Perfect Patio Combo: Wooden Bench Plans With Built-in End Table
This patio bench offers comfortable seating with built-in end tables to set your drinks at parties and barbecues.
Our original plan for this patio set included sofas and separate end tables-because every patio needs seating and a place to set cold drinks! Then it hit me: Why not combine both into a simpler, sleeker, rock-solid design?
The result is a sofa with extra-wide armrests that double as small tabletops. It's easy to build and easy to customize: You can adjust the width to suit both your space and the seat cushions you choose. I've provided dimensions for two sizes, but you can make it any size you like.
- Basic hand tools
- Circular saw
- Drill/driver - cordless
This attractive patio bench project requires only the most basic tools and materials: a few hand tools, three power tools and standard dimensional lumber. The skills needed are basic too: Just cut parts and screw them together. There are a few tricky cuts, but they don’t have to be perfect. And if you make a mistake during assembly, you can remove a few screws and try again.
Project step-by-step (10)
Choose the Lumber for Your DIY Bench
Except for the seat cushions, all the materials you need are available at home centers, which is just one reason why this combo is on our list of brilliant wood bench ideas. I chose cedar-colored treated lumber. Naturally rot-resistant woods like cedar and cypress would also be good choices, though they’ll cost you an extra $80 or so.
Treated lumber is notorious for warping as it dries, but I’ve had good luck with this approach: I buy treated lumber about three weeks before I plan to build. I carefully select good-looking boards and buy about 25 percent extra so I can cut out large knots and other imperfections. At home, I stack the lumber on sawhorses in the shade. I don’t want the sun to bake the wood-fast, uneven drying leads to warping. Every few days, I rearrange the stack so that all boards get some surface air exposure.
Cut the Legs
- Mark the cutouts on the legs.
- Drill holes at the corners of each cutout and use those holes to start and stop your cuts.
- Pro tip: Mark and cut one leg, then double-check the measurements and use that first leg as a template to mark the other three.
Assemble the Tables
- Screw the legs to the bottom shelf, using 3-in. blocks to position it.
- Screw on the arm.
Bevel the Seat Struts
- Make a tilted ‘bevel’ cut along one edge of each strut.
- Pro tip: Set your saw to 5 degrees and install the saw’s rip guide to steady your cut.
- Note: Don’t worry about getting exact bevel cuts on the seat struts; they’ll be covered by the seat slats. So even if they’re not perfectly straight or smooth, they’ll still allow the seat slats to lie flat.
Assemble the Seat Frame
- Screw the seat frame together with the bevel cuts on both struts facing up.
- Note: When you’re assembling the seat frame, install the two seat braces at the ends first. Then make sure the seat frame fits easily inside the tables. If not, you can easily cut all the seat braces just a bit shorter. The exact dimensions of treated lumber can vary slightly, so the brace measurements in the Cutting List may need to be altered.
Install the Seat Frame
- Screw the seat frame to the tables from inside with 2-3/4-in. screws.
- Pro tip: Drive them at an angle so they don’t poke completely through the table legs.
Add the Back Braces
- Screw the back braces to the seat frame.
- Note: Make sure the tables are standing perfectly square before you screw the braces to them.
- Pro tip: The back braces look complicated. But like the seat struts, they don’t have to be perfect. Cut one brace, use it to mark the other two, and then cut 3/4 in. off the middle brace.
Install the Seat Slats
- Cut notches in the front and rear slats to fit around the front legs and back braces.
- After the front and rear slats are installed, space the other three slats evenly between them.
- Note: If it’s difficult to slide the seat frame into the tables, back out two of the screws that fasten the bottom shelf to the legs. That will allow the legs to spread slightly. Then, when the frame is in place, retighten the screws.
- Pro tip: When you mark the seat slats for notching, don’t determine the notch locations by measuring. Instead, set the slats in place and mark the notch positions along the back braces or table.
Finish the Back
- Screw the back rail and cleats to the back braces, then screw on the back slats, using 3/4-in. spacers to position them.
Stain the Bench
- Use long, even brushstrokes and stain the boards and panels one at a time to keep the stain from pooling or blotching.
- Let the finish dry at least two days.
- Nail a pair of plastic furniture guides onto the bottom of each leg to help keep the legs dry.