I love building websites, and graphic design, and typography, and photography, and photo editing, and crafting someone’s online strategy…. all things creative and techy. But I also love to step away from the digital stuff and physically build something once in a while… like lots of people do! I get a big urge every month or so to trade in the mouse and keyboard for pencil and draft paper to follow. Then maybe paint and canvas, or hammer and nails. Either way, every once in a while I feel a really strong urge to create something with my bare hands. Something I’ll have to scrub them clean for when I’m done. Like a creative cleanse.

Usually, it’s a painting. But, our apartment is only so big, and I’ve already painted over all our huge canvases. So this time, it was a bench. :) And I gave myself a day to make it (this past Sunday).

The Thought Process

It was a bench becaaaaauuuuse:
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  • My husband Ryan was out of town and it was the perfect opportunity to make something for him… and surprise him with it when he came home on Monday!
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  • I’m a big fan of functional design. Paint a painting that you KNOW will look good in a certain room of your home; Build a piece of furniture you’re actually going to sit on or use… It needs a purpose.
  • We needed something for our bare little balcony – specifically for us to sit on and drink our pre-dinner beers together. :)
  • I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to woodworking. I just enjoy the basics of it, took a few classes growing up, knew my retired-aerospace-engineer dad could help me if I got stuck… So a bench was doable. For me.
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    The Example

    I found this guy’s project, saw he had no idea what he was doing but still made something, printed it, took it to my parents’ house where my huge family was already having Sunday brunch together, and showed my dad. I told him I wanted to “re-create that but do a wayyyy better version. And I need to finish it today so it dries before Ryan gets home.” He laughed and said ok, that I could maybe pull it off…

    The Goods

    Then I saw a bunch of tree stumps he had piled up in the backyard and changed the design; I definitely wanted to use the stumps for a more natural and raw look over the standard 4 legs. I thought Ryan would like the same thing… which, turns out he did! My dad also had a really nice burgundy-colored stain that I liked for the finish, so luckily I didn’t have to buy that either.

    So, I went to Home Depot to buy the only items I would have to buy for this project: one 4″ x 12″ x 8′ piece of Douglas Fir lumber ($26) and four 6″ Galvanized Hex head lag screws ($4). We would cut the wood to 5′ long (too bad Lowe’s NOR Home Depot will cut wood this thick for you.. sucky!). I like the look of industrial/metal textures mixed with natural/wood materials. So since I wanted the screws to show through, the galvanized texture mattered… and I liked it better than shiny. All in all, this bench ended up costing us only $30. Not bad at all.

    The End!

    Anyway I’ll leave the technical stuff out.. I’m sure you can see how the rest of it went through the pictures. It took me the entire day, mainly because of all the sanding I had to do to make it somewhat level and smooth enough to sit on, but I’m proud of it. Best of all: Ryan was totally surprised, and he loves it too. :)