Project – How to build a 5 board bench

My sister recently bought a used table on Craigslist but it only came with 3 chairs so she asked me to make her one.  Her only request was that it be 17″ tall and flat black to match the other chairs.  I did some looking around on the web and found the traditional 5 board bench design.  I also found Charles Neil’s video on YouTube and figured that I could build a variation on that design.  It also gave me an excuse to try out the new bandsaw. You can download a free sketchup file of this project in the downloads section of this site and you can also watch a video of me building it here:

I started by cutting the legs to rough length using my little cordless saw.  I don’t feel safe cutting

pieces that long on my contractor table saw.

I then cut them to length and width on the tablesaw.

Here are all the pieces cut to size.  There is 1 extra 1×6 in this picture because I was originally

going to put a support shelf under the seat but the legs are slightly bowed and it didn’t match
up when I cut the shelf straight so I decided not to use it.

I used 1 of the side aprons to mark the notches on the legs.

This notch will be cut out and the side apron will rest in it.

I then marked in 3″ on the other end of the board for the width of the bottom leg.

I marked the center of the board at 5″ to drill a hole later.

I then glued the aprons to the top pieces.

I drilled out a 1 1/4″ hole at that 5″  mark.  It is recommended that you drill a hole rather than just cut a “V” there so that the board doesn’t split later on.

I then drew a line from each side of the hole down to the 3″ mark that I made earlier.

An d cut the shape out on the bandsaw.  You could just as easily made these cuts with a jigsaw.

The legs are slightly bowed so I marked them to have the rounded side facing out.

I used the scrap pieces from the legs to make some blocks to glue in later.

I used my little sanding wheel on the drill press to smooth the inside of the legs.  I found this one at

Lowes for under $10.

I then rounded over all the sides not getting glued to something else.

I sanded everything before assembly.  I also only sanded it to 120 because I am going to paint it.

I clamped it up to see what it was going to look like.

I used a scrap piece of 2×4 as a spacer for the ends.

I glued the legs to the top/apron pieces and then made sure that they were square before clamping them up.

Here are those block that I cut out earlier.

I took it out back and spray painted it flat black.

 I sanded the whole thing with 220 to smooth it out and also gave it some distressing to make it

look a little older.  I’m not a big fan of over distressed projects so I tried to keep a
semi-light touch.

This was my first time using satin poly.  I’ve only used gloss up to this point.

I ended up putting 4 coats on the top and aprons and 3 coats on everything else including the underneath.  I also put some felt feet on it but forgot to take pictures.

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