How To Build A Comfortable 2×4 Bench And Side Table

By on June 29, 2013

In this tutorial I will show you how to build a bench and a couple side tables. However, in the video tutorial I will only be building the bench. The tables are pretty self explanatory and I had no need for them at the moment so I did not include them in the video build. The bench utilizes pocket holes (Kreg Jig) to secure the slats with no visible screw heads. Don’t worry if you do not have a pocket hole jig. The slats can simply be screwed down from the top as well. I have included a picture near the end of this article to show you the bench without pocket holes. Also at the end of this article will be a downloadable plan, including my SketchUp file. To build one bench you will need the following materials:

  • Eight 8′ 2x4s
  • 24 2-1/2″ outdoor screws
  • 21 2-1/2″ outdoor pocket hole screws (Kreg Blue-Kote)
  • Outdoor wood glue (Tightbond III or any weatherproof construction adhesive)

Step 1:

The first step is to cut all of your pieces according to the materials list. You can make every cut with either a hand saw, circular saw, or in my case a miter saw.

2x4 bench plans

With all the pieces cut, arrange them so that the good side is down. We will be building from the inside out to minimize the appearance of screw heads.

Step 2:

To further reduce the appearance of screw heads we can cut pocket holes with a Kreg Jig on the upper horizontal leg pieces (20″) and the back supports (31″). You can locate the pocket holes using the included diagram. Remember to flip the cuts for the left and right pieces so you don’t end up with two left legs. You can skip this step if are going to secure the slats from above with screws.

2x4 bench plans

Step 3:

2x4 bench plans 21The legs are assembled with the horizontal members on top. Start with securing the 20″ piece to both legs first. When these pieces intersect they form a parallelogram. Be sure to put your 2-1/2″ outdoor screws along the long diagonal of this parallelogram as shown with this small image to the left (disregard the colors of this image). This will provide greater support. Use glue and two 2-1/2″ screws at every joint. Use another piece of 2×4 as a spacer to locate the lower horizontal member (23-3/4″).

2x4 bench plans

Step 4:

Next, attach the back supports so that they intersect the top corner of the leg assembly and are flush with the bottom of the lower horizontal leg member. Make sure that you do not overlap any pocket hole locations and that all of the pocket holes face the the inside of the bench. Each overlapping parallelogram gets glue and two screws along the long diagonal. It is also important to make sure these are attached at the same angle. I always secure one all the way and start with one screw on the second assembly. This way I can place them on the ground and make a slight adjustment if needed. Then finish securing the second back support.

2x4 bench plans

Step 5:

The 40″ seat stretcher is attached next. This piece connects both leg assemblies together. If you did not use pocket holes you can use two 2-1/2″ outdoor screws to attach directly into the lower part of the back supports. If you used pocket holes make sure you position the board so that the pocket holes are in the back.

2x4 bench plans

Step 6:

I always attach the back seat slat first. Make sure the good side is visible on all of your slats. Push it all the way against the back supports and attach it with glue and screws. If you are using pocket hole screws like me this first slat will be a little tricky to secure. I had to lift the leg assembly slightly and use a 6″ extension for my drill to be able screw it down. The rest of the seat slats are secured the same way. I designed this bench so that you could use a standard wood pencil as a spacer in between slats. If you don’t have one handy, the gap is 1/4″ between slats.

2x4 bench plans

2x4 bench plans

Step 7:

The back slats are secured the same way. However, I always increase the spacing between the seat and the first back slat just slightly. I use a permanent marker for my first spacing here (about 1/2″). Then I use the pencil again to space the rest of the back slats. I think it just flows a little better this way.

2x4 bench plans

Thats it for the bench. And here is the completed result. Nice an clean…

2x4 bench plans 2x4 bench plans

2×4 Side Table

In the video I only built a bench but here I want to include the instructions to build a couple side tables as well. These tables are very easy to make. You will need to use a pocket hole jig for this table. The table will go together pretty fast. Here’s what you need for each table:

  • Two 8′ 2x4s
  • 24 2-1/2″ pocket hole screws (Kreg Blue-Kote)

Step 1:

Cut all of your pieces according to the cutting diagram. To make the legs you will have to make two rip cuts with either a table saw or a circular saw.

2x4 side table

Step 2:

Next, drill all of your pocket holes according to the included diagram.

2x4 side table

Step 3:

Assemble the short side of the table first. It will be impossible to get a drill in here if you start with the long sides.

2x4 side table

Step 4:

Connect both short sides by attaching the longer sides.

2x4 side table

Step 5:

Lay your slats out with good side facing down and attach your frame to the slats. If you followed the pocket hole schedule you will use two pocket hole screws in each slat. You can add spacing if you like but I have never had a problem without a spacing.

2x4 side table

2x4 side tableThats it. I hope you can make this project, with or without the tables. Here is an example of a set I made with the tables and without pocket hole screws. I secured the slats from above with regular outdoor screws.

2x4 bench plans

Download The Plan

I provide all of my plans on this website free of charge. However, if you find this plan useful please consider using the PayPal donate button below. Any and all donations are much appreciated and help me to continue to provide free woodworking content. Thank you!

2x4 Bench With Side Tables FULL PLAN
2x4 Bench With Side Tables FULL PLAN
2x4 bench and side table.pdf
Version: 2
1.1 MiB
2x4 Bench With Side Tables
2x4 Bench With Side Tables
93.1 KiB

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  1. rex

    July 2, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    great build jay as always those angle cuts what degree are those

  2. John Long

    July 4, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Hey !!! One Great Bench, Thanks Mr. Jay Bates.

  3. Blair

    July 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Fantastic work – I have a slew of salvaged 4′ 2×4′s, and a 13′x11′ firepit area to spruce up at the beach for our wedding reception in 2 weeks. You just made my life easy, and my in-laws even happier, ha! And to think they were going to burn all those 2×4′s….

  4. Nan S Garber

    September 6, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Is there an easy way to add arms?

  5. Web Behrens

    October 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Jay, How much do you sell the benches for?

    • Jay Bates

      October 6, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      Materials + $10

      • Nate Logan

        March 18, 2014 at 1:27 pm

        You only charge $10 for your time and labor?! I take it you’re not subsisting on this?

        • Jay Bates

          March 18, 2014 at 1:39 pm

          I no longer make projects to sell. When I was making these I would batch them out for a local salesman. At that time I could average about 2 per hour, sometimes 3 if I had a large order. At the end of the day it’s just a 2×4 bench. It’s hard to make a killing with outdoor 2×4 furniture.

  6. Karen

    October 20, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Hi Jay
    Could some teenage boy scouts build several of these benches. What is your estimated time for boys with some adult guidance?

    • Jay Bates

      October 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      Sure they can! It would be a great project for boy scouts. I can build one in a half hour to an hour. I would say give them 2 hours to be safe.

  7. Marshall Watchinski

    October 29, 2013 at 5:31 am

    I’m a novice woodworker Jay. Very glad I stumbled across your youtube videos. Great guidence. This bench will be a great start to my future woodshop. I’ve been building some hay feeder boxes for my horses, but this will give me another avenue to pursue. Thanks much !

  8. Tandy

    November 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Dreat plan, thanks.
    Do you have the plan for the two connecting benches that fold in to make into a picnic table?

  9. David Dean

    December 14, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    I made the bench, table and chairs for my first ever woodworking project. They turned out great and my neighbor even bought them from me which wasn’t my intention but kinda cool. One thing I need some advice with is level the legs. Is there a system to doing this? Sometimes my chair legs don’t come out quite right and wobble a little. I cut one leg and then another hoping to get it right before I end up with a chair or bench that is two inches tall. I’m a total newbie. Does anyone have any advice?

    • Ben

      August 11, 2014 at 7:32 am

      Don’t take too much off. You only need to reduce the length of ONE leg of a four-legged structure to make it sit on all four legs equally. Choose the leg that seems to be bearing the most weight. You’re probably taking too much off at once.

      You can do it this way. BUT, if you adjust a piece of furniture for uneven ground, as soon as you move the piece even slightly, it will wobble again. Better to put dirt, gravel or a wood shim under the leg that’s off the ground. This is usually the way people do it even for indoor furniture on a completely level floor.

  10. Dmitri Lebedev

    December 15, 2013 at 7:36 am

    It’s quite hard to understand the inch system you write in.

    > Eight 8′ 2x4s

    does this mean 8-feet long boards, 2 by 4 inches thick?

    • Dmitri Lebedev

      December 15, 2013 at 7:54 am

      I found the skp file, and things are much clearer now.

  11. Michael Oaks

    January 13, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Hey Jay great job! As a previous viewer stated I would also like that bench with arms, just like the Swing Bench with legs, Im pretty Handy all around but with your easy to follow instructions I’m pretty sure I can do it. Also I’ve another doubt local hardware stores the treated lumber is very poor quality, mostly stored on moist locations and bent, would I’m better off using regular construction grade lumber and stained and finish it after built?

    • Jay Bates

      January 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      Hey Michael. I’m on my phone so I can’t post a link but for arms check out my horse bench tutorial. Combine whatever features you want from each.

      I actually prefer to avoid treated lumber. Yes, you can use regular lumber and stain. I use thompsons tinted water sealer with good results. Remember that the #1 killer for outdoor furniture is water rotting the legs from below. As long as you get a good sealer on the bottom of the legs and keep it in a non muddy area it should last a long long time.

  12. matthew

    February 9, 2014 at 11:54 am

    great design. very easy to understand video and plans. thank you. keep it up.

  13. john

    February 23, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Do you know how to make a folding adirondack lawn chair?

    • Jay Bates

      February 24, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      I do not have any plans for one at the moment. Sorry.

  14. Mike Gurr

    February 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Awesome and thanks. My parents are in their 80′s and I am going to build a bench and a couple of tables for them. I look forward to your articles.

  15. Ryan Miller

    March 23, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    If you want a bench with arms, cut your legs at 25″ instead of 17. Use jays example on how he builds his chairs, use those arms for your bench.

  16. Bill warmus

    March 28, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Thank You my mother loved her bench /Users/billwarmus/Downloads/IMG_20140328_154843.jpg

  17. aaron

    April 29, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    just built yourmockup using your measurements and they are off. I think your numbers are not the bottom but the tops of the boards. for others who may try in the future. had to tweek a bit but I have a close working model of what you designed

    • Jay Bates

      April 29, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      Please verify your measurements. Thousands of these benches have been made according to the diagrams with no problems. There are no top and bottom measurements when cutting according to the cutting diagram. They are all longest side measurements.

  18. Larry kuykendall

    May 10, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Jay, would it be possible to add a set of rockers to the bench to turn it into a rocking love seat

    • Jay Bates

      May 10, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Yes. I’ve wanted to do that forever but just haven’t gotten around to it. My thoughts would be to make the back legs lower so you lean a little more back and then add the rockers. Let me know how it works out for ya.

      • Larry k

        May 13, 2014 at 9:12 am

        Jay, do u have a recommendation for the rockers? Size. Length. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

        • Jay Bates

          May 13, 2014 at 9:28 am

          I honestly have no clue. It’s more of an experimental thing.

  19. phoenix

    June 3, 2014 at 6:48 am

    hey. i have a question what are the angles for this bench i have no clue where to find them or how to get them. if you could tell me i would greatly appreciate it


  20. Carolyn Collazo

    June 17, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Do you have a plan for a longer bench? Five or six foot. Love the bench, just need it longer. thanks!

  21. Allen Shockley

    June 24, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Thanks for the great free plan. My mother-in-law had planted a memorial apple tree last year for her late husband. It unfortunately lacked a comfortable place to sit where they chose to plant it. This bench (made from his recycled wood) made her cry while giving me a great big hug. Thanks from us both.

    • Jay Bates

      June 24, 2014 at 10:57 pm

      That’s awesome news Allen. I’m glad you found it useful :)

  22. ⓕⓣ (@folktrash)

    September 30, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    This was my first woodworking project, and it turned out great – thanks for the plans!

    I’d expect your how-tos would be well received on

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