Make a versatile wooden bench

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A wooden bench can be used for seating, as a side table or a display area. And this one is so simple to make, why not build a trio of them!

Photographs Francois Oberholster l Styling Shelly Bergh


Hard labour 4/10

Skill level 4/10

Time needed 1 to 2 hours

Make three benches for less than R1 400:

wood R1 170,

screws R100,

sandpaper R26,

wood filler R30 (paint/varnish excluded)

Project notes

• Remember to drill pilot holes.

• Sand your wood beforehand.

You will need

• 22 x 220mm planed pine, cut to: three 1 000mm lengths (seats) six 400mm lengths (legs)

• 22 x 95mm planed pine, cut to: six 1 000mm lengths (sides)

• 22 x 44mm planed pine, cut to: twelve 360mm lengths (struts)

• one packet 6mm x 50mm screws

• wood filler

• sandpaper


• cordless drill, 3mm drill bit and 35mm spade bit

• pencil

• tape measure

• try square

• tenon saw

• jigsaw

• chisel

• hammer

• clamps

How to build the benches

1. Cut the ends of the 44 x 360mm struts at a 45º angle (see photo). Measure and mark the position of the legs 100mm from each end of the 220 x 1 000mm seat; mark a strip as wide as the thickness of the legs to indicate where the screws will come, then drill pilot holes. Glue and screw the legs to the seat.

2. Measure and mark the position of the struts: 255mm from the top of the seat to the edge of the leg, and 255mm from the edge of the seat against the front edge. Position the strut and mark where you need to cut out a joint in the leg and the seat. Draw the cut-out lines using the try square and also mark the thickness of the strut on the side of the leg and on the seat.

3. Saw along the lines to the marked depth, then use the chisel and hammer to chip out the wood so that the strut is flush with the edge of the seat and leg. Drill pilot holes and glue and screw the strut. Repeat to create four struts for each bench.

Tip Use a wood clamp if you’re working alone to make things easier and to ensure that the legs are at right angles to the seat

4. Place one of the 95 x 1 000mm side planks on the side of the bench and mark where you need to apply the glue to the struts. Glue and screw the plank flush with the top and ends of the seat. Mark the thickness of the seat on the end of the side piece and draw a 45º line. Cut along the line to finish off the side. Repeat on the other end and with the other side piece.

5. Turn the bench over and mark the V-shaped cut-outs for the legs (see photo). Using the spade bit, drill a hole at the apex of the V, then cut out the rest of the V with the jigsaw. Fill all screw holes with wood filler and allow to dry before sanding the bench thoroughly. Repeat the process for the other two benches.

Three benches can be used together in different combinations to suit your needs. – Deon

Change your stripes

Paint your benches for a fresh and fun effect.


Hard labour 1/10

Skill level 3/10

Time needed 1 day

Do it yourself for ±R385:

7 sample pots of paint at R55 each

Project notes

If you use PVA or enamel, you’ll need to prime the wood first. And if you use chalk paint, remember to seal it with wax afterwards.

You will need


• leftover paint in the colours of your choice

• chalk paint, wax or sealant

• broad masking tape (ours was 7.3cm wide)


• paintbrushes

• G-clamps

1. Coat the seats of two of the benches with two layers of white or off-white paint. Let the paint dry between coats

2. While the two white benches are drying, measure and mark the centre on the remaining bench. Use the masking-tape roll to mark intervals of the same width across the top of the bench. Mask every second stripe.

3. Paint all the exposed stripes with two coats in different colours. Let the paint dry between coats.

4. When the second coat has dried, carefully remove the tape.

5. Tape over the lines you painted in step 3.

6. Paint all the exposed stripes with two coats in different colours. Let the paint dry between coats. Once the paint has dried, remove the tape.

7.  Stack the three benches on top of each other with the striped one at the top. Use offcut timber as spacers between the legs and clamps to secure them together.

8. Mask the bottom edge of the bench with the solid stripes, then extend these with paint in the same colour and a very wet brush. Stop applying the paint halfway down the middle and let it drip down the bottom bench. Paint every second line, and let it dry. Then continue to do the lines in-between. Let the benches stand like this until the paint has dried completely.


Deon de Goede 084 589 5026

H&M Home 0860 690 707

Timbercity 021 927 5000

Woolworths 0860 022 002

Timber supplied by Timbercity.

Hat, scarf, shoes, glasses, plate and bowls from Woolworths; watermelon plate from H&M Home

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April 2023

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