DIY 2×4 Bench

A while back I was scrolling through Pinterest and I stumbled across this beautiful bedroom –

Photo by Melissa Oholendt via Style by Emily Henderson

And I was all Smiling Face With Heart-Eyes on LG G5Smiling Face With Heart-Eyes on LG G5Smiling Face With Heart-Eyes on LG G5!

Mid-century dresser – love. Blue velvet tufted headboard – love. Gold accents – love. Color palette – love. It was no surprise to me that the room was designed by Emily Henderson because I love EVERYTHING she does. The bench in particular caught my eye and, well…. *prepare yourself for a long, run-on sentence* You know in the movies when the protagonist sees their soulmate for the first time and the camera pans away into a dream-like montage of what their amazing future is like together and then it cuts back to reality where the couple falls deeply in love and no one can ever separate them? Yeah. That’s kind of what it was like. I scrolled down through the post to see where I could get my hands on this bench to sadly discover that it was no longer available and based on the other items on the website, most likely out of my price range.

The more I looked at this bench, the more I realized that 1) I needed it and 2) This would make a great DIY. So I got to work!

I am really pleased with how the bench turned out! I made a few changes, deciding to use the 2×4’s horizontally instead of vertically just because I thought it made the bench look a little more delicate. For our king-size bed I made the bench 63″ w x 19″ h but it’s obviously very customizable! If you would like to make a bench for yourself, check out the tutorial below.

For this project you are going to need:

(4) 2×4’s at 63″ w
(4) 2×4’s at 60″ w
(4) 2×4’s at 19″ w
(4) 2×4’s at 16″ w
Wood Glue (I use Titebond II)
Orbital sander and sand paper
Dust Mask (for sanding)
2″ and 3″ Wood Screws
Drill and Drill Bit
Kreg Jig (optional but recommended)
Clamps (at least 24″)
Desired Wood Stain (I used Minwax Stain in Ebony)
Clear Coat Wood Finish
(4) Leveling legs

First, lay out all of your cut pieces and determined which sides of the wood you want on the inside and outside of the bench making subtle marks on the boards to note which boards go together. I chose to use the cheapest 2×4’s from Lowe’s which come with knots and marks so I tried to arrange the boards in a way to disguise some of these imperfections.

Here’s an obnoxiously colored diagram to show how the boards will be arranged:

Next, glue each side of the bench individually. I recommend starting with the short sides just to get the hang of it. Make sure to apply a very LIBERAL amount of glue to the 1 1/2″ long edges of the boards and measure to make sure they are all lined up. Add clamps – the more the merrier – and allow the glue to dry for a few hours. I allowed them to dry overnight. Learn from my mistakes and make sure to wipe up all of the excess glue from the boards while it is still wet. It is very difficult to sand any glue out of the cracks once it is dry and the glue will not take the stain. After each side is dry, give all of the pieces a good sand.

Next, add a screw diagonally through the ends of the short pieces into the longer boards as shown below. Make sure to pre-drill and counter-sink these holes to ensure that the screws will not split the wood and the boards will sit flush when assembled. These screws will be covered with the connecting boards at the top and bottom once the bench is assembled.

Dry fit the bench to make sure everything fits together. This may take a bit of persuading and a rubber mallet but it should end up fitting together like this:

At this point you will want to mark where you want additional screws. I did not want any of the screws that I added to be visible upon first glance, so I tried to add these strategically. The image below shows the bench upside down with the bottom up (and it’s a little out of order chronologically- whoops). If you have a Kreg Jig, you can add pocket holes which go from the shorter boards into the longer boards as shown by the red dots below. I did not have a Kreg Jig at this time, so I just pre-drilled holes diagonally so that when I assembled the bench with glue (the next step), I could add the screws then. For the pocket holes, make sure to use whatever length screw you need to ensure that the screw does not come out the exterior side of the bench. I believe I used 2″ screws here. Also, I added screws on the underside of the top side for additional support since once the bench was right-side-up, you wouldn’t be able to see the screws unless you were crouched down and looking up at the underside of the top. I’m just not too worried about people doing that… The blue dots show where I just drilled straight down through the longer boards into the short side boards. Mark screw locations during the dry fit and pre-drill necessary holes – then disassemble bench, add glue to joints, and reassemble.

Here’s a little closeup of the bottom of the bench. I know – they aren’t the most beautiful and clean pocket holes, but hey, you aren’t going to see them!

Then, just add clamps and allow the glue enough time to dry. Fill any gaps or cracks with some wood filler and if you are still bothered by the screw holes on the underside of the top, you could fill those holes at this time as well.  Once everything is dry, strap on your dust mask and get to sanding. You are going to be doing A LOT of it. I basically just sanded my brains out until I felt that I got to the desired look. Start with a lower grit like 100, then work your way up to 220. I think that sanding these boards and rounding over the corners takes this bench from “yeah, those are cheap 2×4’s” to “wow, that’s a nice piece of furniture!”.

So once you are all sanded, and you feel like you can’t sand anymore – it’s time to stain. You definitely want to brush off all of the dust from sanding, making sure to get into all the cracks and crevices getting them all cleaned out. I started by staining the bottom for a couple of reasons. 1) the bottom needs to be stained 2) I wanted to see how the stain would take to the wood and if I needed a wood conditioner which I decided wasn’t necessary and 3) I wanted to make sure I liked the stain. Take it from me, when you are applying the first drop of stain to your naked, raw project that you just spend a bunch of time and energy on – try the stain out in an inconspicuous area first. I’ve made this mistake in the past and man…fixing it can be a doozy.

So once the stain is dry, its time for the top coat. I decided to use a water-based clear coat from Minwax. This stuff goes on easy and is easy cleanup which is a win win for me!

Last but not least, install the leveling legs on the bottom of the piece. This isn’t 100% necessary, but I think it gives the bench a finished look, prevents it from getting scratched and keeps it level no matter where you end up putting it.

So there you have it! A beautiful custom bench that would be great for the end of the bed, an entryway, or behind a sofa. The possibilities are endless! I hope you give this DIY a try, and if you do I would love to see your DIY’s on Instagram – tag me @eyefordiy or use the hashtag #eyefordiy. Until next time, happy DIYing!


3 comments Add yours
  1. I love it! It’s classy, functional, and truly a piece of long lasting, never-go-out-of-style furniture.

  2. Love love your sense of style and ability to see the diy possibilities! It inspires me. Keep it up ❤

  3. Another remarkable accomplishment done by a talented individual. Such an Eye-For-DIY. Am I allowed to say how proud of you I am on this site (my youngest daughter)?

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