Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

October 11, 2017

DIY 2x4 Wood Outdoor Bench with Welded H Legs

Easy DIY Wood Outdoor Bench with Welded Legs
DIY Welded Bench
2x4 Bench with DIY Welded Base

This is an unusual DIY furniture project because you'll actually have to come back next year to see the real "after".  I've joked about being the slooooowest amateur decorator and DIYer out there, but this project should fully and officially solidify that title for me. 

Okay, technically this DIY outdoor wood bench - with its awesome welded H legs - is finished.  You can sit on it, place a drink on it, stand up and salsa dance on it (it's sturdy enough, I promise), but I left the wood bare because I want to see how it weathers.  That means that, right now, it's just plain, unfinished cedar, but hopefully next spring it will be a beautiful, driftwood-eqsue grey!

2x4 Projects Ideas

This humble DIY bench - and its long, greying process - is actually serving an important purpose.  One that might save us from making a mistake that costs tens of thousands of dollars.  

Remember how I shared my tentative plans for the lakehouse exterior?  Next spring we plan to replace our mismatched pine and vinyl siding with DIY cedar wood siding, which we hope will grey beautifully for that perfect, coastal vibe.  After spotting a copper-painted metal roof in town, I'm kind of envisioning that paired with the driftwood-grey wood siding but it's such a huge, scary, expensive decision!  I'm so nervous about DIYing our own siding - that feels major - and buying a new metal roof is such a huge expense.  The wood we can always paint, so I'm slightly less nervous about that decision (although doing our own siding still feels intimidating!), but the copper roof we'd be stuck with forever.  I need something to help me make up my mind - a visual aid.

We decided to make this simple bench, with an untreated cedar wood top and welded H legs (painted the same copper hue we painted our DIY welded fire pit) as a trial run.  We're also building a new front step with the same idea, so we'll have two pieces of outdoor furniture I'll see every day, from now until spring, with untreated cedar paired with copper, so I can assess whether I actually like the wood once it's weathered plus I can make sure I'm committed enough to copper to sign up for a 50 year roof!

Easy DIY Outdoor Bench

We needed a new front step anyway and a bench will be such a practical piece.  We're still working on that front step, but here's how we made this modern welded bench! 

Note: if you're not into welding, you can also just buy similar H-legs (or these super chunky X-base legs) and add your own DIY top!  These welded legs, at only $80 or so, are the least expensive ones I've seen.  I also linked some similar benches you can straight up buy, at the bottom of this post.
 
Supplies:

For the base we used 3" wide steel flat bar, which was something new for us because we almost always work with square metal tubing.  (You know you're an avid DIYer when you have "go-to" metal, haha). 

Welded Projects
Welding DIY

For the top, we actually used home improvement store lumber, which we never use for furniture.  It's intended for building, so it's really not the right quality for furniture and it irks me when I see people use plywood with biscuits or really warped lumber for DIY home decor projects.  Don't expect quality furniture from builder's grade wood!  We always head to a lumber yard with materials designed for woodworkers - that's where I score my fancy walnut plywood too.  But for this project, we wanted to keep costs down and try using the kind of wood we'd actually use for the siding, so we headed to a home improvement store and reluctantly bought some 2x4's.


Before we built the wood top, though, we made the welded metal legs for the base.  We toyed with some different designs, but ultimately we liked this look:

Easy DIY Wood Outdoor Bench with Welded Legs

To make that H leg, we had to make some cuts and cut out two pairs of pieces for each leg.  To do that, we measured out the lengths and cut them using a 4.5" angle grinder with some cutting disks.

DIY Welded Legs
How to Use a Grinder
Grinding Metal

With the four pieces cut out (two shorter and two longer), we used welding magnets to hold together the leg shape.

DIY Welded Bench Base

We use these magnets for every welding project, they are seriously handy!

Using Welding Magnets
Where to buy welding supplies

To hold the rectangular H leg together, Hubby started by tack welding the shape (which is the same principle as basting stitches for sewing - you just want to hold everything together and double check for squareness, etc., before committing to an actual weld). 

Welding a Bench

To remove any slag, Hubby used a wire brush and gave it a brisk brushing. 

Welding DIY

Here's a peek at the tack weld:

Tack Welding

When we were sure it was perfect, he doubled back and welded all of the joints for good.  At this point, we had to call in the Project Inspector, Szuka.  She'll assess the quality and smell of our welds, indicating whether the project is a pass or fail. 


Welded Bench Tutorial

And, voila! Here's a look at one of the finished bench legs.  After using a flapper disk on the grinder to remove any rogue lumps or bumps (welding splatter), it was ready for some tabs.

How to Weld Bench Legs


To attach the welded legs to the wood top, we affixed some tabs because we didn't have a drill bit to drill through the flat bar because it's so thick.  So we welded on some tabs that we could drill through.


One tip: we originally only did tabs on one side of the metal but then added a second set on the other side to keep the legs straighter and add strength.  This bench is heavy!


For the paint, I chose the same copper spray paint we used for the fire pit - which is a great shade of copper.  For this application, we definitely don't need a high heat paint, but we both liked that the two outdoor pieces would match (Rust-Oleum makes a other copper paint but it's a different shade).  Plus it means we can just keep one can of paint on hand to touch up the fire pit, bench, and step as needed.

Rust-Oleum High Heat Copper Paint

To build the top, all we did was cut our 2x4's to the same length and then sanded rough spots and the edges to create a smooth surface.  We edge glued the boards together for a little extra strength and to help hold them in position. 

I could get used to this natural wood thing because skipping the staining and clear coating meant this project was done days faster.  That is my kinda DIY!!!

2x4 Outdood Bench DIY
DIY Wood Bench Tutorial

All we have to do now is let nature takes its course and beautifully weather this wood for us...  This will give me something to look forward to as I wait out the cold winter ahead. 

DIY Outdoor Bench
Outdoor Bench Project

Right now the bench has found a home on the deck of our guest house - and I love the copper legs paired with my Eames chairs and the turquoise front door/window trim.  Such a pretty color palette of autumnal hues and my perennial favorite: turquoise!

Small Cabin Porch
DIY Rustic Modern Bench
DIY Welded Furniture Legs

Love the look but definitely not into the DIY?  No worries!  I know not everyone can whip up some welded furniture in their backyard.  Here are a couple of similar options you can purchase: this very similar bench with reclaimed wood top and welded metal H legs from Etsy and this rustic live edge bench with welded legs.   

P.S. If you loved watching this welded bench come together (I like the show, How it's Made, so I'm fascinated by projects even when they're out of our reach just because the assembly process is so mesmerizing), check out our other welding projects:

Walnut Bed with Welded Legs (and check out the Welded Headboard Refresh too!)

DIY Welded Bed with Walnut Base

Welded Desk with Glossy Pre-Fab Pine Top

DIY Welded Desk

Welded Fire Pit

DIY Welded Fire Pit
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10 comments

  1. Dear Tanya,
    Thank you for this great post ! Well written and beautifully photographed to boot :)
    It is a really good idea to trial-test important decisions, and your project was though-out and carried-out beautifully !

    I do admire you and your husband's creativity, skills and grit :) My husband and I are in the same age-group than you guys and I kinda envy your attitude towards DIY and the scale of the projects you undertake (though admittedly we live in a new-built city-center condo - so there's so much we can/are allowed to do).

    Keep on the good work and the good life like side :) Reading your posts is always a treat !
    Emma from Berlin

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    1. Hi Emma,
      It's so interesting to hear from a reader from Berlin! I'm so happy to hear you liked this post. Like you, I just enjoy seeing what people make and build, even if it's not something I can make right now. I have to admit that a newly built condo in downtown Berlin sounds amazing. Not having to worry about renos and just enjoying life has its perks. Some days I wish we had built new or purchased new construction, but other days I enjoy seeing the progress. Thanks so much for taking time to leave me such a sweet comment, you made my day :)

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  2. Love it! I would also love some H-legs for a front hall bench I want to make from a reclaimed beam. If I only had a welder! :P

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    1. I linked to some etsy shops selling them! And similar metal leg ideas. You could also try putting a want ad on kijiji. I bet a high school student taking welding would love to earn some cash. I had a friend who took welding and she made all kinds of things for people in high school. I'd offer to make you some but o think the shipping with Canada post would be a million bucks lol.

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  3. I believe that you could paint the metal roof down the line too. I can't see ever getting sick of a copper roof though.

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    1. I think cooper will be a nice neutral choice because it will blend into nature but I hadn't thought about painting it! I had guessed they were powder coated/heat treated or something so now I am definitely going to ask that when we get some quotes. Thanks for that idea!

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  4. Nice bench! And great idea to test the wood. You may want to leave it out rather than protected under the covered porch to complete your test, if you are planning to do your siding in a year. My husband used reverse board and batten on his workshop about a year and half ago (um, maybe it's been 2yrs) and wanted to leave it to weather naturally. He didn't want the maintenance of painting or staining. His isn't cedar however, so it may silver faster. He used raw barn board- new though, not reclaimed, so I'm not sure which species. But his siding is just now starting to colour but very little. It takes much longer to grey than I'd thought.
    People assume that untreated wood rots quickly- it will break down over time but holds up much longer than expected (if you think about how many years unpainted barns remain). Painted exterior wood actually will rot faster, the paint won't expand with temperature like the wood does, causing cracking that lets moisture seep into the wood but then the water cannot evaporate as readily as unpainted and allows the wood to remain wet too long. It needs to be painted every year to mend the cracked paint from seasonal temperature changes. Yuck! I prefer stain if I'm treating exterior wood, maintenance is still needed but not as often.
    I enjoy the welding posts, but I do weld, too. Where did your hubby learn to weld? I learned at my last job, just mig tho, no tig or arc. Do you use straight CO2 or an argon mix? (I'm gonna guess CO2- it's good for penetration when welding that heavy bar and less pricey but does create more spatter.) But I'm just a hack so it's just a guess- I've welded with straight and different argon mixes but I like welding with just CO2.
    Fun project, it turned out well.

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    1. Flux cord wire is what we have. I love that you weld! I'm slowly learning but for blog photos I always show hubby because goodness knows I am probably doing everything wrong haha.

      He learned in school (high school and college). The welder is mine, he married well ;)

      Interesting about the untreated wood. I know hubby's dad has it for siding so I knew it lasts awhile but didn't even think about the ramifications of painted wood. That makes so much sense though.

      I am hoping it doesn't take too long to grey... I'll have to look into barn wood. I'm curious now. Hubby and his dad were team cedar, I think because I showed them really light grey examples and this will appparently get to that silvery hue.

      My only worry is that part of the siding is hidden in the car port. I wonder if that won't grey at all? I would be curious to know when yours starts to really silver.

      I'll have to move the bench out, like you said. It's pretty exposed there, it gets soaked and full sun but I'll move it around and try to maximize that exposure. Gosh it's so heavy though. I died just getting it there from the garage.

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  5. What a beautiful and useful item to make while also using it as a test case. Consider taking a photo every 4wks or so, to document the pace of weathering. This will be fun to see how it turned out next spring.
    SH

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    1. That is a very cool idea! That would be neat information for others to have too. Okay, I'll try to remember that - although I'll definitely be crabby when I have to trudge through the snow, lol.

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