor

Cindy Rowe
Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!


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