Hello, hello, Remodelaholic-ers! I'm Allison from Shark Tails, and I'm so happy to be back sharing another beginner building project that was certainly a labor of love for me (and a little frustration, truth be told)! Last time I visited, I showed you how almost anyone can build a simple nightstand using pine boards and a Kreg Jig, and today I am showing you how I built this modern triangle leg bench for our entry way using some 2x2s and 1x3s.
As part of our entry way refresh, I wanted to replace the little bench we had sitting next to the stairs. We inherited it from the previous home owners, and though there isn't really anything wrong with it, it's a little small for adult-sized butts and also just a bit blah. When I saw this mid-century bench on Etsy, my heart did a little flip-flop:
Seriously, how beautiful is that? Let's get real, though: I possess neither the skills nor the tools needed to make such a beautiful piece of furniture, so I settled on using the main structure of the bench (read: those amazing triangular legs) as my inspiration, and attempted to replicate the basic shape using inexpensive pine boards and my drill.
How to Build a Mid-Century Inspired Triangle Leg Bench
Click here to get a free printable version of this building plan
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Materials and Tools
- 1x3x10 pine board (1)
- 2x2x8 pine board (3)
- 2 1/2″ wood screws
- 2 1/2″ and 1 1/4″ Kreg screws
- Miter saw
- Drill and drill bits
- Kreg Jig pocket hole system
- Random orbit sander and 80, 120 grit pads
- Wood glue
- Wood filler
- Stain of your choice (I used Puritan Pine by Minwax) and cloths/latex gloves
- Clear coat and brushes for application
The first thing I did was determine the angles for my triangles. This was a lot of trial and error, so I used scrap 2×2 framing lumber that I had laying around the garage until I'd perfected a template for the legs. Your legs will look like this:
In order to make the four triangles needed for the legs from the 2x2s, you'll cut four each 14 3/8″ parallelograms with both ends at 15°.
For the other side of the triangle, you'll cut four trapezoids (16″ long end to long end) with one end at 45° and one at 30°.
*Please ensure that the lengths/angles of each piece are checked and rechecked with each cut to keep your triangles as uniform as possible. To make things easier, after I had both side pieces perfect, I used them as my templates for cutting the others, rather than messing with the measuring tape. That way I knew they would all match up perfectly.
Once they are all cut, join them together using 2 1/2″ pocket holes and wood glue. Because of the angle, your outside pocket hole will be closer to the end of your board. I used a 1 1/4″ screw for this hole as I didn't want it to come out the bottom of the leg. It worked really well and the hold was nice and tight. You can go ahead and use a 2 1/2″ screw for the inside hole.
When you're assembling your triangles, make sure to pay attention and mark where the pocket holes should go so that they are all facing the inside of the bench once attached to the seat. It helps to stand them up the way they'll be once the bench seat is attached and mark them that way to make sure you get the right side.
Once the two side pieces are attached together, you can fill the holes with wood filler (which is what I did), Kreg plugs, or leave them as is.
Next it is time to assemble the top frame/seat with 2x2s. I mitered my corners, but that is a personal preference and you can leave the edges square if you prefer (as shown in the diagram below).
For this step, instead of using pocket holes, I simply drilled pilot holes into the corners, and attached each piece using wood glue and 2 1/2″ countersunk wood screws. I kept everything square while I was assembling the frame with my right angle clamp, and it worked really well!
Once you have your frame assembled, measure the inner width and cut your 1×3 slats accordingly. They will be about 13 5/8″ long. I needed seven slats, and attached mine using 3/4″ pocket holes and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws, flush to the bottom of the bench (with pocket holes facing down). I started from the center board and worked my way outward, putting 2 3/4″ between each slat. The right edge of the center board should be 20″ in from the left side of the frame (see diagram below).
Ok, so once you have your top frame assembled, it should be smooth sailing attaching the legs, but it wasn't for me. I had originally planned on attaching them with pocket holes, but I didn't think ahead, and had no way of fitting the drill in between the inner triangle to make the pocket holes. Dummy! If you want to use pocket holes to attach the legs to the bench frame, you have to drill them before assembling the legs.
After kicking myself for being so stupid, my only choice was to drill directly down into the top of the frame and into the leg, which was obviously not ideal as it would be noticeable. Unfortunately I didn't really have a choice at this point, and they ended up not looking so bad. I applied some wood glue and clamped the legs in place (I lined them up with the seam of the frame corners to make it easy, so about 1 1/2″ in from the end), drilled two pilot holes, and then counter sunk two 2 1/2″ wood screws in to secure the legs.
Once I had all the legs attached, I added a 2×2 support board between front and back legs. You could do this with hidden pocket holes but at this point I figured it would be fine to just drill a pilot hole then countersink a screw right through the outer leg and into the board, and fill it later.
Now that your bench is assembled, you should fill all your holes/gaps with stain-able wood filler. Once it's completely dry, sand down your entire piece to a nice smooth finish.
You can see here where my screw holes were covered with filler, and I guess it's not the end of the world.
I wanted a really light finish to balance the color of my stairs, so I went with Minwax Puritan Pine. I didn't use any pre-conditioner or anything, just rubbed it on with a lint free cloth and called it a day.
Once the stain was dry, I followed up with three coats of Minwax waterbased (oil modified) poly in satin, sanding lightly with 220 grit paper between each coat.
I wasn't too sure if I was loving the color until I got it into the house and accessorized with the seat cushion I made and some fun throws and pillows:
Guys. I love it! It turned out way better than I could have hoped, and dare I say I might like it even more than the inspo picture? I think it fits in perfectly with the space and the rest of our home and I am so proud that I made it myself.
I'm not crazy about the visible screws, but I'm not too bothered by them either!
It's incredibly sturdy and the perfect size: two people can sit on it comfortably, but it's not so huge that it makes the entryway feel cramped.
I spent just under $50 for this triangle leg bench, which includes the fabric and foam for the cushion. You can download the free plans to build this for your own home (above), and it's pretty easy to customize in order to suit any space. Remember to share your photos with Remodelaholic if you do decide to tackle this project!
Good luck, and happy building!
More benches you can build: