Monday, August 13, 2012

Tutorial for DIY X Leg Upholstered Bench


I was super, super excited last Thursday to have been invited by Kate at Centsational Girl to feature my X bench tutorial on her site.  Isn't she wonderful?  For those of you who may have missed the CG feature and have been waiting since my X bench preview, read on for the full tutorial right here on The Chronicles of Home.

A few questions that came up from readers over on CG were the cost of making the bench and the sturdiness of it.  The oak for the bench cost around $17 and the fabric (Waverly Ellis in Hemp) was $10/yard and I used less than a yard.  I had everything else left over from other projects but believe you could make the entire thing for under $50.  As far as the structural soundness of the bench, I see no signs of weakness here!  We've been sitting on it for a few weeks now and it's as sturdy as can be.  Just be absolutely sure you don't skip the nails.  Wood glue alone won't be enough to support weight over time.

And now read on, to find out how you can make your very own X leg bench!



Whether you call them X leg stools, X leg ottomans, or X leg benches, they're extremely versatile pieces that can be used for extra seating anywhere you need it because they're so lightweight and moveable.  They can be stored away against a wall or under a table when not in use, grouped around a coffee table, used as a coffee table alone or in a pair, or grouped at the bottom of a bed.  The possibilities are practically endless.

I've had my eye on a pair of them for my living room for awhile now but decided I wanted to try my hand at making them myself instead of buying them, both to cut costs and because I love making furniture and seeing how things go together.  My two primary inspiration pieces were these:


I liked the chunky legs on the bench at left and the streamlined, nailhead-studded top of the one on the right.

I tend to be a visual thinker so took an old piece of cardboard and drew a sketch of the finished piece.  I'd recommend doing the same so you have a reference to be sure your angles are cut correctly.


Do keep in mind that the angles given here will work for these measurements, giving you a finished X leg bench that is 17" square and 17" high.  You can change the length of the bench from one X leg to the other without needing to make any angle changes but any shift in the width or the height of the bench will alter the angles needed to make everything fit together properly.

I like to make my first cuts using scrap wood and then lay them on top of my sketch to be sure I don't make mistakes and waste my nicer materials.  I can't tell you how many times I've cut my angles going in the wrong direction and am always so much happier when that happens on scrap wood!  When you're ready to get started, use a miter saw to make the following cuts:
  • 1 1/2"x3/4" oak hardwood planks - cut one end at a 50º angle.  Measure 9 1/2" from the pointed side and cut the other end at a 9º angle.  Do this process eight times, giving you eight identically-cut pieces of wood.
  • 1 1/2"x3/4" oak hardwood planks - cut one end at a 50º angle.  Measure 19" from the pointed end and cut the other end at 50º as well.  Do this process four times, giving you four identically-cut pieces of wood.
  • 1 1/2"x3/4" oak hardwood planks - cut one end at a straight angle.  Measure 17" and cut the other end at a straight angle as well.  Do this process twice, giving you two identically-cut pieces of wood.
  • 1 1/2"x1 1/2" oak hardwood plank - cut one end at a straight angle.  Measure 14" and cut the other end at a straight angle as well.  You only need one piece cut like this.
You will also need a piece of 3/4" plywood cut to a 17" square, 4"-thick foam cut to 17" square, at least a 30 1/2" square of cotton batting, at least a 30 1/2" square of the fabric you want to use to cover the top, wood glue, wood stain, upholstery nails (I used 88 nails purchased from Lowes), a staple gun and staples, 1 1/4" and 2 1/2" finishing nails, and 1 1/2" wood screws.  I needed four 6'-long 1 1/2"x3/4" oak planks to make the first three groups of cuts above.

Once the oak is all cut, use sandpaper or a pad sander to sand it down.  Lay one of the 19" pieces on the ground.  Lay one of the 9 1/2" pieces on top, lining up the ends, to determine which sides will be facing each other.  Spread wood glue on the bottom side of the 9 1/2" inch piece and press into place on top of the 19" piece, fine tuning the positioning so all edges line up exactly.


Lay another of the 19" pieces on top, perpendicular to the 9 1/2" piece, and repeat the wood glue and positioning process on the other side with another of the 9 1/2" pieces.  Check them after 10-15 minutes to be sure none of the wood has slipped.


Do this same thing with the other two 19" pieces and two more of the 9 1/2" pieces.  Let the glue set up for 30-60 minutes, then carefully flip the glued X's over and follow the same process with the remaining four 9 1/2" pieces.  Also add a dab of glue in the center notch where the two pieces fit together.  Let the glue dry fully overnight.  Once dry, hammer three 1 1/4" finishing nails down each length of the 9 1/2" pieces.



Lay one of the X's on the floor and put a dab of wood glue in the center.  Position the 14" piece of oak in the center and let dry 30-60 minutes.


Carefully place the other X on top of the 14" piece.  And then very, very carefully, pressing the X's together, place the legs on the floor as they will stand when finished, to be sure everything is lined up properly.  Then again very, very carefully, flip back to vertical to allow the glue to completely dry.  The positioning part is very important or you could be left with a wobbly, uneven leg base.


When the glue has dried completely, hammer two 2 1/2" finishing nails through each outside X-middle into the center piece to strengthen the bond between the X legs and the middle piece.  Then stain the wood using the stain of your choice (don't forget to stain those two 17" straight pieces!).  I used Minwax oil-based stain in Kona.

Place one of the 17" straight-cut pieces on top of one of the X legs and position so the ends are flush.  Holding tightly, pre-drill small holes to make sure the screws go in straight and everything lines up.  Drive a 1 1/2" wood screw through each pre-drilled hole, one on each end, then repeat on the other X leg.


**For detailed instructions on assembling and upholstering the top of the x-leg bench, go here**

The final step, after constructing the top, is laying the assembled, covered seat upside down on the floor, carefully positioning the X base upside down on top of it, and pre-drilling a couple holes in the middle of each 17" piece, now attached to the X base.  Drive a 1 1/2" wood screw through each hole, and repeat on the other side. 


Flip it over, and have a seat or prop your legs up!



 


To see the bench in our living room, go here or here.


Grab button for Creating with the Stars

49 comments:

  1. The bench is adorable, and you did a great job on the fabric - I have a hard time with the corner folds everytime!!!

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    1. Thanks, Julia! Just takes a lot of trial and error :)

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    2. Thank you so much. I am in the process of redoing a guest room and am going to make two of these for a place to put the opened suitcase. These are wonderful.

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  2. Thanks so much for the tutorial!! I just told my husband we've got a project to tackle...

    Jeannine @ The Concrete Cottage

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  3. excellent tutorial-very easy to follow! your stool turned out beautifully!

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  4. love this! I think I'll have to give it a try soon! thanks for sharing :)

    Sarah

    http://sarahmdorseydesigns.blogspot.com/

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  5. Awesome! Your bench looks fantastic. Found it on Pinterest and will share on Facebook!
    p.s. you might want to take off your word verification. Many won't leave comments if a blogger has it on. Also, it's easy to lose comments if someone closes their tab before the verification comes up. :)

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  6. Oh my thanks so much for this tutorial! I've been wanting to make a bench for my desk for weeks and couldn't find a good tutorial. I seriously love you now haha.

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    1. Thanks, Kahli! Same happened for me - couldn't find a tutorial...so I figured it out for myself! Very happy to share :)

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  7. What a great job! Love the idea of drawing the parts out first as I'm a visual person too. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  8. You made it look very easy to do! And the result is amazing! It's an instant home decor for any home :-)

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  9. gah---this is gorgeous and looks like you spent hundreds of dollars on it!!!

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  10. Love the clean lines - you did a beautiful job!

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  11. Wow I can't believe you made this from scratch! It came out beautiful, much beter than the inspiration. Pinned it, just in case I ever feel the urge to tackle this project, lol.

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  12. This is awesome! I love the fabric choice. Great job!

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  13. Love this project! Just one quick question...
    9 1/2" + 9 1/2" = 19"
    When you add in the perpendicular 19" board, doesn't the small piece overhang by 1 1/2"?
    It doesn't seem to add up in my mind. Any help would be much appreciated!

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    1. Hi Steve,

      I can see how that would seem confusing. Remember that the leg pieces are all cut with angles on one end, making one side of each piece 9 1/2" but the other side of the piece is shorter because of the angle. Only the longer side is 9 1/2". Promise it all fits together like a neat little puzzle if you follow my measurements exactly!

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  14. I love your stool! I've been wanting a bench at the end of my bed for ages and I'm thinking that I could make 3 or 4 sets of legs with a longer top? Do you think that would work if I use all of your measurements but just increase the size of the top? I'm pinning this one!

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  15. jennifer this is awesome! i love the nailhead trim- it has a little more elegance, the fabric is modern, the wood is rustic, and together it all unites beautifully!

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  16. Wow! You are a pro.... the bench looks amazing and is perfect for the room, well done! Visiting from Primitive and Proper....
    Cathy @ Room Rx

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  17. That is awesome. I love the fabric. Can you come over and make one for me? :) Great job!

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  18. This is great! I love it. In our house even a little person could use it as a sitting place. Thanks for sharing
    Donna @onceuponasewingmachine.com

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  19. I can't believe you made this! It looks so professional! Love it :)

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  20. Great tutorial! Love your bench - I may have to try making one for our living room!

    I just discovered your blog through a link party and absolutely love it! You definitely have a new follower :)

    Emily @notwithoutheels.com

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  21. Hey sweet Jen...I have seen this on Pinterest several times and i am so happy that you took the time to share at our HAPPY HOUR linky party...It's these sort of beautiful projects that inspire me on a daily basis...so thank you....hope you have a great weekend...talk to you soon..xo
    Lucy

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  22. Oh my goodness I am in love with your bench. Seriously what a perfect tutorial and project!!!! Thank you SOOO much for the inspiration and for linking up at happy hour!!! i am off to "like ya" via facebook---because I sure am your newest huge fan!!!
    Jaime from crafty scrappy happy

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  23. This turned out great! I love it :)

    -Fotini

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  24. Love this! Cute, cute - and, great tutorial! Just stumbled across your blog - can't wait to check it out!
    Christy @prettyparsonage.blogspot.com

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  26. That is a really nice stool/bench. I'd make it longer and put it in my (future) breakfast nook.

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  27. This bench is amazing! I've been thinking about doing something like this but didnt know where to start and this is a great tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing with us :)

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  28. Thx so much for a very nice and detailed tutorial. Very thoughtful. I love the bench! Great job.

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  29. WOW...this is beautiful! I just LOVE stools! You did a fabulous job. Thanks for the tutorial. I'm happy to be your newest follower. Would love to have you stop by for a visit! Blessings ~ Judy

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  30. This is such a great idea. My husband had just told me to get a couple of luggage racks for our long narrow guest room which can't handle a piece of furniture to hold guest luggage. I did not want to get something from B,B&B because my guest bedroom is too cool for something so ordinary. This is perfect. I can put my own spin on it with fabric. ~~~Connie DeVore

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    1. Sounds like a perfect use for this kind of piece! Thanks for stopping by, Connie!

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  31. What an awesome tutorial, Jennifer! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  32. This is so fantastic. Seriously, SO FANTASTIC. I'm so happy I found your blog through Pinterest. I will definitely be working on this project (with my husband) soon. He can do the woodwork and I'll do the upholstery. Thank you so much for sharing the instructions with us!

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  33. I wonder.... Do you think this design would work with a larger scale design with some slight modifications?

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    1. If you change the height or depth you'd have to make some modification to the angles and lengths. You can change the length to anything at all though and keep the same leg cuts the same as what I did.

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  34. This is so cute, great job indeed. I can not wait to try it out

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  35. Hi! Two quick questions - 1, is this weight bearing - i.e., can you sit on it?

    And finally - I made your x-side console table this weekend. I had some troubles with just the finishing nails. As soon as my table was complete, it started falling apart. I'm not sure if I did something wrong, and I ended up securing it with wood screws. Have you ever had that problem, too?

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    1. Hi Amanda,

      We sit on our X benches. One of them got a touch wobbly after a few months but I was able to add another screw underneath and it's fine now. The other one has been sturdy for many months now.

      As for the table, I'm not sure what happened for you. I didn't use any screws, just the 1 1/4" nails, and the table is rock solid. I used a nail gun (with air compressor) to shoot the nails in, which would sink them a little deeper than if you did it by hand. That's all I can think of that would have made a difference though. Shoot me an e-mail if you want to talk more about it, I'm happy to try to help!

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    2. Hi, Jennifer

      Thanks for replying so quickly. Good to know about the benches - they are so cute and I want to make some this weekend. As for the table, even with the addition of visible screws, it is beyond cute.

      I'll have to try the nail gun - like I needed an excuse for more tools :)

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    3. Me too, I'm becoming a bit of a tool hoarder!

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  36. I'm in love with this! I have to try it!! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  37. Jennifer! Love this bench...wondering where you are purchasing your wood from for this project and most others. This looks like oak and seems a little more high quality than what Lowe's or Home Depot would carry? Thanks!

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