Outdoor Storage Bench

Well, I did it. I just crossed the last item off the list (I think!) of the Simple Outdoor Collection. This collection was very much inspired by West Elm’s Wood Slat Collection, and this particular storage bench was inspired by West Elm’s Wood Slat Storage Bench.
Thanks to Janae for the Photo.


Projects built from this plan. Thank you for submitting brag posts, it's appreciated by all!


Author Notes: 

What a great place to store pillows on a windy day! And I have a feeling this bench at my house would be full of sandbox toys, painted some bold color. I’m really loving this soothing blue.

Shopping List: 

15 – 1×4 Boards, 8′ Long
6 – 1×3 Boards, 8′ Long
2 – 1×2 Board, 8′ Long
2 Door Hinges for exterior use

1 1/4 inch screws
2 inch screws
120 grit sandpaper
paint brush
measuring tape
hammer (can be substituted for brad nailer with a nail punch)
safety glasses
hearing protection
General Instructions: 

I decided to break this plan down into sections because I know that you are probably a busy mom just like me and only have one naptime a day. I’m certain that you could build a panel a day, and have a bench by the weekend! Same rules apply when you build this bench, make sure you are using straight boards, working on a level surface that is clean (even a tiny bit of sawdust can throw you off). Make sure you check every panel for square as you are building it. To save you some time, round up a piece of 1/4″ plywood and use it as a spacer when screwing your slats down. Be safe and have fun!

Overall Dimensions are shown above.
Cut List: 

4 – 1×4 @ 20″ (Legs)
22 – 1×4 @ 17″ (Side Slats)
4 – 1×3 @ 45 1/2″ (Frame Boards, Top and Bottom)
4 – 1×2 @ 11 1/4″ (Frame Boards, Ends)

12 – 1×4 @ 17″ (End Panel Slats)
4 – 1×3 @ 16 1/4″ (Frame for the ends)
4 – 1×3 @ 17 1/4″ (Frame for the tops and bottoms)

6 – 1×4 @ 47″ (Bottom)

13 – 1×4 @ 23 3/4″ (Top Slats)
3 – 1×2 @ 45 1/2″ (Top Frame Supports)

Step 1: 

Build two side panels as shown above. The easiest way to do this would be to start with one of the legs. Mark the leg 1 1/2″ in (you could just use a 1×2 since it’s 1 1/2″ wide) from the outside. Then attach the pink board to the top corner, as shown above. The space a green board 1/4″ from the leg and attach to the pink board. For now, I would just use 1 screw. Attach all of the green boards and the remaining leg to the top pink board. Then carefully adjust all of the boards unitl the outside corners of the legs are square with each other. Then add the blue boards to the legs, and then the remaining pink boards. Go back and add more screws to the top frame board. Use 1 1/4″ screws and glue. Build two side panels.

Step 2 Instructions: 

The end panels are going to be super simple. Start by screwing a blue board to a green board to create your ends. Then lay your all of the green boards down, including the two with the blue boards screwed to the tops, and lay the pink boards on top. Screw the pink boards to the green boards using 1 1/4″ screws and glue. Make sure you are checking for square and there is a 3/4″ gap under the bottom pink boards. All other outside edges are flush. You will need to construct two end panels.

Step 3 Instructions: 

When your panels are complete, attach the panels as shown above. Use 2″ screws and you can skip the glue if you plan to disassemble at some point.

Step 4 Instructions: 

Attach the bottom boards as shown above using 2″ screws. Use glue if you want a stronger more permanent joint, no glue if you wish to disassemble at some point.

Step 5 Instructions: 

Build the top panel as shown above, screwing through the 1x2s into the underside of the top slats using 1 1/4″ screws and glue. Then attach the top to the bench using hinges.

Step 6 Instructions: 

You probably already finished the pieces (or at least each panel) so just add paintable silicone to any exposed screws or imperfections, lightly sand, and apply a touch up coat. You may also wish to spray on a clear coat for added protection from the elements.

Estimated Cost: 
Skill Level: 


Midwest cedar lumber prices(cedar, for outdoor usage):
1x4 $6
1x3 $5
1x2 $4
Everyone always asks about the price so I thought this would help to give an idea. The wood is about $130. Not bad compred to the W.E. price of $330!

I just made the storage bench. I'll post picture on facebook after I finish painting it and add the hinges.

I just want to say that a few of the measurements on the cut list were wrong. Luckily, I like to go by the pictures (which were right) and measure as I go.

Also, it only cost me about $30-$40. I found a local recycling store. It's basically a cross between goodwill and lowes. It was an amazing discovery. They didn't have all the sizes, but what I got was cheap.

Janae, thanks for stopping back by to comment on the cut list errors. All fixed! And super smart to cut as you go, following the diagrams, I am definitely human! Ana

When I was pregnant with our first son, I got my husband to build something very similar to this for babyproofing the cat's litterbox. He built it with a solid plywood bottom, and he made a opening for a door in the back panel. We positioned it about 5-6 inches away from the wall and put the litterbox, extra litter, scooper, etc inside. The cat walks around to the back and enters to take care of business. Our oldest is now 7, and we are still using the box because it hides everything so well.

My husband is building this to replace our $160 toy box that fell apart after 1 year! :-/ Can't wait to send pictures of the finished project.

I'm also interested in how to make this watertight. I actually just posted a bench on the facebook site that I was hoping to make but looks like these plans are already done but the gaps between the boards would make it a problem... any ideas?

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To make it watertight - or close to it:
When building the panels, don't make the frame flush with the top. Drop it down a half inch or so. Put weather stripping in that space.
For the sides, top and bottom, instead of using individual boards, just have the lumber yard cut you a piece of redwood plywood. It looks like paneling.
Just stain or paint!

I think this would be great to make it look like the trunk coffee table that is so popular now. Maybe adding some kind of buckles, I don't know, but I can see it possibly being made to look like a trunk.

Someday when we move back home to San Diego, CA (currently active duty Coast Guard in Sitka, AK) I plan on building this box for our backyard patio with screen material attached to the inside to keep the bugs and spiders out. Just an idea for those of you with the same problem.

I have a small dog that chews everything in the back yard into tiny little pieces, especially flip-flops! We need something like this to store all that stuff in! (Don't worry about the dog, he doesn't actually eat any of the stuff, he just likes to make a mess for us to clean up!)

In designing patio furniture, don’t forget to think about the function of your patio design. Do you like it so serve as dining are on warm summer nights? Do you want to use it to host your birthday party or your outdoor dinner party? Or, do you want to use it as outdoor family room to serve a place to enjoy reading and gathering with your family? source this in Precioushomedesign.com