Portobello Buddhist Priory, a temple of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives
Zen Buddhism in Edinburgh, Scotland
- How to Make a Meditation Bench-
- A piece of wood, 1" x 6" x 31", preferably hardwood such as birch, alder or oak
Note: If you have a lot of trouble with your knees, you may want the bench an inch or two
higher, in which case you will need to take that into consideration when buying the wood
- 4 corner angleswith 2-3" legs and screws no longer than 3/4"
- 4 x 1½-2" no.6 or no.8 flathead woodscrews
OR 6 x no.10 penny finishingnails if you don't have a drill with a countersink bit
- A piece of 1" thick foam, 6" x 16½"
- A piece of material, 16" x 22", preferably black cotton polyester
- 12 upholstery tacks
- Glue (white or plastic resin)
- Varathane or plastic oil finish
- Tape measure, straight edge, pencil, saw, drill, screwdriver, sandpaper, scissors, hammer,
awl, paint brush
How to do it
Cut wood as indicated in fig.1
(Note: If you are making the bench higher, add 2" to the legs, making sure you cut them to
the same length; try it out for a while then cut the legs down later if necessary)
Mark off the width of the wood along the diagonal cuts on the legs. Saw down legs parallel to
the sides from this point to make them the same width as the seat (ie remove the hashed
Sand the wood to the desired finish, remembering that the centre part of the seat will be
Set the seat on top of the legs as shown in fig. 2.
If you don't have access to a drill with a countersink bit,
you can simply use 6 ten-penny nails, 3 on each side.
Put an even film of glue on the top edge of the legs and on
the corresponding place on the seat.
Hammer in the nails
If using woodscrews to attach the seat to the legs, pre-drill
and countersink the screws as shown in fig. 3.
Put screws in to make sure everything fits and screwheads
don't protrude above the surface of the wood. Remove the
screws and put an even film of glue on the top edge of the
legs and the corresponding place on the seat.
Screw the seat down tight.
Wipe off the excess glue, turn the bench over and put on the
corner angles (fig. 4), making a small hole with an awl to
start the screws.
Give the bench a touch-up sanding, especially round the
joints, wipe it off with a lint-free cloth.
Plastic oil sealer or an antique finishing oil also make an
The Professional Version
If you wish to enhance the looks of your bench you will need a bit more skill and time. in this
case you can set the legs into the seat with a "dado joint" 3/4" from the edge and use "blind
dowels", drilling the seat from the bottom and the legs from the top so that the dowels do
not show on top of the seat. You have to be very careful when marking and drilling this so
that the pieces match up well. With this method you can avoid the steel angle plates and
still have plenty of structural strength.
How to make the Cushion
Cut the material and foam to the size given under
"materials" and put the material on top of the foam.
Tuck the side edges of the material under the foam and
place both on top of the bench (fig. 5), centering it
Pull the top and bottom edges tightly under the seat,
folding the raw edges under, and tack the edges down
If the cushion moves around, tacks may be added on
top along the sides of the cushion.
This completes your meditation bench
Portobello Buddhist Priory