DIY Benchright Farmhouse Bench

After perusing through our favorite blog Ana White we came across awesome plans for a Pottery Barn inspired Benchright farmhouse table and bench.  Since we’re still learning we decided to start with the bench since it seemed less daunting than starting with the matching table.

The Pottery Barn Version sells for a stiff $499.99 + Shipping….sheesh.  Below is our version, we spent about $114.00.  Way cheaper than the Pottery Barn version (plus I like our stain better).  The plans we used to make this are from Ana White – We go step by step on this post, but make sure to go check out her plans first, and read all the comments.

Below is the wood after making all cuts.  We used an orbital sander on all pieces; once with 120 grit and again with 220 grit.  We went with white pine board for the entire bench.  We thought about buying nicer expensive wood, but decided since this was our first project we’d just stick to cheaper stuff. ~You can find the complete supply and tool list at the bottom of this post~

Step 1:  Putting together the legs

After getting all the pieces in place we glued everything down with wood glue (we used Elmer’s Wood Glue).  It’s important to make sure everything is flush.  It was extremely frustrating, as soon as we’d get one corner perfectly squared a different piece of the leg would be off.  To aide in the process we used a carpenter’s square to check and double check the square of the leg.

Eventually when everything was squared we used 26 – 1 1/4″ finishing nails.  The tutorial suggests working from the bottom up.  In the picture below you can see our nail placement.  We don’t have a nail gun, instead we used a regular old hammer and nail punch.

Step 2:  Putting together the legs (continued)

Next we glued down the remaining 1×3’s @ 17 1/2″ and used 16  2″ finish nails.  Again, we nailed from the bottom up and made sure the bottom was as flush as possible.  The top doesn’t line up, and it isn’t supposed to.  You can see it a little clearer on the  diagram below.  After completing this step we’d officially completed one leg of the bench, so we repeated everything with a second leg.

Quick Fix for uneven edges: Despite our best efforts, after completing our bench legs, the bottoms were noticeably uneven/not flush.  To fix this we used a belt sander with 80 grit  to even up the ends.  BE VERY CAREFUL!!  It’s  VERY easy to sand off too much.  Also, we went over the outside of the legs with the orbital sander using 220 grit.  The edges weren’t off or anything, we just figured it’d help with that one piece of wood look we’re going for.

Rogue Step 3.1:
We went a little rogue and decided we wanted to start staining at this point.  We thought staining the individual pieces would come out better.  Hindsight is 20/20 and we wish we would have just waited until we finished putting the entire bench together before staining.  The look of the bench was not hurt at all by staining early.  What we didn’t like about staining the individual pieces was that things didn’t dry as fast as we wanted them to, it probably added a few unnecessary work days onto this project.

For our staining we used Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner and Minwax Oil-Based Dark Walnut Wood Stain.

Here is the staining process we used:

  • Rub everything down with tack cloth
  • Rub or brush pre-stain in and let it sit for 15-20 minutes
  • Lightly wipe pre-stain off wood with rag
  • Give wood a very light sanding with 220 grit
  • Wipe wood down with tack cloth
  • FINALLY, apply stain, let stain sit for 20-30 minutes
  • Wipe stain with rag
  • Let it sit for at least 4 hours  (if you live in a hot sticky place like us, you will need much much longer for it to truly dry)
Wet
Dry

Again,  if we could have a re-do we’d just hold off until the end to stain.  But, right when we started we were super excited with the stain; we really liked the color (wet and dry).

Step 3.2 (Finally)
After finally finishing our rogue 3.1 staining step it was time to attach the main supports for the table.  Measure 3/4″ inside the aprons and attach the 52-1/4″ 2×4 aprons.  The tutorial calls for using wood glue and 2-1/2″ screws.

Instead of following the tutorial and using 2-1/2″ screws coming from the outside, we used our Kreg Jig to make pocket holes and used 1-1/4″ #8 self tapping pocket screws (we got ours here).  We made a total of 8 pocket holes on the inside of the 2x4s.  Remember to add wood glue before screwing everything in.

Pocket Holes
Pocket Holes

In order to accurately place the supports 3/4″ inside the aprons we used an extra piece of a 1×3 and wedged it in before we screwed the 52-1/4″ 2×4 aprons in.

The wedge

We found that holding everything in place while trying to screw the aprons in is tricky, so we used our band clamp which helped a lot.

After completing step 3 we ended up with this:

Step 4:
Next we attach the 2×2 sides as shown below.  After adding glue, we used four 2-1/2″ nails, one in each corner.  There should be about 5″ of overhang on each end.

Step 5:  Here we added the 1x4s @ 13 1/2″ end pieces via wood glue and 2-1/2″ wood screws.  We counter sinked the holes and filled them with wood filler.

Band Clamp in use

We used our band clamp again to help with getting everything as snug as possible.

Step 6: Next we added the breadboard ends.  We glued them down and used 12 – 2″ (6 on each end) finishing nails to secure the boards.

Step 7:  Finally!! We got to put the seating boards on!

Yayy!!  We were so excited when we finally got to this point!  So close to finishing!  It was turning out so much better than we thought it would.

We used wood glue and 34 -2″ finishing nails to secure the sitting boards.  We also used the clamps to ensure the boards wouldn’t move around too much while we were nailing.

After hammering in the finishing nails  with a nail punch we applied wood filler with a wood puddy knife  to all the small dents left by the nail punch/finish nails.

After this we lightly sanded down the finishing nails, wiped the bench down with tack cloth and went ahead with the second coat of stain.

Wood Filler in nail holes

We let the stain sit for a few days, and it was STILL sticky.  The directions say you only need to let the stain dry for 4 hours; in a normal climate I think that would work.  However, since we’re in the sticky South we had to let it dry for a few days.    It was sticky for-e-v-e-rrrr, we even sat it out in the sun for a few hours which seemed to help a little.

The sticky mess

After waiting days for the stain to fully dry we used Minwax Polyurethane for the finish.  It took about 24 hours to dry.

1st Polyurethane coat

You don’t have to do two coats of Polyurethane, but you can (and we did).  The directions recommended sanding between coats with 220 grit.  We were panicking at first when we saw what the sand paper did to the first poly coat, but we quickly found out that the 2nd coat of poly would remedy the below look.

PANIC

After wiping down with tack cloth we put our final coat of Poly on the bench and patiently waited..  While waiting for the poly to dry we moved onto step 8 preparations.

Step 8:
The last step on the tutorial says to use a 1″ diameter 60″ long iron pipe to attach the legs together.  Instead, we decided to go with a turnbuckle style taken from another Ana White user, you can find his version HERE.  The turnbuckle models the Pottery Barn model more.

For this step we used the following materials:

  • (1) Steel Flat Bar  1/8″ thick 1-1/2″ wide,  3ft long
  • (8) Round Head Screws 1/4″ Diameter, 20 thread count, 1-1/4″ long  (If we could do-over we would have gone with a hex bolt for aesthetic purposes.)
  • (4) 3/8″ Washers
  •  (8)1/4 Washers
  • (1) Right handed thread rod – 3/8″ diameter, 16 thread count, 3ft long- Had to cut this down to correctly fit bench
  • (2) Right handed thread 3/8″ Nuts
  • (1) Left handed thread rod – 3/8″ diameter,  16 thread count, 3ft long (bought from Mcmaster.com) -Had to cut this down to correctly fit bench
  • (2) Left handed thread 3/8″  Nuts (bought from Mcmaster.com)
  • Turnbuckle – 3/8″ diameter (Bought from Home Depot)

We first cut the steel flat bar into four  3-3/4″pieces with a jig saw (w/ metal cutting blade).  We then clamped each 3-3/4″ piece down and drilled four holes in each corner to fit the 1/4″ screws, and one bigger hole in the center to fit the 3/8″ rod.

In order to get each piece identical, we used the first piece as a guide/template to drill the holes in the other three  flat bar pieces.  After drilling all holes we sanded any rough edges with a metal file.

Using first drilled piece as template

We then measured out the center of the bench leg, clamped the flat bars as guides, and drilled into the bench.  We didn’t do this until after the last coat of poly was dry.

Next, we spray painted all our nuts, screws, plates, washers, turnbuckle, and rods(make sure you’ve cut your rods before spray painting, also tape both rod ends, this makes it easier to screw the pieces together).  We used a Rust-oleum Painters Touch Ultra Cover, Satin Espresso Spray paint.

Next, we hooked everything up on the bench.  After screwing everything together some of the paint rubbed off so we used painters tape and lightly re-sprayed certain parts.  After the quick  espresso touch up we also sprayed a clear gloss enamel on all the metal parts.

And there you have it! We took the final pictures outside because there was better light than inside the house.

Total cost was $114.00.  I broke down cost into per screw/per nail costs, so although we bought a 5lb box of screws, I only counted the screws we used towards the cost.  One thing not taken into account is we also get a 10% Military discount at Lowe’s and Home Depot.

We’re planning on making the Benchwright Table that matches this bench, the left over supplies will be nice for that project.

All supplies and tools needed for this project can be found at the bottom of this page.

Supply list:

Tools Required:

  • Hammer
  • Nail Punch
  • Puddy Knife (you could get away with using something else.. a butter knife?)
  • Miter Saw
  • Jig Saw w/ blade for cutting metal (or Hack Saw)
  • Clamps
  • Random Orbital Sander
  • Drill Bits (or counter sink)
  • Electric Drill
  • Metal File

Optional:

  •  Belt Sander (only to correct uneven bench bottoms)
  • Kreg Jig  (only needed if you want pocket holes)
  • Band Clamp (not required, but it really did help us)

Linked to:
Show Me What Ya Got @ Not Just A Housewife 
Pinworthy Projects Party @Just Us Four Blog, My Fav Finds and Atkinson Drive