How to find a beautiful bench in the dumpster:

By popular request… that’s not true. Although actually it is the most requested thing on this site. But also the only requested thing on this site. In all honesty I’m writing this for the unfortunately named, Coop Poop.

The hardest thing may be finding the pallets. Every time I see a shop or restaurant being overhauled with a skip outside (US: Dumpster!) then I pull over and ask if they wouldn’t mind if I had a look. Often they’ll be full of pallets and old bits of timber and so far the owners are more than happy for me to empty their skip for free.

Let’s assume we have pallets.Β Second hardest (most tedious) thing is deconstructing them. Get your claw hammer, a mallet may help and something for a lever – crowbar, chisel, flat-headed screwdriver. Start hitting, prying and pulling. Drink plenty of Gin and Tonic to stay motivated.

So, from all the scrap wood your aim is to have this (pallets unfortunately do not come in pretty colours – but I’ll leave the painting to you):

  • Two horizontal beams, preferably 2″x4″ or there abouts – these are 76″ in length but this can be varied based on what wood you have.
  • Four legs, preferably 4″x4″ because they need to be sturdy to prevent wobble – these are 16″ in length but this can vary depending on how high you want your bench.
  • Two inside rims, preferably 2″x1″ – these need to be cut 8″ less that the horizontal beams, mine are 68″.
  • Two end plates, any planks from the pallets – these need to be the width of your slats plus the width of your two beams (mine are 15″ + 2″ + 2″ = 19″)
  • Slats, any planks from the pallets but enough to fill the length of your horizontal beams – you can just lay them out until you have enough – mine are cut at 15″.
  • I stained the wood with store bought wood preserver intended for outside use (this and some wood screws were my only costs).


1. Mount the Inside Rims

The inside rims need to be screwed to the horizontal beams. They sit a slat depth down and a leg width in. Easy get this right with the leg and the slat:

It’s worth checking the inside rail remains level as you screw along the length. Just slide the slat along to check. The inside rail will support the slats.

Should look like this when finished:

2. Cut and Mount the Legs.

This is the one vaguely complicated bit, but it’s worth doing right to get a secure leg. It may require some additional Gin and Tonic.

Measure from the base of the horizontal beam to the top of the inside rail:

Measure the width of the horizontal beam:

Transfer this information onto the top of end of one of the legs. You can use the saw edge to get a definite right angle:

Cut along the lines so your leg looks like this:

Match leg to the horizontal beam. Make sure the leg is flush to the front and to the side and screw together. Preferably from the back to the front to hide the screws from view (depends on the length of your screws):

Repeat the process on all the legs and place the beams parallel to each other:

3. The End Plates.

Ensure the horizontal beams are parallel and the correct distance apart using a couple of your slats:

It’s worth pre-screwing the end plates unless you have a helper to hold them in place while you screw

Make sure legs are straight when you screw in the end slats:

4. The Slats

Your bench is now ready for slat fitting and fun colour rearranging (depending on the number of Gin and Tonics consumed).

Alternatively I will make you one for $300 – have another Gin and Tonic and then place an order.

The gallery below gives a photo breakdown of the whole procedure:

68 Comments Add yours

  1. Adding this to the guidebook?

  2. Okay. This is incredible. Great instructions and wonderfully detailed photos.
    It really amazes me what can be built from “scrap”. I am planning on building my own tiny house on a trailer and am darn near convinced I could build it entirely out of recycled materials.

    Great post.

    1. Drop the ‘darned near’ and be convinced!

  3. Reblogged this on Belle and Chris and commented:

    Making benches for the wedding!

  4. Jean says:

    I need a bench for my balcony. πŸ™‚

  5. iamrising says:

    BEAUTIFUL! I’ve never seen crate furniture look so right-on before! Awesome work, tribute to creative carpentry!

  6. Wow :O
    This is what we call practising eco friendliness!
    Kudos to you man πŸ™‚

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed!
    Check mine too?
    Cheers πŸ™‚

  7. I have always wanted to make things from odds and ends. FOLLOWED!

  8. Love this! Thanks for the green idea πŸ™‚

  9. Wow. This is beautiful work. Thanks for sharing.

  10. segmation says:

    You are so creative with your dumpster find! How beautiful. I wonder what you will create next time.

  11. Wonderful, I wish I was “handy” like that!

  12. Pamela says:

    Love, love and love. You can make me a bench any time πŸ™‚

    1. I am tempted to go into bench business… πŸ™‚

      1. Pamela says:

        You should! We want colorful benches πŸ™‚

        1. chrismithonline says:

          Custom colours, of course…

  13. This is a great article ! im a dyi’er but i keep it on the dl cause its more a hobby. thanks for the info!!

  14. That just shows how nothing is really a waste, everything can be used again. Well done.

  15. Reblogged this on Digital Pittsburgh and commented:
    Great project, and wonderful photos.

  16. Hey all,

    Cheers for the kind comments. Did I mention in the post that it’s really easy to do?! The main thing it takes is time.

    You have all got me thinking about the next project though…

  17. Kim Goldberg says:

    I love this! It’s beautiful. I’m going to make one myself – or something similar. Amazing what can be done with pallets. Your variegated painting/staining of the slats makes this one exceptionally lovely. Great photo-instructions too! πŸ™‚

  18. mica says:

    Wonderful idea. Looks fantastic!

  19. mirrormon says:

    it looks great….. thanx for showing the how to’s πŸ™‚

  20. jithinjohny says:

    looks great…

    congrags for being freshly pressed πŸ˜€

  21. Luks says:

    Great find of scrap woods and the result is fantastic! love the colors too.

  22. Luks says:

    Reblogged this on Kolorful Interests and commented:
    Great finds, great photos and colorful

  23. That is a really neat idea. It looks like a lot of work but, then again, considering the price of benches and how nice it looks in the end, it’s worth it, I’m sure.

  24. Jesse says:

    I love this. I am another DIYer and I am going to follow you. Nuf said.

  25. uhhhmmm, i’m horrible at building things and wouldn’t recommend that anyone sit on something i built….but this is so inspiring and well put together that I might go for a popsicle chair for my daughters barbie! Thanks for being Awesome!

    1. GRAB IT – I’ve got a stock pile going in the backyard!

  26. den says:

    Awesome! A place near me always leaves them out with a “free” sign. I just may have to try this!

  27. Fenya says:

    That looks great!

  28. akwoman says:

    Fantastic! I’m totally going to make one of these for my cabin! Thanks for the great detailed instructions!

  29. akwoman says:

    Reblogged this on alaskacabinliving and commented:
    Had to reblog this from “freshly pressed” today! Gonna make one next summer!

  30. I too love finding treasures from the skip – well done!

    1. WOW – now there’s some inspiration. I’m definitely making some chairs! Thanks You.

      1. ripe red berries says:

        my pleasure…look forward to seeing them…

  31. Like the Piet Hein Eeck furniture! But cheaper!

  32. If I go into production then 1) I’ll need to be famous and 2) I’m inspired to use nuts and bolts instead of screws to clean up the design πŸ™‚

  33. Dumpster diving never looked so good!! This is great!

  34. auroraOak says:

    very pretty, I’d love to buy one someday

  35. Surely the response here should show you that you could sell these benches. Start in SC, then the world?

  36. Mei says:

    This is awesome! The cost of furniture always shocks be. This is a great way to re-purpose and get a one of a kind piece. πŸ™‚

    1. chrismithonline says:

      The old ticker has definitely gone into overdrive with pallet-based recreations. Luxury chicken coop and a table are my next projects!

  37. this is pretty nifty!!

  38. KayeKaye says:

    Love it!! I love recycled, refurbished, and repurposed stuff. This is great. I can’t wait for your next project. Thanks for taking the time to share this. You make me want to try it.

  39. Tiana Feng says:

    So colourful and cute! You make me want to go treasure hunting too πŸ™‚

  40. ronyshapira says:

    amazing post! I’m definitely going to go search the nearest dumpster πŸ™‚
    thanks for sharing!

  41. Brian says:

    Fantastic use of materials. I always love seeing discarded “trash” being reused in a creative way.

  42. I love all the stuff people are making out of Pallets, I have snagged me a few but am sure they will sit in my garage until the day I push them out to the trash. I tried for a nano second to pull one of the boards off. Its tough. Congrats on your FP

    1. Yes – the deconstruction is tough going. This is definitely where you ‘pay’ the price of free.

  43. Jody Thompson says:

    This is oh so fabulous! I love recycling stuff found in dumpsters and alleys. I found a really cute table in an alley that I painted and now use in y apartment. Free is good!

  44. 22workathome says:

    cool bench – Thanks!

  45. Coop Poop says:

    Wow!! 162 people liked this and 60 commented before I even had a chance to say thank you so much for taking time to explain how you constructed your bench. It’s awesome!! Very clever and brilliant!! Thanks!!!

  46. Nick says:

    β€” that’s Β£150 for a palette without any edits other than added wheels! I reckon you’re onto a winner πŸ™‚

  47. marycheshier says:

    Reblogged this on How 2 Be Green and commented:
    Upcycling, I love it!

  48. How to find a beautiful bench in the dumpster – MARK II – – this one is a simple one-beam, bench. Hope you like it!

  49. Travel inn says:

    Thanks for sharing. This tutorial will help me a lot because it is easy to follow.

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