Build A Leopold Bench Today So You Can Relax In Your Garden Tomorrow

This easy how-to build is actually quicker than you think. You'll be sitting on it in no time!

July 25, 2017
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When the famed conservationist and father of the modern environmental movement Aldo Leopold wanted a place to sit down, he built himself a simple bench with timeless appeal. The bench is easy to replicate, so it makes a good garden project for those with little carpentry experience.

After gathering up all the tools and materials, this project can be completed in two hours or less. If you start early enough in the day, you can be sitting on a bench in your garden before the sun burns the dew off the grass. The hardest part of this project will be deciding where to put the finished seat when you're done!

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Materials

Untreated pine, cedar, or oak
1 2-by-8 board, 10 feet long (for the legs)
1 2-by-6 board, 33 inches long (for the back)
1 2-by-10 board, 30 inches long (for the seat)

Hardware

Six ⅜-inch carriage bolts, 3½ inches long
Six ⅜-inch nuts
Six ⅜-inch washers
Twelve 3½-inch deck screws

Tools

Sawhorses or workbench
Measuring tape
Pencil
Speed square
C-clamps
Handsaw or circular saw
Battery drill
⅜-inch spade bit
9/16-inch wrench
⅛-inch drill bit
Phillips bit

measuring a board for cutting
Patrick Montero
Draw your lines

Lay the 2-by-8 board across the sawhorses. Measure along the length of the board, making pencil marks at 33, 66, 84, and 102 inches. Using the speed square, scribe a 60-degree angle at each of these marks; the board will be cut along these lines.

clamp and cut boards
Patrick Montero
Make your cuts

Secure the board to the sawhorses with C-clamps. Make each cut.

Related: How To Build A Simple Raised Bed

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boards laid out in ground
Patrick Montero
Lay out your pieces

You will now have four angled leg pieces plus the back and the seat.

drilling holes in bench
Patrick Montero
Assemble one side

Position one long angled board together with a short one. This will form one side of the bench. Clamp these together, making sure the feet are even. With a ⅜-inch spade bit, bore three holes though both pieces of wood about 2 inches apart, forming a triangle.

Related: How To Build The Ultimate Compost Bin

adding carriage bolts to bench
Patrick Montero
Bolt together. Assemble second side

Tap the carriage bolts through the holes, put washers and nuts in place, and tighten with a 9/16-inch wrench. Repeat with the other two angled boards, creating a mirror image of the first leg. The short boards will become the support for the seat and must be on the inside.

 
 
srewing together a bench
Patrick Montero
Add bench seat and back

Once the two upright sides are assembled, set the bench seat in place, spanning the two sides. To avoid cracking the wood, drill pilot holes  with the ⅛-inch drill bit before sinking the deck screws to secure the seat in place. Use three screws per side.

Affix the bench back in the same manner, being sure to drill pilot holes before sinking the deck screws. Use three screws per side.

Related: How To Build The Ultimate Super-Sturdy Tomato Cage

leopold bench
Patrick Montero
Place and sit

Once the bench is assembled, it’s ready to place in the garden and enjoy. You can weatherproof it with a few coats of paint or stain, if you wish. At the very least, the cut edges of the bench legs should be sealed to prevent premature deterioration from ground moisture.