Our entryway was really calling for some character. We added the board and batten and light fixture, next on the list was a bench big enough for this long-ish space. I really loved all the church pews that were popping up in my Pinterest feed, but after watching craigslist I decided that wasn’t going to happen for a couple of reasons. Our city wasn’t started until the 1950’s- meaning any church pews I found locally were seventies style and ugly, completely lacking any sort of detail or charm. So, if I wanted to find something cute, I would have to search out of town or pay a million dollars. Probably literally.
I searched for a DIY church pew on Pinterest, and whatdoyouknow?! THE PERFECT plans by Jamison at The Rogue Engineer came up. Well, nearly perfect. I loved the simple style of it, and after reviewing it, it involved mostly tools and materials I was familiar with and I felt like I could tackle it. I do have a great hubby that I can ask for guidance, but since he works long hours, most of these projects I try to tackle on my own. I’ve found that as I do more and more, they get easier and turn out even better. Practice may not make perfect, but it makes progress anyways. It reminds me of baking- you just have to follow the recipe and it will turn out more or less decent! These plans in particular are very detailed and well written, with plenty of pictures to guide you through.
I did alter the plans slightly to make the bench longer. Mine comes in about 6 feet long. I knew that I would need to come up with some sort of center support to accommodate the extra length, but I dove in and figured I’d deal with that part later.
(Click Image for Link to Plans)
You start by making all your cuts for the bench sides and use the Kreg Jig to attach them together. The plans come with a template that you adhere, and then you cut along the lines using your jigsaw. This was my first time using a jig saw and it was so easy and fun. I watched a couple of YouTube tutorials, and took my hubby’s advice to practice on some scrap wood before I tried the bench. He warned me to watch my hand pressure left to right- you want to keep the blade vertical as straight as possible so you don’t have a noticeable variation in the cut wood. Does that make sense? I did have some high/low spots when I was done, and wavy cut lines that I sanded out some, but it’s not super noticeable, and doesn’t bother me so I called it good.
After both sides are done, the rest came together rather easily. I was a little unsure about the 7 degree cuts on the 2×2’s, I was having a hard time picturing it, but I went for it and was able to fit it together so that it finally made sense. These allow for a slight recline in the bench’s seat back.
This is with the 2×2 supports, seat and back installed. And my cute little sidekick. Don’t be fooled, she’s not as sweet as she seems!
At this point I needed to determine my plan for center support. The original plans have a 2×2 support in the center identical to the end supports that you attach the seat and back to. I knew at the very least, I would need at least an extra 2×2 support to help with the added foot and a half of length. I installed the two center supports and we all took turns sitting on the bench to test it. Of course, with a 70 pound kiddo it was fine, but because we were using 1x’s on the seat the length made them feel pretty flimsy and they had a lot of give when I sat on it.
I contemplated removing them, and switching them out for 2×10’s, but after consulting my professional (the hubs), he suggested just building a middle leg first. I measured the length from the bottom of the seat to the ground, which was not perfectly even due to the recline of the seat, and was able to construct a third support leg similar to the sides. I then attached it with another 2×2 support on either side and screws.
This seemed to do the trick, and if feels nice and sturdy now. The trim pieces covers all of the 2×2’s and makes it look finished and pretty again.
Ready for sanding and staining
My go to colors are a blend of these:
Followed by several coats of poly to seal it. I always choose a satin poly finish. I couldn’t wait to get it in the house!
I dressed it up with a few pillows, and we bit the bullet and bought the area rug from my inspiration board also.
This room is so close to being finished I can taste it. I’ll be back soon to share the finishing touches, or if you can’t wait, you can see plenty more pics of this space on Instagram.