Garden arbor bench

Create a shady mini retreat in your backyard. Get our how-to

Peter O. Whiteley

You can add a little romance to your garden with this handsome arbor bench. The freestanding 60-inch-wide, 30-inch-deep, 86-inch-high structure has a number of subtle features that add to its appearance, strength, and comfort.

• No nails or screws show.

• Copper-pipe end caps mask countersunk carriage bolts.

• A deep seat and angled backrest stiffen the structure while providing comfort.

• Lattice side panels and overhead trellis train and support vines.

A person with average woodworking skills can build the project in a weekend. You can put it together in a workshop, then carry it assembled (with a few sturdy helpers) to its final destination. However, since it's built in four main sections, it can also be broken down and reassembled on site.

The structure is broad and stable enough to stand on its own, but for a more permanent installation, you can anchor it to concrete footings with metal brackets embedded in them.

We built the bench with standard-dimension select-heart redwood, but you could substitute cedar, fir, or pressure-treated lumber; similarly, you could use a sturdy plastic lattice instead of redwood.

TIME: About 2 days

COST: About $300


• Lumber
• 4-by-4s: four 8-foot lengths
• 2-by-4s: one 8-foot length, four 10-foot lengths
• 1-by-1s: eight 8-foot lengths (or rip down from two 8-foot lengths of 1-by-6)
• 2-by-6s: six 8-foot lengths, two 10-foot lengths
• Two 2- by 8-foot redwood lattice panels
• 3 1/2-inch deck screws
• 2-inch galvanized finishing nails
• Six 2-by-4 joist hangers (with nails)
• 6 feet of undermount deck fastening brackets
• 30 1 1/4-inch deck screws (for seat)
• A dozen 21/2-inch screws
• Eight 5 1/2- by 3/8-inch carriage bolts
• Eight 3/8-inch washers
• 16 3/8-inch nuts
• Sandpaper
• Clear wood sealer
• Cotton rags
• 16 1-inch copper-pipe end caps


Most of the project requires basic woodworking tools--a circular saw, a saber saw, an electric drill, a hammer, and a nail set. You'll need to rip a few boards into smaller sizes; you can use a table saw or ask the lumberyard to do it. You'll also need:

• Tape measure
• Pencil
• Combination square
• Compass
• C-clamps or adjustable clamps
• Framing square
• 15/16-inch paddle bit
• Extra-long 1/2-inch drill bit
• Socket wrench set
• Ladder
• A small pump sprayer (about $10) to apply wood sealer (optional)
• Pipe clamps

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