Having a little great-niece that comes to visit on a regular basis I am inspired to try and make projects to entertain her. I have recently made a toddlers craft table so I needed a zebra bench to go with it.
I wanted to try something a bit more exciting but still simple enough to finish in a few hours. The main reason for a Zebra design just because I had the right colour paints in my shed.
How to make a bench
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Find a suitable image
I had already decided I wanted a zebra bench I just had to find a way to draw it. Not being very good at drawing pictures I had to try and find a way to get the small image that I had chosen to a much larger scale. Years ago I had used an overhead projector to blow the image up against the wall and trace around the image.
Now with new technology, you can buy a cheap mini projector that can transfer your image from a USB stick or a memory card onto the wall. I cut a piece of kraft paper and taped it to the wall and enlarge the image to the size that I wanted.
When choosing your image make sure that you pick an image that was all its feet on the floor so your bench will stand up straight. Once I had selected my image I use Lunapic which is a free software to mirror the image. The reason I did the mirror image instead of just cutting the same image out twice was to get the marking on the zebra for painting.
And a little tip. Do both at the same time so they are the same size. I used a large sheet of kraft brown paper and taped it to the wall and enlarged the image until I got the size I wanted. Mine was 63 Cm. Use an image that has all the feet on the floor so your bench will be stable.
I used a marker pen to go over the outlines and the details of the zebra. I have no talent when it comes to drawing so I needed to copy all the details to transfer over later.
Cut out the zebra bench
I cut out the image and taped it to my board using masking tape. I used an off-cut of form ply that I got from a construction site. It is very strong and suitable for this project but any wood or thick plywood will work.
I used a jigsaw and cut around the outlines. I noticed straight away that the wood was splintering.
Masking tape around the outlines stopped this from happening.
Once both were cut out I removed all the tape and used an orbital sander and 180 grit sanding discs to smooth off all the edges.
Make the back support
To make the bench and back support. I cut 1 x 100 cm x 25 cm for the bottom and for the backrest 1 x 100 cm x 15 cm.
Because the bench is for a toddler I removed all the sharp edges with a wood router and a round-over router bit. And then I used 180 grit sandpaper and sanded all the rough edges off. I did the same for the backrest.
Assemble the zebra bench
I clamped the two side pieces together and this was when I realised that mine was slightly out. I did one first and then packed my projector set up away and did the second later. So the projector had moved. (So do both at the same time). I marked a line where I wanted the seat to go.
And while both were clamped together I clamped them to a piece of straight edge wood. Then used the table saw to flatten the feet so it would be more stable.
Because I was making this up as I went along I had to find a way to add the bench seat and backrest and still look cute. I cut some support blocks to hold the seat and backrest. I did not have any thick wood, so I cut 4 strips of ply. The first one was 25cm which is the width of the zebra bench and I made the second one 18 cm. They can both be the same I just did not have any left.
The first one was glued on using wood glue and screwed into the inside of the side panel below the line I marked out. And then the second screwed into the first.
I pre-drilled the holes in the bench and backrest and used a Countersink Drill Bit to sink the holes to prevent any injury when in use.
I checked the seat was level, using a spirit level.
For the backrest. I leveled the support block and screwed it into the inside of the side Zebras.
Next, I clamped the backrest into place to make sure it was all level and looked how I wanted it to look.
Because of the shape of the bench, the back support needed to be higher. So choose your picture carefully. I then stripped it down into the 4 pieces so it would be quicker to paint.
Paint the zebra bench
I painted the whole bench in 2 coats of chalk paint. I only used chalk paint because that is what I had at home.
Transferring the zebra bench details
Now to transfer the image details over to the wood. I taped a few sheets of carbon transfer paper together to get a piece large enough to fit under my cardboard image.
I used a pen to go over the lines to get the guide outlines on my white paint.
With all the lines transferred it made it easier for me to paint
I used cheap acrylic paint to paint the rest. To seal all the paint in first I used clear acrylic spray. I used this first because I wanted to seal all the paint first. Past experience has shown me the colours will run when you run a paintbrush or roller over it. Lastly, I used 2 coats of clear polyurethane.
The zebra bench was screwed and glued back together once the paint was dry. And Ta- Da finished !!!
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Steav SmithSeptember 23, 2018 at 5:07 am
Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m inspired!
Very useful info particularly the remaining part 🙂 I deal with such info a Lot. I was looking for this particular info for a very lengthy time.
Thanks and good luck.
RGAugust 20, 2019 at 4:25 pm
You are the best great Aunt on the planet! Kudos!
Anita HollandAugust 23, 2019 at 6:49 am
Thank you so much for the great compliment.
Lydia C. LeeAugust 26, 2019 at 8:43 pm
That looks fantastic but way to complicated for me!
Anita HollandAugust 26, 2019 at 11:04 pm
Thank you, looks harder than it is.
Felicity FrankishAugust 27, 2019 at 9:39 am
This is the cutest bench ever! What a great idea 🙂
Anita HollandAugust 27, 2019 at 10:34 am
Thank you so much, she really loves it.
KristieAugust 31, 2019 at 2:26 pm
I am impressed by your use of the projector to create large patterns, how you used router to make everything smooth, and the level! Great job! #littlecottagelinkparty
Anita HollandSeptember 2, 2019 at 11:26 am
Thank you so much.
Dee | Grammy's GridSeptember 1, 2019 at 7:53 am
How cute! Thanks so much for linking up at the #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 4. Shared.
Anita HollandSeptember 2, 2019 at 12:35 pm
JulieSeptember 1, 2019 at 9:53 am
How cute, what a clever way to transfer the image.
Anita HollandSeptember 2, 2019 at 12:37 pm
Thank you, I used to do it this was years ago using an overhead projector to do murals on the kid’s bedroom walls. It works great if you can’t draw like me.
DinaSeptember 1, 2019 at 10:57 pm
Wow, great projects, the bench and the table. I’m sure kids love it.
Anita HollandSeptember 2, 2019 at 12:39 pm
Thank you so much, if I was a kid I would want one. lol
JenniferSeptember 3, 2019 at 5:48 am
Thanks for sharing at the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home! –Jennifer
Anita HollandSeptember 3, 2019 at 11:22 am
You are welcome
Condo BluesSeptember 4, 2019 at 1:49 pm
Your bench is adorable!
Anita HollandSeptember 5, 2019 at 7:47 am
Thank you so much.
MarieSeptember 4, 2019 at 2:03 pm
This bench is so ADORABLE! My grandson would squeal with delight if he got one of these. Thanks for the detailed tutorial. Christmas is coming 😉
Anita HollandSeptember 5, 2019 at 7:49 am
Thank you, Marie, My niece was so excited when she saw it, it was so cute to watch her. That is why I make so much for her.
MichelleSeptember 4, 2019 at 11:55 pm
The zebra bench is so cute! I had no idea that the overhead projector could be replaced by the mini projector. What a cool upgrade! I bet your niece will be tickled with her new bench!
Thanks for linking up to Creative Compulsions!
Anita HollandSeptember 5, 2019 at 7:51 am
Thank you so much. Yes, they are amazing, the one I have you can use and image from your phone or a memory card. We watch movies on our phone and blow it up onto a wall so we can all watch when we are away on holiday.
Debbie-DabbleSeptember 9, 2019 at 12:49 am
OMG!! This is adorable!!
Anita HollandSeptember 9, 2019 at 11:54 am
Thank you so much.