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Build your own backyard arbor bench

As summer approaches (and garden excitement grows) it's always fun to make the most of the outdoors, especially do-it-yourself weekend projects like this functional (and comfortable) arbor bench. Following is a detailed outline of the basic steps and recommended materials, but remember: this is your bench, so feel free to make adjustments as you see fit. And as always, be sure to sketch it out beforehand to get a good idea of what's involved.  

Lumber Required:

  • 2x4's (one 8' length, three 10' lengths)
  • 2x6's (eight 8' lengths, three 10' lengths)
  • 4x4's (four 8' lengths)
  • 2x8' lattice panels (2)
  • 1x1's (eight 8' lengths)
  • 2x3’s (28’ total)

Materials List:

  • Galvanized finishing nails
  • 2x4' joist hangers (6)
  • Deck fastening brackets (6')
  • 2 1/2" screws (12)
  • 5 1/2" x 3/8" carriage bolts
  • 3/8" washers (8)
  • 3/8" nuts (16)
  • Sandpaper
  • Clear wood sealer
  • 3 1/2" deck screws (box)

Tools Needed:

  • Tape measure
  • Framing square
  • Socket wrench set
  • Small pump sprayer
  • Circular saw
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Table saw

Construction Steps:

Sides

  • Step 1: Begin by assembling the sides of the bench. Cut your 4x4's to lengths of 84" each and divide into pairs—two for the left side, two for the right side.
  • Step 2: Mark and cut 1/4" grooves (using your circular saw) at the following points from the bottom of each post: 6", 7.5", 70.5" and 72"
  • Step 3: After measuring the actual width of your side lattice panels, add 1/2" (to compensate for the 1/4" grooves) and cut 2x4's to this length. (You should have four identical 2x4' pieces which will serve as the crosspieces between the posts.)
  • Step 4: Turn your left side posts so that the grooves are facing each other. Position your crosspieces in the grooves and secure in place with deck screws. Now repeat this for the right side.

Seat

  • Step 5: At this point, you'll begin assembling the seat frame for your bench. Start by cutting three pieces of 2x4' into 24" lengths. Then, equally space these three pieces between two 2x4's that measure 5' each.  Secure these together with nails and joist hangers. (The entire frame should look like a ladder.)
  • Step 6: Next to the top of each crosspiece, add your deck fastening brackets.
  • Step 7: Now cut four 2x6 pieces into 5' lengths. Equally space them across the top of your frame (flush to the edges) and attach with deck screws. (This is the actual 'seat' part of your bench.)
  • Step 8: Attach the bench between the posts. Begin by placing your side panels on their back posts, then mark the desired height of your seat on all four posts. (A comfortable height could be 15-20".)
  • Step 9: After sliding the seat between the posts, check for square and secure in place with deck screws. You should now be able to stand all four posts upright, with the left and right side panels connected by the seat.

Backrest

  • Step 10: Measure the distance between your back posts, and cut three 2x6’ pieces to this length.
  • Step 11: At a point 6" above the seat, begin screwing your three 2x6’ backboards into place between the posts. (Be sure to keep equal distances between the backboards as you move up the posts.)

Side latticing

  • Step 12: With your bench now almost complete, you can attach the lattice panels to each side. (Each will be held between 1x1’s mounted vertically between the crosspieces on each post.) At identical locations on both sides, simply nail your outer 1x1 mounts into the posts. Then slide your lattice panels in and nail inner 1x1 mounts to 'sandwich' the latticing in place.

Trellis

  • Step 13: Begin by cutting two 2x6’ pieces into 7' lengths each. Centre one of these to the outside of your back posts and attach with carriage bolts, nuts and washers. (The piece should be flush to the top of the posts and should extend equally on both sides.) Now do the same by taking the other piece and attaching it between the front posts.
  • Step 14: Cut seven 2x3’s into 48" lengths each, and attach them across the top 2x6's. (Again, these should be spaced evenly apart—approximately 9" between.)
  • Step 15: Finally, you can tackle the finishing touches. Just sand all the wood surfaces and apply two coats of clear sealer with a pump sprayer. Then sit back and relax—after everything dries of course!

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