When I say I’ve been dreaming about building this DIY bench for years, I mean it. For the past few years, any time I would walk into Pottery Barn in search of inspiration or anytime I scrolled through Instagram and came across this bench, I said “oh I want to build that someday”
Well someday finally came and I built the seagrass bench of my dreams! We’re using this bench at the end of our bed, but it would also work great as a substantial entryway bench.
This was my first woven seagrass project, so I’ll share some weaving tips I picked up along the way.
Alright, let’s dive in and start DIYing this beautiful woven bench!
How to Build a Woven Bench
- Miter Saw (we use this blade with ours)
- Kreg Jig (not sure which to get? Check out which Kreg Jig to get in 2023)
- Rubber Mallet
- Kreg 90-Degree Driver (optional, but highly recommended)
- Measuring Tape (new to DIY? Be sure to check out this post with measuring tips)
- Safety Equipment
- 8 – 2x2x8s (we used select pine)
- 1 – 1/2” square dowel (we need less than 5”, so the smaller the piece you can get, the better)
- Seagrass (we used about 12.5lbs of #2 – 5/32” seagrass)
- Wood glue (this is our favorite type)
- Fabric Stiffener
- Sandpaper (120, 180, and 220 grit)
- 1.25″ softwood Kreg screws
- Cardboard (keep those leftover Amazon boxes to stuff your bench with)
This bench is perfect for the foot of a California King or King bed. It would also work great as a long entryway bench! Its final dimensions are 64” W x 20” D x 24” H.
Prefer printable plans? Grab them here!
STEP 1: MAKE THE CUTS
Make your cuts according to the cut list in the printable plans.
STEP 2: DRILL POCKET HOLES
The basic structure of this bench is created with glue and pocket holes. Using the ¾” settings, drill (2) pocket holes on both ends of all of your pieces except for the (6) legs. In the short leg, you will need (2) pocket holes on one end of the leg to secure it to the frame.
STEP 3: SAND
If you get select pine 2x2s like we did, they are generally already in great shape. We sanded with 150 grit sandpaper to knock down the yellow and to remove any splintered edges from cutting. Then we sanded everything again with 220 grit sandpaper to prepare for stain.
If you don’t want the end grains of the legs pieces to stain darker than the rest of the structure, sand them further with 400 and then 600 grit sandpaper. This will reduce the absorption of the stain into the end grain, resulting in a color that is much closer to the sides of the legs.
The top of each of the legs will be visible once the bench is assembled. The end grains of all of the other pieces don’t really matter as they won’t be seen once assembled.
STEP 4: STAIN
For this project, we used a pre-stain wood conditioner and then used Minwax Gel Stain in Aged Oak. It’s a beautiful color and I’m really happy with how it turned out for this project! I’d say it very closely matches the inspiration photos!
You can also stain after assembling the main structure if you prefer–just be sure to stain before adding the seagrass.
Personally I chose to stain first because I wanted to see how each of the individual pieces stained. Most of the pieces will be covered with seagrass, so I wanted to hand select the pieces that stained the best to be used as the most visible pieces.
Though my pieces ended up staining very evenly, pine can often be really blotchy when stained, so this allows me to pick the best ones. It would be sad if the ones that got covered up accepted the stain beautifully while the visible ones were splotchy!
STEP 5: ASSEMBLE THE BACK
Layout all of your pieces on the ground how you want to assemble them. The supports along the bottom of the bench are what will be visible, so pick the prettiest pieces to go there. Then pick the two prettiest long legs to be the front legs.
Next we’re going to mark all of the legs for where all the back and side supports will go. I opted to use tape for this step so that I didn’t get pencil marks on my already stained boards.
Mark 4.5” from the bottom and then mark 2 ¼”, 6 ½”, and 11” from the top. The bottom of your boards will be lined up with these marks.
Assemble the first side of the back using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. You’ll secure a leg to either side of (4) back supports. We found it easier to attach the top board with the pocket holes facing up and then the remaining boards with the pocket holes facing down. You’ll want to work from top to bottom when installing the supports.
For the second side of the back, you’ll secure the (4) back supports to just one leg using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. Once assembled, you’ll attach this piece to the middle leg.
We used our normal Kreg drill bit for the majority of the pocket holes but did break out our Kreg 90-degree driver to secure the 2nd support from the top to the second leg.
If you don’t have a Kreg 90-degree driver, you can rotate the 2nd support from the top 90-degrees so that the pocket holes are facing the back of the bench. Then you can drive in the pocket hole screws with the normal drill bit. The space between the 2nd and 3rd supports gets tight, which is why we had to switch to our 90-degree driver. The pocket holes on the 2nd support will get covered up by the seagrass, so they shouldn’t be visible in the end.
STEP 6: ATTACH THE SIDES
Line up your side supports at the same height as your back supports and secure them to the outside legs using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws.
STEP 7: ATTACH THE FRONT
First attach the seat front to the two front legs using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. The bottom of the seat front should be 13” from the bottom of the leg.
Then secure the side supports to the front of the legs using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. Again, we used our 90-degree driver for the second to from the top side supports because the space was narrow.
At the end of this step, you’ll have 5 loose pieces. That’s correct. We’ll attach the final pieces once the seagrass is on. We can’t install the front leg yet since we need to be able to wrap the entire front with seagrass.
Note: in the pictures, we did install the middle bottom support board prior to weaving the seagrass, but in hindsight, I would’ve waited. In the remainder of the tutorial, we’ll share as if we had not attached it prior to weaving.
At this point, it’s probably a good idea to seal your bench. We didn’t seal it until the end because I was way too eager to start weaving/to know if achieving this look was even possible with no prior weaving experience. I did the trial work for you and can confirm that you can do this!
STEP 8: WEAVE THE SEAGRASS
Before you start weaving the bottom of the bench, it’s imperative to add a temporary support board to the middle of the bench to prevent it from collapsing in as you weave. Ask me how I know…
We didn’t realize this was going to be an issue, so we didn’t originally add it in. It was in our plan, but we weren’t going to attach it until we installed the bottom front leg.
If I could go back, I would add it in before I started weaving the bottom entirely. If you do this, you’ll have to make sure that you always put the string above the support board as you work from side to side or else you’ll accidentally get it tangled up.
If you’re worried you’ll get it tangled, you can add it in after you finish the side to side weaving and before you do the figure 8s. I do think I lost a little bit of tightness in my bench sides by doing it this way though.
Weaving the Arms
We started with the arms because they felt less intimidating. Clamp a scrap piece of wood to the top of the bottom seat. I discovered this to be such a timesaver. Instead of your seagrass falling all the way to the floor and unraveling and getting tangled, the board makes the fall much shorter so it stays more intact.
Unfortunately the whole seagrass bundle that we purchased doesn’t quite fit between the slats, so we had to cut the bundle in half. You want to keep it as big as you can so that you can minimize the amount of knots in your bench. Knots aren’t that hard to hide, but it messes with your weaving when you get into a groove.
You can also loop your seagrass around a scrap piece of wood like we discuss in the “weaving the bench bottom” step.
To start, you can staple the seagrass to the inside of one of the arm pieces, or you can loop the seagrass around the arm and tie a knot. We opted for the latter because we didn’t have the right staples.
If you opt to tie it around, make sure it’s nice and tight and that your knot faces towards the middle section of the arms. This will make it easier to hide. If you start your knot on the bottom arm piece, that means having the knot positioned on the top of that piece.
Once you have your piece in place, you’ll start weaving in a figure 8 pattern. Up and around the top arm piece, through the middle, and then around the bottom arm piece. Go back through the center and repeat.
So if you start at the bottom you’ll loop around the outside of the top piece, back through the center and then around the outside of the bottom piece. Make sure you pull nice and tight as you make each of these loops.
When you get to the end of your seagrass strand, you’ll attach the next seagrass strand with a simple knot. You want to try to position the knot so that it’s near the middle of the arm. It’s easier to hide knots and kind of weave them behind the strands on either side of it.
As you’re weaving, push your seagrass over after every 3-5 loops to make sure it’s tight and to reduce gaps. You’ll also want to make sure that your seagrass isn’t overlapping any existing strands. It should be right next to the strand next to it, not overlapping.
When you get to the end of the arm, pull the final strand tight and then weave into the strands that you just wove.
I thought I would need to staple it to finish it, but it was so tight that it stayed without a staple.
Weaving the Bench Bottom
Weaving the bench bottom isn’t as complicated as you might expect, but it does require a lot more movement as you have to work from side to side on the bench.
To start my seagrass, I tied it in a knot around the front right side of the seat. This route does get in the way since you have an additional loop around one side, so after I had woven about 4-5 times, I cut off the loop from the knot and pushed the rest of my seagrass over so the first loop was snug against the front leg. Since the rest was so tight, it didn’t unravel. You can also staple the seagrass to the inside of the bench to start it.
To weave, you’ll go over the right side and back to the middle. Then loop around the front and back to the middle. Then around the back and back to the middle. Finally over the right side again and back to the middle.
Then you’ll go over to the left side of the bench. When weaving, you’re always going OVER whatever side then and looping it around back to the middle. So the pattern is: right, front, back, right, left, back, front, left, repeat.
I promise once you do it once or twice, it’ll make sense. You just go where it naturally makes sense to next!
You’ll work one side at a time (right, front, back, right) and wrap it loosely around these four areas. Then set your remaining string down and go back to tighten everything. Pull the right loop tight. Then pull the front loop tight. Then the back and then the final right loop.
Once you have all four areas tight, clamp the last string that you tightened and then pull your extra seagrass across the bench to the other side to begin the weaving pattern over there.
Keep working back and forth, keeping a clamp on each side as you work to keep things tight. We used these Irwin quick grip clamps.
As you’re working on this, the corners tend to want to overlap and roll onto each other as you pull tightly in another direction. Make sure everything stays flat.
After every 3-4 passes, go around and press all of your strands over to minimize gaps.
As you’re working, you may also want to occasionally measure the remaining distances to ensure everything is straight and even. I didn’t do this and ran into a bit of a sticky situation at the end trying to fully cover one side while the other side was already covered.
Continue weaving this pattern until both sides are fully wrapped. This is going to be the most time consuming part of the weaving process. Once you get past this, it becomes much quicker!
Once you get the sides fully wrapped, you can move directly onto weaving figure 8s. Instead of looping back and then to the side, you’ll just loop front back to front, in the same figure 8 pattern that we used for the arms.
Since this is a bigger distance than the arms, I clamped every piece after I looped it around the front. It challenged my grip strength at the end as my hand got more tired, but the clamp helped keep things tighter than I think I could’ve on my own.
Keep weaving until you reach the back middle leg.
Connecting Two Pieces
Any time you run low on seagrass and need to attach two pieces, you’ll simply tie the old piece of seagrass to the new with a knot.
The key here is that you want to make sure that the knot is on the bottom of the bench so that it’s not visible. Sometimes that means “wasting” a little bit of seagrass, but it’s worth it for a polished look!
Stuffing Bench Bottom with Cardboard
As you get closer to closing off the sides of the bench, grab some cardboard and cut it into triangles that will fit in your woven area.
The goal of the cardboard is to help your bench preserve its shape over time. Add enough cardboard that your seagrass seems supported. Some areas may require two or three layers of cardboard.
What if my seagrass bundle doesn’t fit or unravels?
If your seagrass bundle is getting knotted, unraveling, or just doesn’t fit between the bottom of the bench and the arm pieces, you can do what we did.
We used a scrap piece of ½” plywood that had a cut in it to re-ravel our seagrass. We placed the end of the seagrass in the cut section. This held the end tight so that it was easier to wrap. If you don’t want to cut your scrap wood, that’s okay. You can just tape the seagrass end in place.
Wrap your seagrass around the scrap piece of wood for as long as you can, making sure it doesn’t get too thick where it can’t pass through the gap.
STEP 9: WEAVE AROUND THE MIDDLE POST
Once you get to the middle of the bench, you need to add a bump out in order to actually weave the middle section since the back leg is in the way.
To create the middle bump out, we cut two pieces of 2x2s to be about ¼” thick. It doesn’t need to be precise, just make sure the two pieces are roughly the same thickness and it’s slightly larger than the thickness of your seagrass.
Then cut a square dowel piece to be between 3-4.75” long. Again, this does not need to be precise because this piece won’t be visible.
Glue the dowel to the 2x2s, leaving at least a 1.5” gap between the 2x2s. Let the glue dry for at least 30 minutes.
Then glue this piece to the center of your bench. One of the 2x2s should slide underneath the already woven section and the other 2×2 should be on the other side of the back leg. Clamp this in place and let it dry overnight. You need to make sure you let the glue cure to create a strong bond before adding the pressure of the seagrass.
Before we can weave this area, we need to move over the support board slightly. You can either cut a second support board that’s the same size and place it a few inches from the center of the bench or you can use a rubber mallet to inch the support board over so that it’s out of the way.
Once you get that moved over, you can weave the center section. Instead of looping around the back of the bench, you’ll weave the strand through the gap between the dowel and the back leg.
Since you can’t weave your big board through this middle section, you’ll just have to feed the seagrass strand through. I ended up having about 3 knots in this middle section because it’s faster/easier to tie more knots than it is to weave a super long string without it getting tangled.
Once you get to the end of the middle leg, you can go back to weaving around the back. Weave around the back and front a few times (3-5) before moving onto the next step.
STEP 10: ADD THE MIDDLE LEG
Now that we’ve made it past the middle, we can add in our front middle leg and permanently secure the middle support board.
First secure the bottom support to the front leg with glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. The bottom support will sit 4.5” up on the leg.
Next secure the bottom support to the back leg, again placing it 4.5” up.
Then secure the front leg to the bottom of the top using 2.5” Kreg screws. You may need a friend to help push down the front leg so that it sits in line with the frame piece that’s underneath the seagrass.
Finally, secure the middle support to the front and back leg using 2.5” Kreg screws. This is going to be the most difficult part. The bench should be really tight on the support board, so you’ll definitely need a rubber mallet to get in place.
STEP 11: FINISH WEAVING
Now that we’ve made it past the middle section, you can continue your figure 8 weaving pattern for the bottom of the bench. Keep weaving until you get to the end.
Once we made it to the end, we clamped the final string on the front of the bench to keep it tight and then looped and weaved it between several pieces on the bottom of the bench. I had my doubts that this would stay well, but it has – even after we’ve sat on the bench!
STEP 12: ADD THE FINAL PIECES
You can definitely add these pieces when you’re adding the middle legs if you want to. We decided to wait because having more bars to work around means more potential chances that you accidentally loop your seagrass around something that shouldn’t be wrapped.
We used our multi-mark tool to mark 4.5” from the bottom of each of the front legs and set up our clamps to help hold the legs in place while we screwed them in.
Secure both front leg supports with glue and 2.5” Kreg screws.
STEP 13: ADD FABRIC STIFFENER
A day or two after finishing up my bench, I went to Parade of Homes and one of the homes was staged with the “real” version of this bench at the end of the bed. I was so excited and did a close-up inspection of it to see how it compared to mine.
Upon closer look, I realized that all of the strings were covered in glue! They had put it on so heavy that in several places, you could see the white glue between the strings. That gave me an idea…what if I used fabric stiffener to make my strings a little flatter?
I’m happy to report that it worked! Look at the before and after of the bench. Pictures don’t really do it justice. It made a big difference, especially around the middle section.
For this step, I used weights (1-3lbs) and scrap pieces of wood to hold the seagrass down while the fabric stiffener dried. I split the bench into about 10 different sections for this step. The more weights/scrap wood you have, the larger the section you can do at one time.
Start by painting on the fabric stiffener. Then pull the strands tight. Place a weighted piece of scrap wood on the strands while they dry.
For the areas that are already tighter, just one weight near the center of the bench will suffice. For the areas that are looser, you may need 2-3 to help keep it flattened.
We let ours dry for about 30 minutes before moving onto the next section. The good thing about the fabric stiffener is that it’s not glue. The weights or the wood won’t get stuck to the seagrass while it’s drying!
There you have it! Now you know how to build your very own woven seagrass bench! This designer look has been on my wishlist for so long. With very sore hands and a satisfied heart, I am very proud to say that “I made that!
If you’re ready to start building your own woven bench too, be sure to scoop up the printable plans.