How to Build an Outdoor Storage Bench

Money and Materials

This outdoor storage bench is mostly treated plywood, which stands up to the elements but can be unfriendly to work with. It’s often slightly damp, if not soaking wet, so let it dry in your shop for a week or two before cutting. Store it flat to minimize warping as it dries. Caution: Warped boards are dangerous to cut on a table saw. A circular saw with a cutting guide is a safer option.

I used TMW for the bench’s exterior, which drove up the cost to $600. Building the bench with cedar decking, which is rot-resistant, would cost $300. The least expensive choice is construction-grade pine ($100), which would give the bench a more rustic look. Plus: Here’s another outdoor storage bench you can build.

Thermally Modified Wood

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I chose thermally modified poplar for this bench. Normally, poplar would be a poor choice for an outdoor project, but thermal modification changes the rules. Thermally modified wood (TMW) has essentially been cooked, removing the organic compounds. The chemical-free process makes wood more stable and resistant to decay and insects.

This process naturally darkens the wood. Left unfinished, it will weather gray like any other wood.

The price of TMW varies. My supplier had pine for $1.25 per linear ft., poplar for $3.80 and ash for $4.20. To find TMW, ask your local hardwood lumberyard or search online.

Cutting List

Outdoor Storage Bench Cutting List

Outdoor Storage Bench Project Plans

outdoor storage bench project plans

Matching Planter

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The planter is even simpler to build than the bench because the inner box has no top or bottom. Glue and screw the sides together, screw in the diagonal braces and then paint any visible surfaces. Add the slats using the same method as for the bench. Position the side cleats at a height suitable to the pot you’re setting in the planter. Don’t attach the platform slats. If they rot, they’ll be easier to replace.

Planter Plans


Assemble the Box Sides

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Attach the corner posts (A) flush with the long edges and tops of the box ends (B). Glue and screw the sides (C) and ends together. Be sure to use a waterproof glue.

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