As we signed away our nomadic tendencies with the purchase of our first home, we decided it was high time we ditch our keyboard and get a legit piano for our oldest, who loves to play.
We found this scruffed up beauty for free on craigslist, which was anything but free after we paid to move it and tune it. Ha! If you have a piano, you’re probably knowingly nodding right now. 😉 We originally intended to paint it, but it’s charming patina has grown on us, so we’re keeping it as is for now. It didn’t come with a bench, which was fine by me. I couldn’t wait to DIY my own!
As recent transplants to the land of trees, a.k.a. the Pacific Northwest (PNW), I was giddy with excitement to see a couple local saw mills offer raw edge wood slabs on the cheap. They never seem to have slabs big enough for a big dining table, but I couldn’t help but snatch up a few smaller cedar slabs to use for things like this bench!
Of course, I know live edge wood slabs are probably not easy to come by everywhere and definitely not for cheap. You could totally adapt this tutorial and use plywood like I did for our dining table, or some stained pine. You could even recreate your own faux live edge like Hunted Interior did (here).
Wood piece at least 3/4 inches thick, 28 inches long and 16 inches wide*
Four hairpin legs **
Machine screws ( I used 8 screws, 5/8 inches long)
80 and 120 grit sandpaper (hand or mouse sander)
Poly-crylic and paintbrush
*My wood slab varied from 14-16 inches wide.
**For my legs, I ordered this bench off Amazon (affiliate link), ditched the top piece and just used the legs. They are not solid steel, but they have held up great and are very sturdy. The stool used to be around $30, and now it’s $40. Boo. Still, $10 (including shipping!) for 16″ high hairpin legs is at least $5-10 less than you can get elsewhere.
STEP ONE: Let your wood dry.
Live wood holds a lot of moisture, which is why it is so much heavier right after it’s cut. You need to let it dry out before you use it, so it won’t grow mold or rot. If you are using lumber from the store, it is likely already pretty dry. If you are getting it freshly cut, chances are you need to let it dry out for a month or two. Whomp, whomp. I know that can be a downer to hear that when you’re chomping at the bit to get it done, but trust me, it’s worth it to not have your wood warp, shrink and possibly rot later.
If your wood does grow mold on the surface, as it dries out, don’t worry! Clean it, and sand it away before it becomes too much of a problem. I had to do the same.
STEP TWO: Sand until smooth.
Using 80 grit sandpaper, sand away the bark (if you want) and all the major imperfections, top and bottom. Then go over the top with 120 grit until it feels smooth like butta…
The sides/ends of my wood slab have burn marks from the saw blade. You can sand those away, but I like them, so I kept them.
STEP THREE: Attach the legs.
Position the legs as desired, and screw them in with the locking washers and screws. If you need more instruction on this, I have another tutorial for a coffee table made in a similar fashion (here).
Be sure to get screws that are a just bit shorter than the width of your bench. Even then, the screws will be stacked up against the leg base and the locking washer.
TIP:My trick to using the power driver, if you are of small stature, like me :), is to lean in with your body weight while you drive the screws in. If you don’t, you risk stripping the screws. STEP FOUR: Clear coat the wood.
Of course, you can do this step before attaching the legs. I like to do this last, so that the bench already has it’s own legs to rest on while it cures.
Apply several coats of Poly-crylic, according to the can instructions, to the top and sides (I also like to get a little bit of the underside all the way around for good measure). I love Poly-crylic because it dries and cures so quickly with minimal off gassing!
Seeing the bench at our piano makes me so happy. I’m convinced, nothing could have complemented it’s worn character better than this bench. Match made in piano heaven. 🙂
Love this! Great tutorial, and I think the bench turned out beautifully. I enjoy your somewhat minimalistic pictures. So pretty! I completely understand about the free piano costing a whole bunch, but it sure came with a lot of character! 🙂 Do you mind sharing where you found your cord for the light bulb you have hanging down over the piano? I am on the hunt, ironically, for the same purpose. I teach piano lessons, and I need some additional light over the piano. 🙂
Thanks Kelli! It did and so that was worth it. 🙂
As for the cord light, it’s from IKEA actually! I think it was only like $10-15? So is the light bulb, but I don’t really recommend the light bulb as it is very dim. It’s really more decorative than anything. I just haven’t replaced it with anything else yet because we have bright can lights that do the job for now. I hope that helps!
That is really cool! I love all of the texture!
Thank you Charity! That’s what I was going for. If you look closely, there is a cool cross grain pattern throughout. Supposedly this kind of wood is also used for instruments. It felt fitting to use it for a piano bench! 😉
What a genius source for the hairpin legs! I have a set I’ve been thinking of doing nearly the exact same thing with, but they cost quite a bit more. And since I bought my wood pre-dried, I’m sure it cost more, too. Oh well, I’ll know for next time.
And welcome to the Pacific NW–all the rain is good for growing the trees we love so much. 😉
Thanks Rachel! 🙂 I know right? I wasn’t the first to stumble on it of course. I was looking at the bench itself, and while reading the comments, saw review after review about how people bought it just for the legs. They are hollow and much lighter than steel legs, but plenty sturdy for a bench. And yes, I actually don’t mind the rain too much, because I know it creates all this beauty! 🙂
Kadhja Bonet says
Thank you so much, it is so helpful !
Thanks!So glad you enjoyed the tutorial!