Have you ever wondered how to build a simple bench for your farmhouse table? Today’s post shows just how simple it really is.Architectural salvage hunting gives us a little high especially if we stumble upon a rare place. Whenever we are in Sarasota, Florida, we try to stop at the Sarasota Architectural Salvage warehouse. We can usually find something we can take back to Orlando with us in the back of the truck.
This particular time we went, Dean spotted this gorgeous piece of wood. We knew we had to get it once we discovered the history behind it. We were told that this vintage piece of wood was from the old Ringling Bros. Circus hotel in Sarasota. The hotel, El-Vernona, John Ringling Hotel, was built in 1926 and demolished in 1998.
Instead of adding 2-3 more chairs to our Farmhouse table, we decided to build a simple bench to add character.
How To Build A Simple Bench
(1) 2″ x 12″ x 10′ wooden slab
(4) 1/2″ cast iron end caps
(2) 5″ metal “L” bracket with pre-drilled hole
Rust-oleum spray paint in hammered bronze (optional)
Handful of wood screws
Here is the beautiful 2″ x 12″ x10′ piece of historic, reclaimed Cypress wood slab. These slabs were milled and ripped from the structural wooden beam supports in the dining room of the El Vernona Hotel. I haven’t shown this to Diane, but here is an interior photo from the dining room!
How cool is that? You can see the stenciling of the beams in the ceiling and you can look at the side of the bench to see the same stenciling and to also see how the beams were ripped down to size. A rip is a cut along the entire length of the piece of wood as opposed to a cross cut, which goes across the width of the wood.
We did receive a Certificate of Authenticity from the seller verifying that these are in fact from the John Ringling Towers. Unfortunately for us, this was the only slab left, so someone somewhere has a whole bunch of these fantastic pieces of architectural history!
Sorry, I digress!
The first thing we needed to do was determine the height of our bench. 17″-20″ tall is considered a comfortable bench or seat height and using a circular saw, I cut off the ends of the slab at 17″. The 17″ tall legs of the bench in addition to the 2″ thickness of the slab gave us the 19″ total height of the bench.
The cuts for the legs came from the respective ends of the slab so that the stenciling pattern would match with the sides of the bench seat.
After making the leg cuts, I drilled two 1/2″ holes into identical places on both legs. This is where the legs will receive the cast iron threaded pipe. There are a couple of different forces that need to be addressed to make sure that the legs of the bench can support the force (weight) of the dead load capacity of the bench.
Basically, it is to make sure that the bench legs don’t collapse outward or inward and to prevent any wobble in the bench itself. The pipes help to eliminate the bench legs from collapsing outward.
The cast iron pipe comes in black and has an oily film that needs to be wiped off and I wanted to add a patina that was more bronze than black. A simple spray can of hammered metal bronze was then used to paint the pipe, pipe end caps and the metal brackets.
Once the legs are cut and the pipe installed through the ends, simply screw on the threaded end caps and placed on the bench top. The bronze spray paint also helped to mimic the color of the legs on the farm table. Position the legs so that there is an overhang on both ends. There is a 2 1/2″ overhang on both ends of this bench.
Once the bench top location was determined, I attached it to the legs using the 5″ metal “L” bracket with stainless steel wood screws. The metal “L” bracket helps to keep the legs from collapsing inward.
It is a pretty simple assembly process and with a few more tools, I may have tried some fancier attachment detailing like a Dado or mortise and tenon joint! Maybe next time?
Here it is! Our new/old farm table bench or maybe our new farm table bench with some history? Whatever you want to call it, the bench makes for a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture and can easily seat 4 more people. Maybe I won’t have to eat at the kids table anymore!
You may want to sand the seat so that you won’t snag your clothing. We decided to leave this in it’s original state and that it did not need sanded.
We hope you discovered that how to build a simple bench is really that simple!
Check out how we built a Pottery Barn inspired farmhouse table for our daughter here.