How To Build a Finger-Joint Bench with 2×4 Boards

This modern bench can live indoors or out, and you can build it in a day with just a few 2x4s.

Next Project
Time

A half day

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

$20-50

Introduction

This modern bench lets you show off your DIY prowess. It looks more complex than it actually is. The key to a smooth assembly is to ensure that the parts are flat, straight and of equal thickness.

Tools Required

  • Belt sander
  • Clamps
  • Drill
  • Framing square
  • Table saw

Materials Required

  • 2-in. brad nails
  • 2x4 pine (60’)
  • Wood glue

Cutting List

Finger Joint Bench Cutting ListFamily Handyman

Project Plans

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Project step-by-step (5)

Step 1

Mill to the Final Width

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Rough-cut the boards to 2 in. longer than the finished size. Now, you’ll straighten one edge. Here’s how to do it without a jointer. Fasten a 4-in.-wide plywood straightedge to each board before ripping. Set the straightedge about 1/4 in. back from the edge of the 2x4. Don’t locate the screws too close to the ends (within 6 in.). Set the table saw fence to 4 in. and rip one edge off the board with the edge of the plywood against the fence. Repeat on each 2x4. With the newly straightened edge against the fence, rip all the 2x4s to 2-3/4 in. Keep the offcuts to fill gaps later.

Note: The most important part of this project is the milling process. If you have a jointer and planer, use them!

Step 2

Flatten the Faces

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Each face is cut in two passes. Set the table saw blade height to 1-1/2 in., and the fence to 1-3/8 in. With the flattest face against the fence, make the first pass. Flip the board over and complete the cut. Repeat on the other face so the final thickness of the board is 1-1/4 in.

Step 3

Crosscut to the Final Lengths

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Attach a fence to two miter gauges. Square one end of each board. Arrange the pieces in order for each part (two legs and the benchtop). Number each piece and mark the final length on each board with a square. Align the marks with the fence’s kerf and cut each part to final length.

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Step 4

Assemble the Bench

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Place a piece of melamine on your workbench for a gluing surface. Spread glue onto the board’s faces and assemble the bench, alternating long and short boards. Fasten the layers together with 2-in. brad nails. Check for square and flush as you go, and wipe any excess glue with a damp rag. Plus: Check out 53 brilliant gluing tips and tricks here.

Step 5

Fill, Sand and Finish

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Fill any gaps with wood filler. If any of the gaps are large, try gluing in offcuts from the milling process. Let the glue dry and cut flush with a handsaw. Sand the bench to 220 grit and apply a finish of your choice. If your bench will live outside, topcoat with several coats of spar varnish.

finger joint benchFamily Handyman

Next, check out this trestle bench project you can DIY.