How to make a bench on a budget

August 4, 2014

Not enough places to sit? Not enough storage? Both, perhaps? A bench is just what you need — an easy-to-make bench, that is. It can be used for many things, it can be made to measure and it looks good. Plus, it won’t break your budget. Here's a quick look at how to make a bench.

Assess your needs

Before purchasing your materials, you’ll have to decide what type of bench best suits your needs. Do you only want a seat or do you want it to serve for storage, too? Will it be highly visible (under a window, for example), or used as kitchen table seating? The answers to these questions will help you choose the proper style and materials.

Materials and tools

To make a bench on a budget, either plywood or medium-density fibreboard (MDF) can be used. Depending on the material you use, you’ll also need varnish or paint for the finish. If you choose to upholster your bench, you’ll need furniture foam, batting and fabric.

If you’re making the bench into a chest, you’ll also need hinges for the lift-top. Screws and nails are required for all of the above. In addition, you’ll need the following tools to build your bench:

  • Workbench
  • Electric drill
  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape
  • T-square
  • Pencil
  • Fabric scissors
  • Sander
  • Stapler (to fasten the upholstery)

How to make a bench: an overview

  • For the bench to be comfortable to sit on, the seat height should be approximately 45 centimetre (18inches). This is the standard height for a chair.
  • For a cushy seat, the thickness of the furniture foam should be about 7.5centimetres (three inches) and the batting, 2.5 centimetres (one inch). Of course, you can always reduce the thickness if the bench is meant to be more decorative than functional.
  • For an upholstered seat that will last, the fabric should be durable. Fabric with a rubbing fastness of 30,000 will last for approximately seven years. You might want to choose washable fabric, especially if you have children. You can get more information about suitable choices at a fabric store.
  • For the most comfort, the back of the bench should be angled and the top of the setback should be approximately 10centimetres (four inches) further back than the base. For simplicity’s sake, you could also make a straight seatback, but it will be less comfortable to sit on.

Ask the pros for advice

Because your bench will be custom made, your best bet is to ask an expert at a home renovation centre how to make a bench adapted from a standard plan. And if it all seems too overwhelming, you could let a cabinetmaker build you the bench you want. Whichever way it comes to be, your new bench will take pride of place in your home.

How to make a bench on a budget
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