Y’all, I made a thing. Look.
That’s my new writing bench. I love (LOVE) to write outside. I’d tried using my patio table but the chair to table height was off and just didn’t work. So I looked at all the spare pallets in my hay barn and thought I’d build myself a bench. Want to know how to build one too? Keep reading.
Step one: Tear apart some old pallets. I used 4 for this project but could have gotten by with 3. I wanted a selection of different board widths and ages so I pulled boards from 4 pallets. The darker ones in the picture up there were from one that had been water damaged. Cleaned up they came out amazing and are my favorites.
Step two. Figure out your dimensions. I wanted mine to be roughly chair height so I used a comfy (and worn out) lawn chair to help me get my height and decide on the angle of the back. (I like a straighter back than most folks.) I used a bench seat cushion to determine the length and width of the seat. And some back cushions to determine the height of the back. You may need to purchase lumber for the frame and the legs. I didn’t because I had some super old pallets that were made with straight cross braces. You’ll see what I mean in a second.
Step three: Lay things out.
The layout for the seat. Make sure you won’t need to trim things or swap out board before you put things together. It is a lot easier to adjust things before screws come into play.
Step four: The base. I made mine pretty beefy as you can see below. It will be sitting on my back porch which isn’t a huge deal until I tell you that I’ve had 80 mph winds out there. I wanted to make sure this thing could take a beating if it had to. Those straight pieces are what I was talking about. Older pallets have straight braces like that. Newer ones have notches cut out of the braces to make them lighter. I am lucky to have a lot of old pallets so I’ll be able to make a few more benches if I want to. Once you get the frame for the base put together (use some long lag bolts) put on the seat boards with wood screws (make sure you get galvanized ones).
Step five: The legs. I set my seat on a hay bale to get my height right. Once I got the legs on I flipped it over. To add something cool. This is a heavy bench and thanks to my Rheumatoid Arthritis, I’m not as strong as I’d like to be. So I added casters to the bench so I can easily roll it into the barn for winter storage. Or into the house in a pinch if bad weather is looming.You’ll notice that the seat has a slight angle to it. I slopped it back a bit for comfort. Again, I like things straighter than most folks so adjust to suit your preferences. You’ll also notice that I sistered a second short leg to the main legs. I did this simply for the casters. If you’re not putting your bench on wheels, you won’t need to do this.
Step six: The back. You’ll want to put the base of the back in first. Bolt a board between the back two uprights (that will become the arms). I recommend testing out chairs to see what angle for the back feels comfortable to you. Set this base board at that angle. Use lag bolts to secure it then screw on your boards for the back. After you get them on, finish the back by adding the rest of the frame. You may also have to square off the boards. I know I measured each one right but they ended up a little off so I had to trim them a bit.
Step seven: The finishing touches. Last I added the arms and then a single long pallet brace across the front. You could get all fancy and add more details or arch the back, etc but I wanted to keep it simple.
The last steps are to sand it. I highly recommend washing it after you’re done sanding. It will get then bench cleaner than any tack cloth can and let’s face it, even sanded pallet boards are still dirty.
When I washed mine I knew that I didn’t want to stain it as I’d originally planned. Look at the beautiful contrast between each board. I couldn’t bring myself to cover it up. So I grabbed a can of oil base polyurethane and went to town. Boy was that wood dry.
The seat and back have poly on them in that picture, the arm doesn’t. It took three coats of poly before I had a nice shine on everything. The wood just drank it up like water.
All in all, I spent maybe $50 on this project. The pallets were free. The screws and bolts were pretty cheap. The cushions I got on clearance in the fall of last year. It took me about 5 months to build but that was just working on weekends and evenings after work. And around RA flares. And later around a streak of humid, rainy weather that kept me from putting on the poly. Not too bad for someone with RA I think. I know I could build a second one faster now that I know what I’m doing. I’m going to build a little footstool/table to go with this one next.
And I’ll go back to writing my second book too. It is already going better now that I have a great place to sit outside and write.
If you have any questions, please ask. I learned a lot in this project and didn’t even cover all of it in this post.