Our new house has a large, covered front porch, and we’ve known since we moved in that we wanted to make the space both beautiful and functional. We came up with the idea of building a pair of benches with a large plant stand attached to each. We already had a pair of plant stands (one built by my wife’s sister; the other built to match by me), so the basic aesthetic had already been decided.
Here’s the design I came up with for the benches. Click to activate rotation.
To switch things up a bit, I decided to used stacked panels for the sides of the box rather than ripping a 2×10 down to make single vertical panels. I also added a bit of visual interest with a narrow feature board in the bench top, flanking a 2×4 with a pair of 2x6s.
The first step of the build was to make the stacked panels for the sides of the boxes. Breaking down the 2x6s was relatively quick.
I sanded each piece to 80 grit to get rid of the bulk of the surface imperfections common to pressure treated pine from a big box retailer and then “jointed” each piece on my table saw, shaving off one side using my miter gauge to get a perpendicular edge and then running it against the rip fence to get the other side parallel. It worked decently, and after a long week up glue ups (I’m a bit short on longer clamps.) and a marathon sanding session, all eight panels were ready to go.
With the hard part done, I cut and sanded 4x4s for the corners, and then put the boxes together with a combination of pocket hole screws and Loctite PL Premium construction adhesive (a great, if messy, glue that holds up outside and works really well with pressure treated wood – I used the same stuff for the paneling).
Then it was time to start on the benches. I used 2x4s for aprons connected to a pair of 4×4 legs. I added a crosspiece to keep the whole thing rigid and then attached a second crosspiece to the side of each box with screws and glue to act as a ledge to hold up the edge of the bench top. The bench tops are held together with pocket hole screws and even more of that wonderful Loctite PL Premium.
The last step of the build was to put together the rims for the plant stand boxes. I cut 2x4s to size, mitering the ends at 45 degrees, and then glued them together using a set of shop-made corner clamps.
We wanted to be able to have the rim of a pot sit underneath and be hidden by the rim of the stand, so I didn’t attach the rims directly to the boxes. Instead, I glued four pegs to the bottom of each rim so that they fit snugly down inside each box. This allows us to put the rims on over a pot that is bigger than the opening in the rim. You can see the pegs if you look closely at the pictures of the finished benches below.
After a final session with the sander, I took the benches out to the front porch to see how they looked in their future home.
Build (Part 2)
Wait, what? Aren’t the benches built? Yep, but after seeing them on our front porch, we decided we wanted them a bit longer so that they filled the space better. The original benches were about 3 feet long. The new benches are 4 feet. Here’s the 3D model of the updated design. Click to activate rotation.
And here’s what they look like assembled.
I stained the benches using Olympic Elite deck stain, semi-solid wenge color. We really love this dark brown, which roughly matches the floors on the first floor of our house. We used the same color for our back deck, and we plan to use it for a mailbox post and a fence to screen off our air conditioner units in the near future.
After the stain dried, I sealed the visible faces of each with three coats of spar urethane. After the top coat cured, it was time for the big reveal. I’m really happy with how the benches turned out. They look great with the brightly-colored mums in the gallery below. I stained and sealed the smaller plant stands to match the benches, which you can also see in the gallery.
We love these benches. They make the front of our house look complete. If you’d like a set for your front porch, contact me!