3 Easy-to-Build Outdoor Benches

Build one or more of these easy-to-build, attractive outdoor benches, from mail-order plans: a log and plank bench, the Leopold bench and the Jordan Pond bench and table.

| April/May 2004

  • Log Bench
    Two sturdy logs and a rough-cut plank make a satisfying garden bench.
    Photo by Len Churchill
  • Garden Bench
    Build this garden bench, originally designed by the American naturalist, Aldo Leopold.
    Illustration by Len Churchill
  • Pond Bench
    This sturdy outdoor furniture is inspired by the same furniture at Jordan Pond House restaurant in Acadia National Park.
    Illustration by Len Churchill

  • Log Bench
  • Garden Bench
  • Pond Bench

When's the last time you sat quietly in the outdoors? Do you even have a place where you can sit in your garden or woodland? Every property owner should have at least one bench to enhance a favorite spot. Our trio of build-it-yourself bench designs lets you choose the quick, inexpensive and easy Plank Seat; the Leopold Bench with its clever backrest design; or the solid, classic look of the Jordan Pond Bench and Table. And, we have detailed plans and materials lists available to help those of you who are not experienced woodworkers.

The Plank Seat

A couple of log sections and a sturdy board are all you really need to make the Plank Seat for a quiet spot by a garden, lakeshore or campfire ring. Although a few tools are handy for building this bench, they're not essential. If you don't have any short logs handy, ask a friend with a chain saw to cut a couple of 12- to 14-inch-long stumps off a log for the two uprights you'll need. A simple plank across the top does the rest. A rough-sawn 2-by-12 is terrific here, but a piece of milled, construction-grade lumber works, too. Whatever you choose, the bench will look best if you extend the seating plank beyond the uprights by 6 to 8 inches.

If you're a traditionalist, fasten the plank to the stumps with finch hardwood dowels driven into holes bored into the stumps. Hot-dipped galvanized spikes or 4-inch-long wood screws are a faster, though more modern, alternative.

Place the stumps on a well-drained spot so they last longer, and peel the bark as it loosens over time. The large, flat seating plank is ideal for visitors to carve their initials in as a reminder of their time at your place. Think of it as a great, big outdoor guest book.

Leopold Bench

Great writers give the world more than words; they offer a new way of seeing, and that's the enduring legacy of American naturalist Aldo Leopold. Author of the 1949 environmental classic A Sand County Almanac and co-founder of The Wilderness Society, Leopold spent a great deal of time thinking about our place in the natural world. He promoted conservation of natural resources and an ethical relationship between people and the land. His simple, sturdy bench design reflects these ideals.

Leopold designed the bench while visiting the run-down farm he purchased along the Wisconsin River in central Wisconsin. Leopold, his wife, Estella, and their five children renovated the only structure on the property — a chicken coop — into a small cabin for weekend retreats. "The Shack," as the structure is now called, is the only chicken coop on the National Register of Historic Places.

6/6/2015 11:53:46 PM

nice idea.I will try it at my backyard to sit in sun in winter season. http://naturalwaysofhealing.blogspot.com/

5/13/2013 10:36:36 AM


Ann Pulley
3/6/2013 11:28:26 PM

This story says it is how to make THREE benches, but there is a picture of only ONE bench. Part two talks of a shack and a bench different somehow from the first... Why would I buy plans for something I cannot SEE ?



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