Convertible Bench




About: I like building things with wood - both new and reclaimed wood. Profesionally I work as an exhibition builder/designer. In my spare time I build stuff with reclaimed wood.

Intro: Convertible Bench

I decided to build a convertible bench.

I saw this once on the woodwhisperer channel on youtube and it was locked in the back of my mind to build one based on this idea.

When I was asked to build a bench suited for elderly people I decided to build a bench based on the convertible bench idea but change some of the dimensions to fit my project.

each pieces is made up of 3 individual pieces of 18mm plywood wich are then glued and screwed together to make it a single piece. The sides are made up of 4 individual pieces of 18mm plywood.


- 5 sheets of plywood (18mm, 3050mm*1220mm)

- 50mm screws

- woodglue

- sanding paper (p80-p120-p180-p320-p400)

- woodstain

- wood varnish

- aluminium pipe -- 48mm circle width, 5mm thickness, 2000mm long


- jigsaw

-router (with flush trim bit)

- impact driver

- varnishing brushes

Step 1: Templates

on the woodwhisperer website there is a link to some templates. I printed those and made those into my first templates (first of many). Once the templates are cut out in paper, I used some spraypaint to transfer the paper template onto wood.

Step 2: Cutting Out the Wooden Templates

after transferring the template on the plywood to get the plywood templates I was able to trace out all of the pieces on full sheets of plywood.

Step 3: Rought Cutting an Routing

after tracing all of the pieces on the plywood sheets, I used a jigsaw to roughly cut out the pieces.

I then used my template and screwed this to the rought cut pieces and used a flush trim bit on my router to get perfect copies of the template on all of the cut outs.

Step 4: Testfitting

after cutting out the first couple of pieces and routing them flush I decided to do a testfitting to see if this system would work.

the first problem I encountered was the weight of everything would be to much for the aluminium pipes to carry over the full lenght of the bench (which is 1960mm) so I had to make an extra support in the middle to level the weight of the bench.

the spacers between the seating are wooden "donuts" I made using a pockethole drill (first 96mm and then 48mm)

because the bench had to be easy to use for elderly people the height of the bench had to be raised to 550mm seating height. The main reason the seating is higher then most other seats (which are around 400/450mm seating height) is because elderly people can get back up easier after being seated when they can sit up higher.

Step 5: Testing the System

after cutting out and assembling all of the pieces I did another test fitting of the whole bench and tried out the variations.

Step 6: Height Adjustment and Sanding

I adjusted the height of the side and middle piece and could the start the proces of sanding, sanding, sanding, sanding,...a **** load of sanding...

Step 7: Woodstaining

after all of the sanding I still had to stain each pieces with some "dark oak" woodstain.

Step 8: Final Fitting

after staining all of the pieces I did one final test fitting before securing the end pieces with some heavy duty 2 component glue. I then put some tension on the bench and let everything dry overnight.

Step 9: Some Varnishing and Installing...

before installing the bench in place I tested out the different settings and gave the bench a coat of clear varnish.

some notes:

- don't take on this build thinking you have some time left and could quickly put this thing together - which was my mistake- this is a long build with a lot of cutting, routing and sanding

- I changed the "woodwhisperer" templates in 2 ways, my seating templates are 80mm shorter than his and my end templates are 140mm higher/longer then his templates

- the bench is 196cm long

- 72 single plywood seating templates have been cut out to make this bench

- end pieces and the middle pieces are another 11 single cut outs.

Furniture Contest 2017

Judges Prize in the
Furniture Contest 2017



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34 Discussions


8 months ago

I wonder how long it would take with a shop bot or equivelent cnc


9 months ago

Great design - I am just seeing the number of hours going into cutting and sanding all the pieces...

1 reply

Reply 9 months ago


The cutting and sanding was indeed the majority of the build.


10 months ago

"a **** load"

Why did you feel it necessary to censor out "a shed load"?

1 reply

Reply 10 months ago

probably a computer related problem, whenever I try to type **** it appears on the screen as ****, shedy, shedded, shedable is no problem, but ****... computer doesn't want to do it...


10 months ago

This is stunning! And so ingenious. I don't know if I'll ever be that ambitious, but I've saved this for future reference - just in case. Thanx for sharing.

1 reply

10 months ago

How stable are the arm rests when they are rotated down? Are they locked in at the rear secure enough for someone to bear weight on them when sitring and standing?

1 reply

Reply 10 months ago

the arm rests are indeed locked in at the back with the rear pipe, they are very stable, as for bearing weight, you can easily put 300kg (4people) on the bench without anything budging. I didn't do any more testing on this, the bench was rotated down completly and 4 people where sitting on it, the bench didn't my guess is 300kg is no problem


10 months ago

Beautiful....would love to make. What a great piece of furniture for the elderly and those of us right around the corner. If it's becomes uncomfortable while sitting. I can always add a bench seat pillow.

Thanks for sharing.

1 reply

10 months ago

This is a WOW!