Introduction: Convertible Bench

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of Woodstaining

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

Step 8: Final Fitting

Picture of 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...

Picture of 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.


veryrealperson (author)2017-12-28

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

BenjaminT75 (author)2017-11-28

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

Dvda2108 (author)BenjaminT752017-11-29


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

JörgenBörg (author)2017-11-26

Mooi gemaakt, landgenoot!

Dvda2108 (author)JörgenBörg2017-11-26


zzzzzzzzzzzzz (author)2017-11-21

Complètement génial !!!

Dvda2108 (author)zzzzzzzzzzzzz2017-11-22


Missie30innc (author)2017-10-30

This is really cool

Dvda2108 (author)Missie30innc2017-11-06


shallnot (author)2017-10-26

"a **** load"

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

Dvda2108 (author)shallnot2017-10-26

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...

jeanneambro (author)2017-10-26

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.

Dvda2108 (author)jeanneambro2017-10-26


nearboston (author)2017-10-26

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?

Dvda2108 (author)nearboston2017-10-26

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

ajayt7 (author)2017-10-26

Wow! Great inspiring project!

Dvda2108 (author)ajayt72017-10-26


hammer9876 (author)2017-10-26

I really like the versatility and the lines of this. Two statements:

Arm rests are really useful in helping the elderly out of chairs. I am not sure if your arm rests are tall enough to help. I would love to hear from nurses or physical therapists who helps patients up out of chairs. Then I wonder if a bit a tweaking would help.

It looks like when someone sits down he can flip an arm rest down and have a drink holder, but I can't really visualize it. That would mess up the lines on the fully flat bench variation, right?

Dvda2108 made it! (author)hammer98762017-10-26

see the picture, this is how the bench looks when turning some of the pieces to provide support or to use as drinkholder.

as for the design for the elderly, the seating area of the bench is at 550mm height, main reason for this, adviced by local physio therapist, is that is keeps the blood flowing through the legs better then seats at regular (400-450mm) height, also it makes it easier for people with a stroler to make their way to this bench and sit down and get up more easily then with a normal bench. of course this is a theory, I will probably update this instructable in a month or 2 when the bench has been in use to tell everyone the pro's and con's of the bench as said by those who use it.

brendadawg1 (author)2017-10-26

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.

Dvda2108 (author)brendadawg12017-10-26


Lovetra (author)2017-10-26

This is a WOW!

Dvda2108 (author)Lovetra2017-10-26

thank you!

mickeypop (author)2017-10-26

I really like it and likely will make one but only 1 section. I think the size would be more practical.

I have a question though;

How did you secure the ends of the pipes to the bench ends since they don't show how?

You left that part out.

Dvda2108 (author)mickeypop2017-10-26

well, imreprobate has the right idea, if you look at step 2 you can see that the end pieces have 2 holes, as the end pieces are made up of 4 individual pieces of plywood this means that the 3 pieces on the inside of the bench have 2 48mm holes in them, but the outer pieces doesn't have any holes. this to make sure the pipes don't move when the bench is assembled. the actual securing was done by filling those holes with some 2-component heavy duty glue, assembling the bench and using some straps to keep the whole bench on tension during the setting of the glue. (step 8)

imreprobate (author)mickeypop2017-10-26

My guess is a 'Blind hole'...the hole only passes through some of the wood and the last lamination (or two) does not have the requisite hole as in the other pieces. the middle lamination would have a larger hole to allow for a pin or bolt passing through the pipe to keep the entire rig together. Just guessing but that is how I would secure it.

matthewgal (author)2017-10-24

Wow.. that's Great

Dvda2108 (author)matthewgal2017-10-26

thank you!

AMbros Custom (author)2017-10-25

great job dude.

Dvda2108 (author)AMbros Custom2017-10-26

thanks man!!

theartfulbirder (author)2017-10-25

This is a great idea and it looks really neat! Is there anything that holds the pieces into place? I'm wondering if I sat at the edge of the seat would it start to dip forward?

Dvda2108 (author)theartfulbirder2017-10-25

well, both aluminium pipes work together, the first pipe is where the seats rest on, the second pipe insures that the pieces can't dip foreward or backward. you have to lift up the pieces to change it's direction. so the bottom pipe makes sure each piece stays in it's position.

theartfulbirder (author)Dvda21082017-10-25

Ah that makes sense, I figured there would be some sort of method to keep them in place. Thanks for sharing!

mrsmerwin (author)2017-10-24

It looks beautiful. Is it comfortable?

Dvda2108 (author)mrsmerwin2017-10-24

comes down to a personal opinion of what you feel is comfortable...because of it's height and the fact that this bench is specially designed for elderly people as a resting point, it's comfortable enough to sit on, but you're not going to fall asleep on's not "falling asleep on the couch" comfortable.

mrsmerwin (author)Dvda21082017-10-24

I can sleep a lot of places. Now all to need find is someone to build it for me. Maybe someday.

About This Instructable




Bio: 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 ... More »
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