I Built That!

How to Make a Milking Bench You’ll Love Forever

Hello Friends,

Raise your hand if you would love to have a milking bench custom-made to fit your space?

I know I do. 

And immediately knew I could make it happen after seeing one my friend built. If you visit her blog (the link is at the bottom of this post), you’ll see that my bench is actually a mix (with a twist) of the two benches she shares in her post. Proof positive that it’s super easy to create the look and size you want with a minimum of fuss and muss.


How to Make a Milking Bench You’ll Love Forever

Two colors for Spring 2017 are turquoise and mustard | Learn how to easily refinish an old wicker chair and build a milking bench to fit your space | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

Step 1: Determine Size and Shape

To start, measurement your space. Once you’ve determined the optimum height, length, and depth for the bench, other details are easily decided.

For example, this bench is about 36-inches long and about 18-inches high. Yes, it is a bit long and high for an old-fashioned milking bench, but I wanted to use it as a coffee or side table so 18-inches is the best choice.

The bench also needed to be narrow, so the maximum width measures in at just over 9 inches.

Armed with these measurements, I am off to the home improvement store.

Milking benches can be made to fit your space and painted in a color that matches your decor | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

Step 2: Purchase Supplies

Wood – Pine

One 8- foot long 1-by-10 is cut into 4 pieces by the home improvement store. 

  • One 36-inch piece for the top

  • One 24-inch piece for the lower shelf insert

  • Two 18-inch pieces for the sides (legs)

One 6-foot long 1-by-4 is cut into 2 pieces by the home improvement store.

  • Two 36-inch pieces for the sides (aprons)


Wood screws – It is good to discuss the project with the expert at the home improvement center so that the correct number and size screws for your custom-sized bench are chosen. For the size and height of my bench, 18 (2-inch) wood screws with a flat-head work beautifully. But, based on your bench design, you may need more or less —or even a different size.


  • Sandpaper (80-100 grit to buff away splintered wood and 220 grit to smooth before painting)

  • Wood putty

  • Paint and/or stain – I used Fusion Mineral Paint in the color Mustard.

  • Paint brush

Pieces of wood for making a milking bench are cut at the home improvement store | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

Step 3: To Round or Not to Round

The side aprons can be left with square edges, but can also be rounded for a softer look. To round out the edges, place a circle (I used a pot lid) on the wood and mark the curve with a pencil. The wood is cut using a jig saw and then sanded smooth.

Learn how to easily make rounded edges for the milking bench side aprons | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

Step 4: Assembly Begins

Assembly begins by attaching the top to the side (apron) pieces. 

  • Drill pilot holes through the top and into the apron pieces.

  • On the top, use a countersink drill bit to hull out the wood so that the screws “sink” below the surface of the wood.

  • Insert wood screws through the top and screw them into the apron pieces.

Wood screws are countersunk into the top of the wood so that the screw can be hidden during the finishing process | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

Step 5: Make and Attach Legs

To make the legs, first flip the top over (assembled in Step 4) and measure the inside distance between the two apron sides. Then measure this distance across the two legs and trim away the excess wood. 

The legs for the milking bench are made by fitting wood between the apron sides | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

Next, cut notches out of the bottom of each leg.

Notches at the bottom of the milking bench legs add visual interest | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

Then attach the legs using the assembly directions in Step 4.

  • Insert two wood screws through the top and into each leg. This will use 4 screws.

  • Insert one wood screw through the side apron and into the leg at two places on each side. This will also use 4 screws.

The milking bench legs are fitted between the aprons and secured with screws | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

Step 6: Attach Lower Insert Shelf

Trust me when I tell you that an old-fashioned milking bench doesn’t usually ever have a lower shelf. But this milking bench does! Remember, it’s being used as a coffee or side table so a little extra storage is always welcome. AND the lower shelf adds more stability to the overall structure. So for my home needs, this is a win-win.

Anyway, to attach the insert shelf, insert two screws through the leg and into the insert shelf at each end. This will use 4 screws.

A lower shelf is inserted between the legs to add more storage and overall stability | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

Step 7: Apply Finish

  • Cover the screw heads with your favorite wood putty and allow to dry.

  • Sand over the wood putty and over the entire piece until smooth.

  • Stain or paint according to your preference.

Any milking bench can be custom-sized and detailed to fit your needs and home decor | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

Interesting that the saw at the home improvement store didn’t provide a clean-cut on the soft pine, but no worries because I used this to an advantage. All of the splinters were removed and the piece was sanded smooth, but I was careful to protect the imperfections the saw made in the wood. To me, they seemed to add an old-fashioned charm.

Imperfections in the wood can provide added charm | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

The paint color is the same as the basecoat on the wicker chair and the mustard stripe on the seat cushion.

A custom-sized milking bench for this sunroom is used as a side or coffee table | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

Turns out, the milking bench is mainly used as a side/coffee table for laptops and other electronics. Although it can be easily dragged around the sunroom to accommodate two people using it at the same time, it is usually a side table for one.

The sunroom refresh for Spring includes custom-sizing a milking bench to use as a side or coffee table | The Chelsea Project | www.thechelseaproject.com

So if you’d like to save this super easy building plan, please…


Associated links:

To learn about the wicker chair refresh, please click here.

To see the inspiration milking benches from the blog, Southern Revivals, please click here.







  • Reply Carolann February 26, 2017 at 10:06 am

    I am so impressed Susie! This bench turned out perfectly! What a fun project. I’d love to tackle it someday for sure. It looks so beautiful paired with your gorgeous wicker chair <3

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 26, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Thanks Carolann. It really is a fun and easy project. It would look super cute on your patio! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply Leah February 27, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Thank you for the simple and clear directions. I am going to build this bench and l have never buildt any thing ever. I will let you know how it goes..so looking forward to this.

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 27, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      Just take the pieces to the home improvement store if you have any questions. I’ve done that before and it helped so much! Good luck, Leah! Looking forward to seeing your fab bench!

  • Reply Marie|The Interior Frugalista February 27, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I love how your milking bench has that bottom shelf and can be used as an end|coffee table. Don’t get me started on the gorgeous color that pairs so well with the turquoise accent colors you have in the room. Thanks for the tutorial – pinning.

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 27, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks Marie! I’m totally loving my mustard/turquoise phase. LOL…

  • Reply Angie ~ ambientwares February 27, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    This is great! The way you built it is straightforward and clear. The color is perfection! Pinning & sharing 🙂

    • Reply theChelseaProject February 27, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      Thanks Angie! You are the best!! XO

  • Reply Nancy @ Slightly Coastal February 28, 2017 at 8:47 am

    What a great project! I love a milking bench used as a coffee table or foot rest. This is such a versatile piece of furniture. Look at you with your woodworking skills and all. It looks great with that mustard color!


    • Reply theChelseaProject February 28, 2017 at 9:15 am

      Hi Nancy and thanks! Well, I wouldn’t call them woodworking skills as much as assembly skills —you know —like a Lego kit. LOL…Thanks so much for stoppning by!

  • Reply Carolann March 2, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Susie, I’ve been thinking about how much I love this color! My next project for sure! It’s so beautiful I love it!

    • Reply theChelseaProject March 2, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks CArolann. It really is a nice neutral. Fresh and unique, but neutral, too.

  • Reply Sue March 2, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    I heard everyone is talking about this milking bench – well, it looks like a hit on Instagram

    • Reply theChelseaProject March 2, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      LOL.. I don’t know about that, Sue —but thanks. I can tell you that it is simple enough for beginners, so that might be fueling the fun.

  • Reply michelle james March 3, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Susie this bench is so perfect. I love the size, shape and the paint color you used. It looks so nice next to thathe wicker chair. Nice job as always!! Love this entire blog.

    • Reply theChelseaProject March 3, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks Michelle. You always make my day!

  • Reply Cristina@remodelandolacasa March 10, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Love this bench! I’m obsessed with little benches and step stools so, this sure is going to my to do list. And hey, I love your instructions, I’m better with visuals than numbered plans!

    • Reply theChelseaProject March 10, 2017 at 11:44 am

      Thanks Cristina. I also whipped up a milking bench that is hot pink. I mean hooooooottttt pink. It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys. I’ll try to get it in a post soon. Thanks also for the feedback about the instructions. It’s good to know that adding lots of photos during the building process is helpful. Looking forward to seeing your bench.

  • Reply Toni | Small Home Soul April 10, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Thank you for the plans, my grandma had a little stool like this in her kitchen for years that we would sit on or stand on to “roast” marshmallows over her old gas stove. I’ve been wanting to make one and I think I’ll use your plans to make a little bench for my new front porch 😀

    • Reply theChelseaProject April 10, 2017 at 10:29 pm

      Oh Toni! How sweet! I’d love that so much. It’s so super easy. Do please send a picture when you get it in place. XOXO Susie

  • Reply How to Make An Old Wicker Chair New Again - The Chelsea Project June 21, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    […] If you’d like to see the plans for building the milking bench, please click this link. […]

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