Build this light, but strong bench in about 4 hours. Use it as a table and as scaffolding as well as for sitting.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:April 2011
I was talking to Bill Nunn, one of our
rock-star painting consultants, and
my eyes rested on his elegant (and
elegantly beat-up) bench. He always has it
with him, so I asked him to tell me about it.
Twenty-plus years ago, he set out to design
the ultimate painter's bench. It had to be
light, so he chose pine. It needed to be the
right height to stand on for high brush work
and, of course, to sit on for breaks. It had to
be easy to move, so he gave it a handle. Then
it had to be easy to haul through countless
doorways while he worked. That called for
curved stretchers so he could comfortably
tuck it under his arm.
Bill designed not only the ultimate painter's
bench but also a great platform for many
other home improvement jobs. And with the
right wood or finish, it would be just as fitting
as a high-end boot bench or a stool for the
man cave. Here's how to build your own.
Bill's bench is light and easy to carry. It serves him as a handy painting table and scaffold when he needs to paint high areas. And, yes, he sits on it too!
Buy yourself a 6-ft. 1x12 and an 8-ft.
1x6. Pine will cost you about $15.
Choose any wood species you like, but
select the flattest 1x12 you can find.
While you're at the home center, pick
up a small box of 2-in. finish screws
and a No. 1 square-head screw bit. Oh,
and make sure you still have a quarter
in your pocket when you get home
(more on that later).
Overall bench dimensions: 36“ x 15“ x 12“
You can download a pdf of Figure A in “Additional Information” below.
Cut all the parts from an 8-ft. 1x6 and a 6-ft. 1x12.
You can download a pdf of Figure B in “Additional Information” below.
Use your table saw's miter gauge when you cut all the parts to
final length. Screw a 1x2 to your miter gauge so you can clamp on
a stop block for identical cuts. Cut parallel 5-degree bevels on the
top and bottom of the legs.
Figure B shows you how to lay out the
parts. Cut all the parts to rough length
(1/2 in. overlong) first. You can use
a circular saw for that. Then rip the
parts to final width by crosscutting
on the table saw with the miter gauge,
including the 5-degree bevels at both
ends of the legs (Photo 1). (You could
make all the cuts with a circular saw,
but you'll get much better results with
a table saw.)
Mark the starting and stopping points of the stretcher curves, then
scribe them using the 1/4-in.-thick scribing slat. Use the same trick
to mark the curve on the legs.
Clamp together the stretchers and legs and cut the curves with a
jigsaw. This trick will give you identical matching parts and keep
you from having to mark curves more than once.
Belt-sand the curved parts to eliminate saw marks and smooth
out the curves. A belt sander works best, but an orbital sander will
do the job too.
Notice in Figure B that there's a 1/4-in.-
wide slat. That's for scribing the curves
on one leg and one stretcher. When you
rip the slat, choose wood that doesn't
have any knots or it'll snap when
you're bending it. Either get a helper
to help you make the scribes or use
clamps and nails (Photo 2). It's simple:
Just mark your starting and stopping
points, bend the slat and make your
scribes. Clamp both boards together
and make the cuts with a jigsaw (Photo
3). Then clamp both boards together
again and smooth out the curves with a
belt sander (Photo 4).
Use a quarter to outline the outside corners, then cut and sand all
Here's the part about the quarter. Use
it to mark all the outside corners for
rounding (Photo 5). Also trace around
the quarter to mark the ends of the
handholds. Then use a 1-gallon paint
can to draw the front and back of the
handhold. Soften all the edges with
100-grit sandpaper, and if you wish,
sand all the parts for finish before
First attach the stretchers to the legs. Then screw the bench seat
to the legs and stretchers, and finally, center and screw the feet to
Make all your connections with 2-in.
finish screws for a rock-solid bench.
A bonus is that the small heads are
inconspicuous. Predrill 1/8-in. pilot
holes, especially if you're building
with hardwood. Screw the stretchers
to the legs first and then center and fasten
the bench seat to both the legs and
the stretchers. Lastly, flip the bench
upside down and screw the feet to the
bottom of the legs (Photo 6). Finish your
masterpiece any way you wish. Or go
au naturel—the bench, not you!
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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