How to Build a Mid Century Modern Slatted Bench

February 3, 2022

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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Last week I shared how to build a modern dining table inspired by a recent West Elm Collection. After building this beautiful table, I knew I had to build a bench to match its mid century modern style. With two key features for the bench to fulfill, functional and interesting, I decided on a long, modern slatted bench. A bench is the best way to add more seating around a table. With just chairs, we were able to fit 8-10 comfortably around our new 7 foot table. Replacing one side’s chairs with a bench added 2 more seats. With our growing family, this is perfect!

Dining room with mid century modern furniture


(Instructions are based on a 76″ long x 15″ wide; 17 1/2″ tall bench) If building a different size, be sure to adjust measurements accordingly). 

Wood Needed for Modern Slatted Bench:


2x6x8 pine boards (3)


2x10x8 pine boards (1)


2X4X8 pine boards (3)


1X1 wood square dowel (@ 8ft, you’ll need 6) (A cheaper way to get this same board: Rip 1x6x8’s into 1 inch strips; 1-2 eight foot pinewood boards is all you should need).

Materials Needed for Modern Slatted Bench:

Kreg Jig Screws 2 1/2″

GRK Wood Screws 2 1/2″ (any brand wood screw will work; just sharing my favorite here)

GRK Wood Screws 1 1/2″

Finish (I.E. paint/stain/poly) (If building for an outdoor space, be sure to use exterior poly)

Here’s a list of the Finish products I used:

Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner

Golden Oak Stain

Satin Polyurethane

General Finishes Polyurethane (Satin)

Satin Black Paint

Tools Needed:

Miter saw



Kreg Jig

Table saw (OPTIONAL)

Affiliate Links Included

NOTE: If you’ve never used a Kreg Jig, here’s a great tutorial.   If you don’t have one, I highly recommend buying one. You will use it all the time in the DIY realm! And it makes builds so much easier!  Amazon has a great price for them! Here’s the link!!

Step One: (OPTIONAL) Rip your boards

This step is completely optional. I like to get rid of the manufactured edge on all of my 2x’s before starting any project. Notice how the boards below have a curved edge….

Pine wood boards

Straight-edge lines are much cleaner and professional looking. Can you see the difference?

Seven pine wood boards with edges squared off

This is very easy, but does require a table or circular saw. I’ll share the widths I take them to and then explain how I do this…

For the bench top, I rip the three 2×6’s to 5″ wide. (2×6’s are actually 5 1/2″ wide)

For the legs, I rip the one 2×10 to 7 1/2″ wide. (2×10’s are actually 9 1/4″ wide)

For the stretcher/supports, I rip the three 2×4’s to 2 1/2″ wide. (2×4’s are actually 3 1/2″ wide)

Now for How I Do This: (Here’s a great post on how I give my boards a finished look)

I’ll use the bench top boards for my example. As noted above, I want my 2×6 bench top boards to be 5″ wide. They are originally 5 1/2″ wide. I simply set my table saw for 5 1/4″ and rip one side of my 2×6. Then I set my table saw to 5″, flip my board over and rip that side of my board. Now I have a 5″ wide board with straight edges on both sides. Follow these same steps for your other boards, to get rid of that manufactured curved edge and achieve a straight edge look.

Step Two: Build the bench top

Cut three 2×6’s to 76″.

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes down the length (approximately every 12″) of one side of two of the 2×6’s.

Attach these three boards together, using clamps and 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws…

2x6's clamped together for modern slatted bench build

Fun side note: My grandpa passed several of his tools onto me when he retired from woodworking. These bar clamps are my most used tool from his entire collection. Back in the day, when my grandpa bought these at his local hardware shop, he paid $8.77 for each of them. They still make these clamps today. Understandably, because they are SO good! But the price has gone up a bit...One pair on Amazon runs $110! Gotta love inflation. Thankfully, my grandpa passed down four of these to me. And because they used to make things to last forever, they’re as good as new today. 🙂 We’ll never see that kind of price on them again, but they are worth having! So, even with that much higher price, I would definitely buy them today, if I didn’t have them in my shop….

Price tag on a bar clamp

Ok, I digress, let’s get back to the build. 🙂

Step Three: Build the legs

Cut four 2×10’s to 16″

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on one end of all four boards…

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on one side of two of these boards.

When all is said and done, your boards will look like this…(Note: The text bubble on the left has an error…All four boards will have pocket holes on one end. The text bubble on the right is correct.)

Graphics on two 2x10's marking where pocket holes need to go

Attach two boards together using clamps and 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. Repeat with remaining two boards. When finished you’ll have two legs….

Legs for a modern slatted bench

Attach legs to underside of both ends of bench top, using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. Use a square to make sure you have a perfect 90 degree angle when drilling…. (Note: triangle in picture below is called a Speed “Square”)

Leg for the modern slatted bench attached and squared

I found it helpful to use my bar clamp to hold the leg in place. This really helped to keep it square….

2x10's clamped to 2x6's

Step Four: Add supports

Cut two 2×4’s to fit between the bench legs and attach flat, using 2 1/2″ wood screws…

Underneath view of modern slatted bench with graphic pointing out supports

Cut three 2×4’s to fit between your two supports and attach using 2 1/2″ wood screws…

Underneath view of modern slatted bench with graphic pointing out supports

Step Five: Add stretcher

Cut one 2×4 to 73″

Gravity will be working against you on this one, so prop up this board with a 2×4 on each end…

2x4 propped up with another 2x4 to be attached to modern slatted bench

Attach stretcher to legs using 2 1/2″ wood screws from the outside of the legs….

Side view of leg pointing out where stretcher is attached

Your modern bench should now look like this….

Stretcher added to modern slatted bench

Step Six: Sand and finish

After sanding, I painted the legs black. I then stained the top and stretcher with Varathane Golden Oak Stain….

Modern slatted bench painted black on legs and stained on top

Step Seven: Add slats

Stain each one (top,sides and ends)….

1x2's stained

Attach these boards (using 1 1/2″ wood screws) to the outside and inside of each leg. Leaving space between each slat as you go. It’s easiest to use one of your 36 boards as a spacer when placing each slat. It will look like this, when finished….

Slats added to modern slatted bench

And there you go! Doesn’t it look amazing with the table? I love the black accents on the legs. And with our light–Perfect!

Dining room with a table, chairs and a bench on a rug

Wanting a softer texture, I added this faux fur blanket

Faux fur blanket on bench at dining room table

I also added a touch of color and more texture with these mid century upholstered chairs.

View of dining room with 7ft table and seating all around it

We love welcoming guests into this cozy, inviting space. There’s plenty of room for everyone to gather around the table. Warms my heart every time!


Until next week,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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