I love making things, especially if they are useful to my family as well. Building a bench can be done in a day, whether you use dimensional lumber or raw trees right out of the woods. There are benches that need to be cut and measured out and ones that are more rustic. Whichever you decide to build, there are 10 tips on building a bench that should make the entire process a bit easier for you.
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I find that asking my husband questions as they arise eliminates a lot of hassle, as well as the chance of making future mistakes. He was the one who taught me how to make benches in the first place, so I look to him for the answer to questions I might have. If you are using a book as a reference, then be sure to look at it for pointers you might need. The author should provide all the answers you need to complete your project.
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Even if you don’t know what to expect from your final outcome, having a basic image in mind will help you to make alterations along the way. Have you ever tried to put something together without a picture? If someone gave me a pile of wood and said, “Build a bench.” I would definitely come up with an idea of what I was going to try to build, instead of starting to hammer pieces together without thinking.
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There is an order to everything, no matter how trivial the process might be. When building a bench, you need to have a plan in order to be able to carry out the making of the bench. You’ll need to decide what type of bench you’re going to make, what kind of wood you need, the hardware necessary to complete it, and if it will need a protective finish or not. Once you have your plan written down, you’ll be sure to complete all the steps without a hitch.
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Even if someone says that it will only take a day to build a bench, take your time. It’s no big deal if you take two days or a week to finish it. I’ve gotten busy with other aspects of life and worked on a bench whenever I could. This particular bench took nearly two weeks to finish. Sometimes taking a little extra time to finish a project allows your mind to think of better ways to do things. I’ve gotten ideas for benches that probably wouldn’t have come about if I had completed it in a single day.
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This is especially true when making rustic benches, but also works for creations made with dimensional lumber. Every tree is different, whether it’s straight from the woods or has already been shaped into a 2 by 4. The tools used might handle differently on certain days, due to the operator, which means attaching parts of the bench to one another might happen in a different manner. Unless you are working in a factory with machines that can accurately cut and nail boards together in exactly the same way each time, you’ll have to allow for variations in every bench you make.
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There’s nothing more frustrating then getting to a point where you are almost finished and realizing you don’t have what you need. Well, I can think of one thing that is more frustrating and that is thinking you’re ready to start building a bench and not having what it takes to even begin. When building rustic benches, I’ve had logs picked out that turned out to be unusable when it came time to peel them for the initial bench building session. Talk about disappointing.
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I find it easiest to make sketches when building rustic benches. There’s no bench-building rule that says I have to follow this sketch to the T, but it does help me to figure out which shapes of trees to look for. If you are using plans that are already drawn out for your bench, then be sure to have a picture of what the bench is supposed to look like when it’s finished.
Photo Credit: Laura Hartrich
Building a bench from plans that have been designed by someone who knows what they are doing enables you to already have measurements in place. There are measurements that have to be made when making rustic benches as well, in order to get the legs placed in the right position. If these are off by a few inches, then the bench will end up wobbling quite a bit. Measuring where the backrest is going to be and how high up the side of the bench the armrests will be place is also important.
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You’re only human. Mistakes are made all the time and it’s best to expect them right in the beginning. Think of how excited you’ll be if you end up not making any mistakes during your bench-building project. I remember the first bench I made. Poor thing. There were plenty of mistakes, but it was my first bench and I expected mistakes to happen. It’s all part of the learning process.
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I think this has to be number one on my list, since frustration can be the end of a once fantastic idea. Frustration causes the fun to be drained right out of any project. If you find that you are becoming too distraught about what you are doing, then take a break from it. Sometimes after taking a few minutes to get away from your project, your mind realizes what was going wrong and helps you fix it.
These 10 tips on building a bench can help you to the next time you decide to tackle a project such as this. They might even work for other projects you want to complete. Have you ever tried to build a bench or another piece of furniture by yourself? What was your experience like?
Top Photo Credit: Martin Hill Woodworking
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