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!
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!
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.
- 4.5″ Angle Grinder
- Grinding Disk
- Flapper Disk
- Cutting Disk
- Steel Flat Bar (we used 3″ width)
- Welding Magnets
- Steel Step Drill Bit
- Flux Core Wire Feed Welder
- Rust-Oleum Spray Paint Copper
- Untreated cedar 2×4’s, two 8′ lengths
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).
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
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:
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.
With the four pieces cut out (two shorter and two longer), we used welding magnets to hold together the leg shape.
We use these magnets for every welding project, they are seriously handy!
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).
To remove any slag, Hubby used a wire brush and gave it a brisk brushing.
Here’s a peek at the tack weld:
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.
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.
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.
To build the top, all we did was cut our 2×4’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!!!
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.
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!
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: