Fast Project: Leopold Lawn Bench

This easy how-to is quicker than you think.

May 7, 2015
Leopold Bench

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.

Read A Short Bio Of Aldo Leopold


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!

Here's a video of the whole process—read on for detailed instructions below.

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)

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

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

1. 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.

Leopold Bench Step 1

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

Leopold Bench Step 3

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

Leopold Bench Step 4

3. 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.

Leopold Bench Step 5

4. 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.

Leopold Bench Step 7

5. 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.

Leopold Bench Step 8

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

7. 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.