Inspired by this description of a wooden DIY weights bench, I decided to make my own. Mine was way simpler, though; I used less wood but it’s much thicker so it’s still strong. This post includes photos of each step, but I won’t go into loads of detail – hopefully the images will speak for themselves.
But firstly, with regard to motivation for making this, let me quote from the link I mentioned:
Shopping for a weight bench can be difficult. And by difficult I mean expensive. And just to be clear, whenever I use the phrase “weight bench” I mean a strong one that can be used to Bench Press. The problem you’ll run into when buying these is that the reasonably priced ones are not rated to hold much weight. You’ll see figures like “300 lbs.” But when you consider that the bench has to hold your body as well, 300 lbs. is not much. If you weigh a measly 150 lbs. when you start, and bench press 150 lbs. That’s your 300 lbs. right there. This is novice level lifting. Once you turn into a real lifter after a few years of training, you’ll probably weigh closer to 200 lbs. yourself and be benching near 300 lbs. Now that’s 500 lbs. and all those affordable weight benches are now too weak for your purposes. But when you start pricing quality benches that are rated for this type of serious lifting, you are going to have to pay hundreds of dollars for them. This is unacceptable by Homemade Strength standards.
Before I get into how I made my bench, let me say I’ve tested it with a total mass of 250kg. That’s me (75kg – yes, I’m skinny) plus a friend (100kg) plus weights (75kg) all on top of it, in the middle. So it’s strong! However, you should always do what I’ve done and test your bench thoroughly before lifting weights on it. You don’t want it breaking when you’re holding your own body weight in cast iron above you. With that in mind, here are the details:
Standard sizes are 45cm high and 30cm wide. You can adjust these to suit yourself – you may want to make it shorter (if you’re short). Some people prefer it a little narrower. The length is 110cm – it needs to comfortably fit both your head and bum. 110cm is long enough for me and I’m 6’1″.
- Screws of various sizes, electric screwdriver
- Saw – probably a circular saw…I wouldn’t fancy cutting it all the old fashioned way
- Staplegun & staples for the upholstery (tacks are an alternative)
I used about 3 metres of timber measuring 50mm X 150mm. It’s really thick, heavy stuff: not like 2×4 at all. I had it lying around the garage. You can use whatever you have lying around as long as you’re sure it can hold the weight. When it comes to using it, go gently, and make sure you’re safe. If you’re not sure, then stop.
I had some left over MDF from my kitchen which was fitted last year, and I cut out two pieces of 30cm x 110cm x 12mm. The reason I need two will become clear later!
For the legs you’ll need another two pieces of 30cm x 30cm MDF. Read all the way through to see why these are needed.
Finally, I bought 4m of cheap wadding (polyester padding material). This probably wasn’t enough, it’s very thin. So my bench isn’t particularly comfortable. That doesn’t bother me. I also bought a metre of pleather (fake plastic leather) for about £8. It’s only a metre but it’s 140cm wide so that’s plenty.
The great thing about wooden construction is that you can change it later, or add more strength to it. I have the option of adding more legs to the middle of my bench for extra support if I ever go above the 250kg. When it’s complete you need to do some serious testing on this bench to make sure it’s up to the job before use. As I mentioned already, you really don’t want 100kg (or any amount) of weights crashing down on you during bench press when your bench breaks.
I’m a lightweight and I’m lifting light weights. You probably aren’t so your bench may need to be stronger.
Start by cutting the legs. They’re about 40cm long (total height will be more when the MDF top is added). Also cut the centre beam, it should be about 100cm long. Adjust these sizes to your preferences, the design is flexible. Feel free to double up on that centre beam.
Now I use my pieces of 30cm x 30cm MDF and screw them to the legs. This holds the legs together but also, the centre beam will rest on it. In this picture there’s only 4 screws in each; I actually ended up putting 10 in each.
This is how it fits together so far. Screw it together. You need some pretty long screws.
Here’s my two pieces of 30cm x 110cm MDF.
Then put the first piece of MDF on top, and screw it into the legs and beam. It’ll help hold the whole thing together. It’s way sturdier than it looks here. It’s really heavyweight and there’s no movement or wobble in the legs whatsoever.
Now, at this point, you may wish to do your testing and add additional legs to the middle if needs be! If you want to avoid doing testing and be conservative about, then just add more legs.
Here’s our bits so far: partially completed bench, leather, wadding, and the top piece of MDF.
Next up we’re doing the padding. Lay down your leather (upside down!) followed by the wadding, followed by the other piece of MDF:
Try and keep it as neat as possible, it’s awkward because it’ll try to move about. Allow the wadding to stick out of the edges so that it’ll wrap round the edges nicely. Staple one side first, then wrap the other size around carefully but tightly. Don’t rip it!
You should end up with something like this. I’ve trimmed off the excess because as you can see from the picture above, my piece of leather was way too big.
OK, now dump your bench on top, upside down:
And put a few small screws through the first layer of MDF to hold the second on. Don’t make the screws too long, you don’t want them coming through into your back!
As a final note, I need to reiterate, test it first. Test it by piling all of your weights on top of it, and then stand on it, and have a friend stand on it too, and if you hear any creaks (or it breaks…) then go back to square one!! I’m a lightweight and I’m lifting light weights so you may well need to add more legs to the middle your bench.