Three Dollar Bench

Sometimes you don’t have to spend very much money on a project. I wanted a bench to go at the end of our bed at the beach house – and I made this for $3.

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Here is the original bench I bought from Goodwill Outlet. It’s not radically different than the final product, but I didn’t like the style of the top.

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Big rounded edges and no overhang – yuck. I’m not very fond of the 80’s look, and I guess the previous owner wasn’t either.

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$3 at Goodwill.

I have bought a number of larger pieces of furniture at thrift stores just for the lumber. Along with this bench, I also saw a 3′ x 6′ pine table top there for $3 – about 20 cents a square foot for lumber. Home Depot charges $3 a square foot for not so great boards.

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I checked, you can still buy this same bench at Target & Walmart for about $50. I guess people who still like beige walls and white carpet need furniture too.

It was too big for the foot of the bed. I wanted it less than 12″ wide and 36″ long.

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Here’s a look at the construction. It was actually made well, so I didn’t change anything.

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I tore it all apart, and ripped the top down to about a foot wide.

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I cut the sides off to bring it down to 3 feet – and I said goodbye to the big, rounded edges.

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I sanded everything down with my 5″ disc sander: 60 grit, then 80 grit, then 120 grit. It took about 30 minutes to take the finish off and smooth it out. I purposefully left some sanding marks to give it a more rustic look.

I cut the apron pieces down to the new sizes and laid everything out. I marked where each piece went while they were in place.

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I added a few pocket holes for assembly. I decided to attach the aprons to the legs for extra stability. It probably wasn’t needed, but I like making sure it will be robust.

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The Kreg pocket hole jig works really well. It’s definitely been worth the $30 I paid for it a few years ago. I did not buy their $25 clamp. Instead I bought basically the same one from Harbor Freight for $5. I don’t mind spending money for tools, but not more than I need to.

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Here is the bench, reassembled…

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First I stained it with a darker color.

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Then I came back with a lighter color to give it some variation. I do this on most things I finish – it gives the surfaces more depth and interest.

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These are the two stains I used, but I think any light & dark combination would work fine.

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Here it is at the foot of the bed. I didn’t want it to match, but to compliment the bed color.


Time and Money

  • $3 plus materials
  • About 4 hours



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