Step-by-step: How to build an arbor with a bench

Detailed instructions for a classic combination

Arbor Bench Diagram

What you'll need

 

  • Four 10' 4 x 4 posts
  • Two 8' 2 x 6 beams
  • One 12' 2 x 6 for three cross braces
  • One 8' 2 x 6 for two seat supports and three back supports
  • Two 8' 2 x 4s for four bench legs, back rail, and lattice support
  • One 12' 2 x 8 for three seat planks
  • One 8' 1 x 4 for two backrests
  • One 4' 1 x 6 for two armrests
  • Twelve 6' 2 x 2s for four verticals and eight slats
  • One 4' x 4' lattice sheet, cut to 3' x 4'
  • Four decorative corner braces
  • 1⁄4" galvanized carriage bolts with nuts and washers: four at 31⁄2", eight at 5", four at 6"
  • Twelve 1⁄4" x 4" galvanized lag screws with washers
  • 11⁄4" and 3" decking or stainless-steel screws
  • Exterior stain and sealer or primer and paint
 Full story

Arbor Bench Notch Beams

Notch for beams

Cut 5½-inch-long by 1½-inch-deep notches in the tops of the posts. Lay out the site and dig holes for posts that form a rectangle 5 feet by 4 feet. Adjust the heights of the posts so the shoulders of the notches are level with each other. Tamp the soil or temporarily brace the posts in position.

Cut the ends of the 2 by 6 beams to a decorative profile. Seat the beams in the post notches and center them from side to side. Bolt the beams to the posts with two 5-inch carriage bolts at each joint.

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Arbor Bench Cross Braces

Add cross braces

Cut the cross braces to length as shown in the diagram and attach them to the posts by drilling holes and driving lag screws. Two cross braces attach to the tops of the posts; the third (longer) one goes on the end of the arbor opposite the bench, positioned 12 inches above the ground.

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Arbor Bench Seat Supports

Install seat supports

Cut the seat supports and back supports to length.

Position each seat support beside a post with the top of the support 16½ inches above the ground and one end flush with the outside of the post. Drill a single ¼-inch hole through the post and the support, then bolt them together with a 6-inch carriage bolt. Adjust the support so it is level. Drill a ¼-inch hole and add a second carriage bolt.

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Arbor Bench Legs

Install the legs

Bolt the front legs to the outside of the seat supports with 3½-inch carriage bolts, placing the legs 2 inches back from the front edges of the seat supports. Check that the legs are at least fairly plumb. Attach the back legs to the post with 3-inch screws.

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Arbor Bench Seat

Add the seat

Cut the 2 by 8 into three 41-inch planks for the seat. Set the planks in place on the seat supports so that the back edge of the seat is flush with the outside of the posts.

Leave a slight gap between the planks for drainage. Attach the planks with 3-inch screws. Round the corners with a jigsaw, then use a router with a ½-inch roundover bit to round off the edges.

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Arbor Bench Back Supports

Attach back supports

Cut the 18-inch-long back supports so they taper from 5½ inches at the bottom to 2 inches at the top.

Align the back edge of the supports with the back of the seat and attach the supports to the post by drilling pilot holes and driving 3-inch screws. Attach the center back support by driving screws up through the seat from underneath.

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Arbor Bench Backrests

Add the backrests

Cut the back rail and backrests to length. Attach the back rail to the top of the back supports with 3-inch screws. (It will stick out behind the outside of the posts.) Screw the top backrest flush with the top ends of the back supports.

Attach the second backrest between the top backrest and the seat.

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Arbor Bench Armrests

Install the armrests

Cut the armrests to length and round their front corners with a jigsaw.

Use a router equipped with a 3⁄8-inch roundover bit to round the edges, then sand any rough edges. Attach the armrests to the tops of the legs with 3-inch screws, aligning the inside edges of the armrests with the inside faces of the front legs.

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Arbor Bench Lattice

Add lattice and final pieces

Cut the lattice supports to fit snugly between the posts behind the bench. Attach by drilling angled pilot holes and driving 3-inch screws. Cut the lattice panel to fit, and attach by driving 1¼-inch screws into the posts and supports.

Use a power miter saw or a circular saw to cut the ends of the 2 by 2 verticals and slats at a decorative angle. Using 3-inch screws, fasten the four verticals in place inside the cross braces on the side opposite the bench. Screw the eight slats on top of the beams. Screw the decorative corner braces in place. Finish the arbor with stain, or apply primer and paint.

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Arbor with Bench

Shady arbor bench

Imagine sipping your tea or wine in the dappled light of your own backyard arbor bench, your favorite vine overhead. 

Building a bench and arbor combo is in some ways less complicated than building a standalone bench. The arbor provides the structure, and the bench comes along for the ride with no complex angles or fancy joinery.

See how to make it

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