Modern Platform Bench | Build It | Ask This Old House

In this video, Tom Silva and Kevin O’Connor use strips of hardwood decking to create a slatted bench inspired by an iconic mid-century furniture design.

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Given the popularity of mid-century modern furniture, Tom Silva sensed a great Build It opportunity when his son showed him a reissue of the George Nelson platform bench. Tom saw that the clean lines of the elegant 1946 design were achieved with straightforward woodworking techniques: the bench top’s half-lapped strips would be easy work for a table saw and router. The legs’ trapezoidal shape might pose more of a challenge, but loose-tenon joinery could take care of that.

Instead of the birch used in the original, Tom chose to make the bench out of ipe decking, a dense hardwood that’s prized for its rich hue, knot-free surface, and durability. Its sawdust can irritate nasal passages, so he and Kevin O’Connor hooked up their tools to vacuums when sanding and cutting it.

It took them 4 hours to assemble this bench, with $100 in materials. Not a bad investment for a reproduction piece that normally retails for around $1,000 [].

Time: 4-5 hours
Cost: $40—$100
Skill Level: Hard

Table saw []
Miter saw []
Random-orbit sander []
Domino joiner []
Bar clamps []Bench chisel []
3-hp plunge router []½-inch up-cut router bit []
Rubber mallet [] or hammer []
Large rafter square []
Drill/driver []#8 countersink bit []
Track saw [] or Japanese flush-cut handsaw []

Shopping List:
1×3 ipe decking (about 40 linear feet) []
100- and 180-grit sandpaper []
4×20 mm Domino tenons []
Wood glue []
1¼-inch #8 Torx-head deck screws []

Where to find it?
Tom and Kevin built the bench out of ipe deck boards, which can be found at any home center. Tom liked the idea of ipe for the bench so it could be used for either an indoor or outdoor application.

To cut all the boards to the proper dimensions and assemble the bench, Tom used a variety of tools, including a Domino Joiner, a Kapex KS120 sliding compound miter saw, a TS 55 circular saw, which are all manufactured by Festool (, and an Industrial Table Saw from SawStop (

Tom and Kevin secured everything together using GRK #8 1-1/2” multi-purpose screws from GRK Fasteners ( and some wood glue from Gorilla Glue (

All of the other tools and materials Tom and Kevin used to build the bench can be found at home centers.

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Build It:
This Old House general contractor Tom Silva, This Old House host Kevin O’Connor, and special guests including Jimmy DiResta, take you through step-by-step DIY projects in this popular video series. From end-tables to cutting boards to wine racks to chicken coops and more, learn how to build from the best pros in the game. Segments include mention of all tools and materials needed to get the job done.

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Modern Platform Bench | Build It | Ask This Old House


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