The holidays were well upon us, and seating for the dining table was not adequate for all the visitors that were coming over. We needed to add seating quickly. A bench for the dining table was a fast and easy solution. During one of her antique excursions, the wife found some end table legs for a couple of dollars. This became the core of our bench project. The bench was designed to be 60″ long and 23.5″ wide. These measurements were due to a roll of 2″ foam we found which was 47″ wide. Our original plan was to cut the foam in half and make a really cushy bench. That was changed once we saw it all together. The end product was a single layer of the 2″ foam which had plenty of cushion for a comfortable bench. Aside from my over engineering tendencies, this project can be completed in an afternoon from start to finish.
The legs we found were 2 3/4″ wide at the top, which would be taken into account when we cut our pieces to length. The wood of choice was a prime pine 1×4 for the sides and ends. We had some leftover 1×3 pieces which we would use for the angle pieces to affix the legs with. To make the correct dimensions we mentioned earlier, we cut two 54 1/2″ boards for the sides and two 7 3/4 length pieces for the ends from the 1×4 pine boards. The angles for the legs were cut four pieces at 7″ on a 45-degree angle. (Here is where my over engineering mindset took over) I had decided to make a more substantial mount for the legs, so I cut the 1×3 pieces a little longer than I needed and glued them together ahead of time. I don’t believe this was necessary, but the bolt for the legs was just long enough to reach through the hole. You can try with just a single width. We have two young rambunctious kids that have a hard time sitting still so I felt better with this design.
For the angle pieces, we found the center of each one and used a 1/2″ Forstner drill bit to drill a hole through each of the four 7″ angle pieces. To attach the angles to the frame, I then drilled four small pilot holes with my #8 countersink bit just about 1/8″ deep around the center hole. Just enough for the bit to grab a hold of the wood for the actual countersink. Then turned the piece on its 45-degree angle and drilled the countersink all the way down until the bit stopped. This is done on all four or the angle pieces.
Dry fit all the framework together along with the legs and square everything up. Once you have everything square, loosely bolt the legs to each of the angle pieces. Make sure to leave enough play that there is a space between the leg and the angle piece when in place on the bench. This will allow you to add tension and tighten the legs over time if they ever get a little loose and wobbly. In order to have a secure bench frame, glue the ends of the 7″ angle pieces and stick them back into the framework. Using 1 1/2″ #8 screws in each of the four pilot holes of each angle piece, secure the angles onto the side and end frames. double check the frame is still square.
Using a Kreg Jig (a must have tool for DIYers), drill pocket holes on the inside of the frame so they are facing up. You will use these holes to secure the top to the frame once it has been upholstered.
Lay the frame on top of a piece of 3/4″ plywood. (You could probably use a thinner piece for the top as the bench is not very wide. But again, I tend to over engineer things, and the top will provide additional stability to the frame once it is secured to the bench.) Line the bench frame along two sides of the plywood and draw out a line on the other two sides. Use a straight edge (I use a sheetrock square for long straight lines) to draw out the shape so you have good lines to cut along. Cut out the top with a circular saw or worm saw. Cut slowly and straight. If you need additional help, there are tools that will assist in straight cuts.
Put your bench top onto your foam and draw the outline. Cut out the foam and you are ready to upholster your bench top. put a piece of fabric face down on a flat surface and then your foam and plywood top. Using 1/2 staples, take your staple gun and secure your fabric to the top. Start in the middle, and pull the fabric tight for each staple. After all the staples are in, take a hammer and tap in any staples that did not go all the way in. Place your bench frame on top of the top and use 1 1/4″ pocket screws to secure the frame to the top.