See how we used a reclaimed beadboard door to build a garden bench and matching table.
- circular saw
- table saw
- tape measure
- router and 1/2″ straight bit
- drill/impact driver
- 1-1/2″ Forstner bit
- orbital sander
- 15-gauge nail gun
- pull saw
- strap and ratchet clamps
- (1) 3′ x 6′ reclaimed barn or slat-style door
- 8′ 2×2 wood square stock
- 4) 6″ metal L brackets
- 25′ scrap 1×4
- (1) scrap piece of plywood
- 1/2″ wood screws
- 2″ 15-gauge finish nails
- wood glue
- construction adhesive
- shellac based primer
- exterior semi-gloss paint
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cut the Joints
To make the mortise-and-tenon joints, use a router table with a 1/2″ square bit to form each.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Add Shelf Piece
Cut two pieces of plywood to fit in the lower shelf. Install the plywood making sure it fits flush.
Square and Fasten
Double check to make sure the base is still in square. Use 2″ 15-gauge finish nails at each joint.
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.
Note: we also opened up the 90-degree brackets to 100 degrees to give the back a more comfortable slant.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Remember: Some of the charm of upcycled materials comes from its imperfections.