Introduction

Photo by: Dylan Eastman

Dylan Eastman

Start With a Plan

Because reclaimed materials are unique and not matched with store bought items, every cut must be planned ahead to ensure the project can be completed as designed. Because this door was only 36" wide, we knew one center cut down the middle could make a cute 18" deep porch bench.

Step 1

Photo by: Dylan Eastman

Dylan Eastman

Check for Old Hardware

We cut our door in half so we an 18" piece for the seat and an 18" piece for the back. Always be careful when cutting any reclaimed materials as nails are a hidden danger. If you have a metal detector, go over every piece of wood to make sure there aren’t any hidden pieces of hardware. 

Step 2

Photo by: Dylan Eastman

Dylan Eastman

Square It Up

Trim the end to make sure it is perfectly square. Mark it with a square and then use a circular saw to clean up the edge.

Step 3

Cut Bench Width

In this case, we wanted a 60" bench to fit a specific spot. Use a square to mark the width of each piece of your bench. Use a circular saw to complete the cut. 

Step 4

Photo by: Dylan Eastman

Dylan Eastman

Start Working on the Base Frame

We wanted the base construction to have a period feel like the top and to feature a form of mortise and tenon joints. Since this project was all about upcycling materials, we chose to use scrap 1x and glue it together. Then the pieces were all cut to a 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" square stock size.

Step 5

Photo by: Dylan Eastman

Dylan Eastman

Build the Base Frame

The base is constructed of two mortised rectangles inlet 1-5/8" into four legs. The top one holds the seat and the lower one becomes a shelf. Cut the 1-1/2" square stock to: four 58-3/4" pieces and five 16-1/4" pieces.

Step 6

Photo by: Dylan Eastman

Dylan Eastman

Cut the Joints

To make the mortise-and-tenon joints, use a router table with a 1/2" square bit to form each.

Step 7

Photo by: Dylan Eastman

Dylan Eastman

Continue Cut Joints for Frame

The 1/2" bit will make a 1/2" wide tenon on the four long pieces and a 1/2" wide mortise on four of the short pieces. 

Step 8

Photo by: Dylan Eastman

Dylan Eastman

Cut Cross Pieces

To help reinforce the middle of the lower shelf, notch 3/4" x 1-1/2" out of each end of the last 16-1/4" piece. Make a corresponding notch on the middle of two of the 58-3/4" pieces. 

Step 9

Photo by: Dylan Eastman

Dylan Eastman

Assemble Lower Frame

To the hold the lower shelf, cut scrap 1x into 3/4" square stock and attach with wood glue and 15-gauge finish nails. Again using some scrap 1/2" plywood for the shelf, we used a piece as a spacer for the 3/4" ledger to ensure proper alignment.

Step 10

Photo by: Dylan Eastman

Dylan Eastman

Make Legs

For the legs, cut four 2"x2" pieces to 16". Then mark two 1-1/2" tall x 1-5/8" deep pockets: one 4" from the bottom and one flush with the top on each leg.

Step 11

Cut Notches

Use a 1-1/2" Forstner bit to remove the largest portion of the pocket. Then use a chisel to finish it off. On the top pockets, you can also use a pull saw for a large portion of the cut and finish with a chisel.

Step 12

Assemble Base Frame

Loosely assemble all the pieces and check for fit. Use wood glue on all joints. Tighten the assembly with a rubber mallet and strap clamp.

Step 13

Add Shelf Piece

Cut two pieces of plywood to fit in the lower shelf. Install the plywood making sure it fits flush.

Step 14

Square and Fasten

Double check to make sure the base is still in square. Use 2" 15-gauge finish nails at each joint.

Step 15

Photo by: Dylan Eastman

Dylan Eastman

Add L-Brackets to Seat

To assemble the top seat and back, start by trimming back any cross braces that interfere with the seat sitting flush on the base.

Remove the remaining cross braces and route the bottom of them to conceal the 90-degree metal L-brackets. Then notch the back of the seat for the brackets. Reinstall the screws through the holes in the brackets and into the seat. 

Pro Tip

Note: we also opened up the 90-degree brackets to 100 degrees to give the back a more comfortable slant.

Step 16

Photo by: Dylan Eastman

Dylan Eastman

Cut Braces for Seat Back

Flip the seat over and mark the back cross braces for the bracket location so a channel can be routed in. We cut new braces for the back since the old ones did not line up.

Step 17

Pre-drill and Attach Seat and Back

Using a drill and 1/8" bit, drill pilot holes for the screw locations in the back cross braces. Then mount the cross braces to the seat back using wood screws.

Step 18

Attach Seat to Base Frame

Test fit the finished seat on the base by checking for a flush and tight fit. Attach the seat to the base using construction adhesive and 2" 15- gauge finish nails 6" on-center around the perimeter.

Step 19

Prime, Paint and Finish

Putty and sand the base before applying a shellac based primer. Once the primer is dry, sand with 120 girt sandpaper before applying two coats of semi-gloss exterior paint.

Step 20

See What Else You Can Make From the Leftovers

Because we had some remaining pieces of the original beadboard door, we also built these matching end tables to complement the bench. By using a reclaimed door and traditional building techniques, this upcycled exterior bench has a vibe totally different than a store bought item. Not only was is custom sized for this space, it also was less costly than finished furniture.

Pro Tip

Remember: Some of the charm of upcycled materials comes from its imperfections.