How to find a beautiful bench in the dumpster:
By popular request… that’s not true. Although actually it is the most requested thing on this site. But also the only requested thing on this site. In all honesty I’m writing this for the unfortunately named, Coop Poop.
The hardest thing may be finding the pallets. Every time I see a shop or restaurant being overhauled with a skip outside (US: Dumpster!) then I pull over and ask if they wouldn’t mind if I had a look. Often they’ll be full of pallets and old bits of timber and so far the owners are more than happy for me to empty their skip for free.
Let’s assume we have pallets. Second hardest (most tedious) thing is deconstructing them. Get your claw hammer, a mallet may help and something for a lever – crowbar, chisel, flat-headed screwdriver. Start hitting, prying and pulling. Drink plenty of Gin and Tonic to stay motivated.
So, from all the scrap wood your aim is to have this (pallets unfortunately do not come in pretty colours – but I’ll leave the painting to you):
- Two horizontal beams, preferably 2″x4″ or there abouts – these are 76″ in length but this can be varied based on what wood you have.
- Four legs, preferably 4″x4″ because they need to be sturdy to prevent wobble – these are 16″ in length but this can vary depending on how high you want your bench.
- Two inside rims, preferably 2″x1″ – these need to be cut 8″ less that the horizontal beams, mine are 68″.
- Two end plates, any planks from the pallets – these need to be the width of your slats plus the width of your two beams (mine are 15″ + 2″ + 2″ = 19″)
- Slats, any planks from the pallets but enough to fill the length of your horizontal beams – you can just lay them out until you have enough – mine are cut at 15″.
- I stained the wood with store bought wood preserver intended for outside use (this and some wood screws were my only costs).
1. Mount the Inside Rims
The inside rims need to be screwed to the horizontal beams. They sit a slat depth down and a leg width in. Easy get this right with the leg and the slat:
It’s worth checking the inside rail remains level as you screw along the length. Just slide the slat along to check. The inside rail will support the slats.
Should look like this when finished:
2. Cut and Mount the Legs.
This is the one vaguely complicated bit, but it’s worth doing right to get a secure leg. It may require some additional Gin and Tonic.
Measure from the base of the horizontal beam to the top of the inside rail:
Measure the width of the horizontal beam:
Transfer this information onto the top of end of one of the legs. You can use the saw edge to get a definite right angle:
Cut along the lines so your leg looks like this:
Match leg to the horizontal beam. Make sure the leg is flush to the front and to the side and screw together. Preferably from the back to the front to hide the screws from view (depends on the length of your screws):
Repeat the process on all the legs and place the beams parallel to each other:
3. The End Plates.
Ensure the horizontal beams are parallel and the correct distance apart using a couple of your slats:
It’s worth pre-screwing the end plates unless you have a helper to hold them in place while you screw
Make sure legs are straight when you screw in the end slats:
4. The Slats
Your bench is now ready for slat fitting and fun colour rearranging (depending on the number of Gin and Tonics consumed).
Alternatively I will make you one for $300 – have another Gin and Tonic and then place an order.
The gallery below gives a photo breakdown of the whole procedure: