I love simple, beautiful projects that I can use in my landscape. If you add "versatile," then that's a trifecta that really gets me going.
And such is the case (if I may so modestly) of the MyFixitUpLife Backyard Bench. While originally designed as a garden feature, we now have three of them and use them for everything from sitting 'round our fire pit to storing lumber for outdoor projects. They're fun, easy to make and a perfect outdoor piece.
Materials - One 2 x 12 x 12. We used Western Red Cedar (which we ordered from a lumberyard - easy). Cedar tends to be more stable, lighter and have fewer big knots than the #2 pressure-treated material available at most home centers. However, you can also use pressure-treated lumber. Pick a nice, straight piece if buying from a home center. You'll also need exterior grade, 3-inch deck screws.
Circular or miter saw
Cordless drill driver or impact driver
You can scale the measurements from this bench up or down (in fact, we scaled one way down for a kids' bench inside the house that our three-year-old son sits on when we put on his shoes), but for the yard, this is what we made.
Step 1. Cut the 2 x 12 to 60 inches. This is the "seat."
Step 2. On each corner mark a 45-degree angle 3 inches from the end of the board and cut them off. This "clips" the corners, softening them.
Step 2A. This isn't necessary, but we ran a router around the edges of the seat to give it a little detail and further ease the edges.
Step 3. Cut the "legs." The legs are simple blanks of 2 x 12 cut at a 12-degree angle on each end. When you're done, the piece should look like a parallelogram. In other words, the angle cuts are angling the same way - parallel to each other. The legs are 15 1/2 inches long-point to short-point of the angle.
Step 4. From the remaining 2 x 12, rip (cut down the length) the "strut" 5 1/2 inches wide. You can do it with a circular saw, but a table saw is the ideal tool here. On each end, cut a 12-degree angle. These cuts are not parallel, but angled toward each other. From long to long, this piece is 47 1/2 inches.
Step 5. On the bottom side of the seat, mark the strut location. From each end, make a mark 7 1/2 inches in, near the center of the board.
Next, near those marks, make two more marks 4 3/4 inches in from each long edge. (This might vary 1/16- to 1/8-inch either way depending on the actual width of the 2 x 12 you get.)
When you place the strut such that it is touching each of these marks, it should be centered under the seat.
Next - and this can be tricky if you're working alone; a helper is nice to keep the strut on all six marks - drive four screws through the seat into the strut.
Step 6. Install the legs. Place the leg against the strut. Make sure its edges are flush with the seat, then drive two screws into the strut. Drive three more screws through the seat into the leg. Repeat for the second leg.
And that's it. A backyard bench extraordinaire.
But here's the thing. One is great. Three is awesome.
We've spread them around the yard for seating at parties. We've stored hundreds of pounds of material on them during deck and fence projects. Heck, you can even set them up in a triangle and use them for push-ups, dips and stretching. Not kidding.
Whatever you use your backyard bench for, I hope it's lots of fun. Can't wait to see what you come up with.