DIY Bench

I recently went into therapy to overcome my bench press-a-phobia (not really, I’ve never been to therapy, though clearly it couldn’t hurt.) Now that I am actually working on the said lift, I found that I need a bench. Imagine that. As I have stated before, I live in a small town, and if your equipment cannot be procured at WalMart, the only other option is the internet. Ordering heavy fitness equipment on the internet means huge shipping prices. Luckily, I inherited my “I can make that out of junk I found in the garage” personality trait from my dad, so I made myself a bench from junk I (mostly) found in the garage.

Materials & Equipment:
2 – 2″x6″ boards, 17″ long
2 – 2″x6″ boards, 15″ long
1 – 48″ x 10″ x 1″ piece of rough lumber
4 – sets of four 2″ corner braces with screws
8 – 2″ galvanized deck screws
8 – 3″ galvanized deck screws
Power drill
Power saw (circular or bench) if your wood is not pre-cut. Hand saw if you have the time and energy.

Step 1: find the center width-wise of all the boards. Mark with a Sharpie or marker.

Now measure in 10″ from the outside on both ends and mark the spot.

Step 2: Set one of the 15″ boards on end. Line up the center marks of both boards, and line up the edge of the 15″ board with the mark you made at 10″.

Step 3: Set four of the corner braces against the 15″ board as shown (two on each side, of course.)

Mark the holes of the braces with a Sharpie. Scribble a quick “R” (for right) or “X” on the right side of the board so you don’t have to guesstimate which side is which later.

Step 4: Drill pilot holes on the spots you marked for the holes in the braces. If you don’t have a drill bit (which I didn’t) you can use a longer screw, which will work just fine.

DO NOT SKIP THE PILOT HOLE STEP! Trust me, your life will be much easier if you do this.

Step 5: Attach the corner braces to the rough lumber board and the 15″ boards. If you drilled the pilot holes and marked the right side of the board this will not be too hard.

If you didn’t do those two things you will probably end up sweating a little extra, saying some choice words as the boards tip over, the screws go in crooked, and you had to take one of the braces off after you discovered you put the left side of the board where the right side should be. I’m just sayin…

Repeat Steps 2-5 for the other leg of the bench. (ie, the other 15″ board.)

Step 6: find the center width and length of the 17″ boards and the center width and length of the bottom of the 15″ boards. Mark with a Sharpie. (Note: MEASURE all the boards. Even thought they should be 5.5 inches wide, does not mean they actually will be.)

Step 7: Lay the 17″ board flat on the ground. Set the bench upright on top of the 17″ boards. Line up the center marks of the 15″ boards and the 17″ boards. Put the braces where you want them. Mark the placement of the brace holes with a Sharpie. Drill pilot holes and attach the braces with screws.

Step 8: On the top of the bench measure in from the end to find the center of the 15″ board (also known as the leg.) If you measured everything correctly, this should be 10.75″. Also mark the width of the 15″ board (which will be 5.5″, but make sure the mark is shorter, more like 4.5-5 inches.)

Step 9: Screw four 2″ galvanized deck screws along the mark you made, through the top of the bench and vertically into the end of the 15″ board.

Flip the bench over and repeat Steps 8-9 on the bottom of the feet (the 17″ boards), only use 3″ galvanized deck screws to account for the thicker boards.

And there you have it. Your very own bench.

Final dimensions: 48″ long, 17″ wide (feet), 9.5″ wide (top of bench) and 17.5″ high.

Total cost: Under $10. The braces were $2 for a four pack (including screws), I’m not sure how much the deck screws were as I had them on hand (probably under $4), and the lumber was scrap lumber and it was free.

Prefabricated bench: $175 plus $45 shipping.

Disclaimer: OK, there are several obvious things that I feel I need to point out here:

  1. I am aware that wooden weightlifting equipment may not be the safest thing. However, I weigh 155 pounds and I bench about 100 pounds max. I am not in any danger of breaking this baby. I climbed on top, stood in the middle on the weakest point and jumped up and down vigorously. It’s rock solid. If you are a 200+ pound dude and you are benching 400 pounds, man up and buy a freaking steel bench. Duh.
  2. This bench could still be fabricated from wood and be made even stronger by using a thicker board for the top of the bench, or using a 48″ long 2 x 6 for the top and attaching the rough lumber board to that. You could also add Y braces to the legs for extra strength.
  3. DO NOT USE CERAMIC SCREWS. They break. I speak from experience.
  4. A 2″x6″ board is not actually 2″ x 6″, it is 1.5″ x 5.5″. Ditto for 10″ boards, they are actually 9.5″. I don’t know why. It doesn’t make sense, but that is the way the lumber mafia chooses to roll. Just be aware of it for calculation purposes.

3 thoughts on “DIY Bench

  1. Pingback: DIY Bench « Go Tami Go

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