Covering with waterproof fabric means this bench can be used outside, and the lift-up seat allows for storage. The structure is simple and the size can be customized to suit your space.
Before You Begin
Step 1: Choose Upholstery Fabric
Step 2: Shape the Rails
Step 3: Assemble the Frames
Step 4: Box Assembly
Step 5: Get It Square
Step 6: Chamfer the Legs
Step 7: Attach the Legs
Step 8: Laminate the Seat
Step 9: Hinge the Seat
Step 10: Finish the Bench
Step 11: Upholster the Seat
Written by Gary Wentz
The bench is constructed of 1 x 4 pine. If willing to pay more, choose a more durable wood such as cedar, redwood or teak. The upholstered seat and panels are from a single sheet of 3/8-in. BC-grade plywood.
Outdoor fabrics are woven textiles made from synthetic fibers and cotton blends. The breathable fabric is made water repellent by chemical treatment during manufacturing and also resists stains and impedes mildew. Craft and fabric stores may carry outdoor fabric, but for the best selection and advice go to an upholstery store. The standard width is 55-in., and a good waterproofed fabric can cost up to $100 a meter. You'll need a piece at least 6 1/2-ft., with an equal amount of batting. We used 1 1/2-in.-thick, medium-density foam. Some suppliers will cut the foam to size.
Avoid using vinyl, a plastic made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), as it tends to be UV sensitive and degrades when exposed to sunlight. Some vinyl can crack in cold weather or degrade in direct sunlight. Solid colors or subtle patterns are easiest to work with. Stripes are the most difficult.
Mark a curve on the upper rails using the arc jig (see diagram below). Cut the curve with a jigsaw leaving about 1/32-in. of material to clean up with a sander. Don't cut the rails to final length until the curve is sanded.
Clamp each joint to a flat surface and add the stainless steel pocket screws. Be careful not to drive screws too deep. You can also use a biscuit joint. When assembling the side frames, position stiles 3/4-in. inside the outer ends of the rails.
Glue and screw bottom cleats to the front and back frames. Pre-drill and fasten the frames together with #8 x 2-in. screws. Ensure the end frames are flush with the face of the front and back frames.
Take diagonal measurements to make sure the box is square and make any adjustments before gluing and screwing the slats in place. The slats form the base and provide extra rigidity.
Glue and clamp two pieces together to form the legs then sand. Chamfer the three edges for decorative effect. Set the router to a depth of 1/4-in., stopping the cut 2 1/2-in. from each end.
Glue and screw the legs to the corners of the box from the inside. Pre-drill 5/64-in. clearance holes so the screws draw the legs tight against the frames. Use #8 x 1 1/4-in. screws, ensuring tops of the legs are flush with the top of the frame.
Glue two layers of 3/8-in. plywood together to make the seat. Drive #8 x 1 1/4-in screws every 6-in. to clamp both layers together, and remove screws after glue sets. If plywood is slightly bowed, position them opposite each other.
Fasten hinges to the box first. Then lay the seat on the floor and position each hinge as shown. Drill eight 1/2-in. holes through the seat so air escapes from under the upholstery. Round corners of the seat with a jigsaw, then upholster.
With the bench stained and panels covered, screw the panels inside the frames. To keep the legs off the wet ground, screw on 3/4-in. plastic feet. To minimize rain seeping in, run weather stripping around the upper edge.
A lid support can be added to hold the seat open. To keep mice out, staple 1/4-in. galvanized wire to the underside of the slats.
Maintaining the finish is easy since the panels and seat can be removed to add a fresh coat of stain or paint.
Cut the fabric, batting and foam to size. Take the seat outside and coat one side with spray adhesive. Position the seat carefully on the foam as it bonds immediately.
© 2012 Reiman Media Group, LLC.