Japanese Garden Bench

Combine five 2x4s, a handful of screws and a long afternoon to build a handsome and sturdy sitting spot for your deck or garden.

by Christopher Schwarz & Kara Gebhart Uhl

My father always has had a knack for doing more with less. He built the first house on our farm using a Skil saw, a drill and a hammer. Sometime during my childhood he built a pair of these Japanese-looking benches using leftover 2x4s and framing nails. While visiting him one summer, I was struck by the fact that they have survived more than a dozen winters and still look good.

This project is really great for the beginning woodworker who doesn’t have a lot of tools, skills or confidence. But the end result will make you look like you’ve got all three, in spades.

Trip to the Lumberyard

This bench is designed to be built using just five 10′-long 2x4s. You can build it from sugar pine, paint it and spend less than $10. I always liked redwood for my outdoor projects (and that’s what the originals were made from) so I spent the extra cash – about $200. No matter what species you choose, select the straightest, most knot-free 2x4s you can find.

While you’re at the lumberyard, pick up a pound of stainless-steel screws. Associate Editor Kara Gebhart (who helped me build this project) and I used #8 x 2″ screws. Another excellent choice would be Miller Dowels.

Download this PDF for the rest of the article, including the drawings and cutlist:
GardenBench.pdf