Easy Steps for How to Build a Modern Bench

March 27, 2024

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Wrapping up our 2-week bench series with a simple wood bench DIY. Last week I shared how to build a bench with purchased legs. This week I’m sharing how to build a bench AND legs.

Such a super-easy build! And like I said last week, if you can build a bench you can build a table. Legs, frame, top–that’s it! Be sure to check back next week for my latest coffee table tutorial.

Header image

I love this timeless, modern bench I built for my brother and sister-in-law. An easy DIY bench that will only take a couple of hours to build. Let’s get to it!

Simple Wood Bench DIY

Materials Needed:

Tools Needed:

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The first step is determining how long, wide and tall you want your modern bench to be. For this build, we’re using the following dimensions:

This simple bench is 71 inches long, 16 1/2 inches wide, and 17 1/2 inches tall (height).

Note: You’ll want to allow for some overhang, therefore, the width and length of your bench frame will be 4 inches shorter than the bench top. This allows for a 2-inch overhang on each side. 

Therefore, our bench frame measurements are: 67″ long; 12 1/2″ wide. The height stays the same (17 1/2″ tall).

Step One: Build the legs

We’ll start off with building the legs.

For the bench legs: Cut four 2X4’s at 17 1/2 inches.

Then cut two 2×4’s at 9 1/2 inches. These will be the leg stretchers. They’ll bridge the bench legs together, as shown in the picture below.

Drill 2 1/2″ pocket holes in the ends of each of the 9 1/2″ stretchers.

Attach one 9 1/2 inch stretcher between two 17 1/2″ legs, using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. The ends of the legs should be flush with the top of the stretcher.

Repeat with the remaining stretcher and two legs…

2 modern bench legs built

Now you have your legs for each end of the bench.

Step Two: Long Expanders

Next, we need to connect the legs with expanders.

Cut two 2X4’s at 60″ each….

two 2x4's on a sheet of plywood

Drill 2 1/2″ pocket holes on each end and attach to the legs using wood glue and 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws….

drill, wood glue, pocket hole screws on plywood

The expanders should be flush with the edges of the legs. Here’s a good view of what your bench should look like so far…

bench frame built

Step Three: Supports

Now, your frame is built and ready for supports. Cut three 2X4’s to fit in between the expanders. This provides extra support for the middle of your modern bench.

You will cut these to fit snugly between the expanders. Drill 2 1/2″ pocket holes in the ends of each 2X4 and attach with 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws, as shown below….

Note: In the picture below, I haven’t drilled my pocket holes yet.

bench frame with supports

Step Four: Visible Stretchers

Cut two more 2X4’s at 9 1/2″. Attach using 2 1/2″ finishing wood screws from the sides (as shown below). It’s kind of tricky to get your drill in this compact space, so I found it easier to attach them from the sides….

bench leg with expander added

Step Five: Visible Expander

Cut a 1X5 board (bottom board in picture below) to fit snug between the two visible stretchers. Drill 2 1/2″ pocket holes on each end. Attach to the visible stretchers using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws.

This board, cut to fit, should be flush with the top of the two visible stretchers…

bench frame with long expander

Cut a 1X5 board (top board in picture below) to fit 3/4’s of the way across each visible stretcher. Attach with 2 1/2″ finishing screws…

bench frame with long expander

Step Six: Build the top (seat)

Moving onto the seat boards. Cut three 2X6’s at 71 inches long. Drill pocket holes on one long side of two of the boards and attach all three boards together using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws.

It’s helpful to use clamps to hold the wood pieces together. These are my favorite clamps to use for all of my bench and table builds.

bench top being built out of three 2x6's with pocket holes

Center the bench top to the bench frame. Use your tape measure to ensure you have a two-inch overhang on all four sides. Attach the bench top to the bench frame using 2 1/2″ finishing screws.

Step Seven: Finishing Touches

Fill in nail holes with wood filler. Sand the entire bench. (Here’s a great tutorial on the right way to sand furniture). 

Paint or stain and voila! You have a finished bench. A nice, sturdy, beautiful bench for your family to enjoy….

bench painted black

I love how it looks with my brother and sister’s-in-law dining room table…

dining room with farmhouse table and modern bench

I hope you found these free bench plans helpful. This great design would be perfect for:

  • outdoor seating
  • extra seating
  • an outdoor bench in a garden
  • at the end of a bed

This very simple design will look great anywhere.

FAQ’s: Simple Wood Bench DIY

Is this bench suitable for outdoor use?

Yes, this basic bench design can be used for outdoor seating with the right type of wood and protective finish. It’s also great for extra seating indoors or at the end of a bed.

What’s the best way to ensure my bench is stable and doesn’t wobble?

To ensure stability, make sure all cuts are precise and all joints are tightly secured. Using a level during assembly can help ensure that your bench sits flat.

Additionally, double-check that all legs are cut to the same length and that the frame is square before attaching the bench top.

How do I choose the right wood type for my bench?

When selecting wood, consider the bench’s intended use. For indoor use, any solid wood like pine, oak, or maple can be great for aesthetics and durability.

For outdoor benches, choose weather-resistant wood like cedar, teak, or treated lumber to withstand the elements.

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

Until next time,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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Other building project posts:

How to Build a Mid Century Modern Slatted Bench

Easy How to Build the Pottery Barn Brooks Table Bench

How to Build a Modern Dining Table | West Elm Dupe

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  1. Jennifer

    Looks great! What paint did you use for the bench?

    • Nicole Nigg

      Thank you! I used Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black. It’s definitely my go-to for all black paint. :)


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