This project started out as what was supposed to be a quick and easy prop for my daughter’s 6th birthday, which was a safari-themed party (you can view all the details on the safari party here). I planned for it to be a rustic, old bridge that the kids would have to walk over to cross a snake-infested body of water (which was actually a blue tarp with some rubber and inflatable snakes on it!):
But as I started building it, my design became much less rustic and old-looking, and instead morphed into a pretty wood garden bridge that I now want to use as part of the decor for my yard! It’s funny how that happens! So, instead of being a quick weekend project, it ended up taking a few weekends, working on it a few hours each weekend, but I love the way it turned out (and I still used it for the party, even though it didn’t have the look of an old, rustic bridge that I originally planned for). 🙂
Here are the details for how I built this solid wood garden bridge:
Wood Garden Bridge Materials:
- 4 – 2×6 @ 72″
- 8 – 2×4 @ 72″
- 7 – 1×4 @ 72″
- 2 – 1×4 @ 96″
- 1 – 1×8 @ 48″
- 2 – 1×2 @ 96″
- 2 1/2″ exterior wood screws
- 1 1/2″ exterior wood screws
- Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
- 2 1/2″ exterior pocket hole screws (have a blue coating)
- wood glue
- 4 – Solar Light Post caps
Wood Garden Bridge Cut List:
- Bridge Base/Frame:
- 2 – 2×6 @ 60″
- 1 – 2×6 @ 57″
- 2 – 2×6 @ 27″
- 4 – 2×6 @ 9 5/8″ (cut in a triangle – see diagram below)
- Corner Posts:
- 4 – 2×4 @ 40″
- 4 – 2×4 @ 7 1/2″ (with one end cut at a 45 degree angle width-wise – see diagram below)
- 12 – 1×4 @ 33″
- 8 – 1×4 @ 30″
- 1 – 1×8 @ 33
- Side Rails:
- 4 – 2×4 @ 57″
- 4 – 1×2 @ 18 1/4″ long end to short end (with each end cut at an ~33 degree angle)
- 4 – 1×2 @ 21 1/8″ point to long end (one end with a point, and the other end cut at ~33 degree angle)
First, begin by creating the base/frame of the bridge. Make the following cuts:
- 2 – 2×6 @ 60″ each
- 1 – 1×6 @ 57″
- 2 – 2×6 @ 27″ each
Using the Kreg pocket hole jig, drill two 1 1/2″ pocket holes into each end of one side of both 27″ long 2×6 boards. Using wood glue and 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws, attach one 27″ 2×6 to each end of both 60″ 2×6 boards (to create a rectangle shape):
Next, drill two 1 1/2″ pocket holes into one side of each end of the 57″ 2×6 board. Using wood glue and 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws, attach the 57″ 2×6 board to the center of the frame:
Now, for the corner posts. Cut four 2×4 board to 40″ each. Using 2 1/2 exterior wood screws (predrill holes first) and wood glue, attach a corner post to each outside end of the 60″ boards making up the frame.
Now it’s time to cut the boards for the slats. Make the following cuts:
- 12 – 1×4 @ 33″
- 8 – 1×4 @ 30″
- 1 – 1×8 @ 33″
Once all the boards are cut, begin by attaching one of the 30″ 1×4 boards at each end of the bridge (the 30″ boards are the slats between the two corner posts at each end of the bridge). Predrill holes, then use wood glue and 1 1/4″ exterior wood screws to attach the slats to the top of the bridge frame.
Once the two end slats are in place, measure the spot that is the center of the bridge (should be 30″ in from each side”. Next, attach the 33″ 1×8 board to the bridge (using wood glue and 1 1/4″ exterior wood screws), making sure the center of the 1×8 is in the center of the bridge. Now begin adding the remaining 33″ 1×4 slats between the attached 30″ 1×4 board and the 33″ 1×8 board on each side of the bridge. Leave about a 1/4″ gap between each board (to allow water to drain off the bridge). As with the other boards, use wood glue and 1 1/4″ exterior wood screws to attach. It would probably be a good idea to lay out the remaining boards on the bridge so you make sure to get the spacing even between all boards before attaching.
Next, time to add the side rails. First, cut four 2×4 boards to 57″ each. Drill two 1 1/4″ pocket holes into each end of one side of each 2×4 board. Use wood glue and 2 ½” pocket hole screws to attach the side rail boards in between the two corner posts on each side of the bridge. The top rail on each side should start at 2 ¼” down from the top of the corner posts. The bottom rail on each side should start at 15 ½” down from the bottom of the top rail.
Once all four side rails are attached, cut the decorative 1×2 boards to make the design in between the two side rails on each side of the bridge. For these, I marked a line at the center of the 57″ top rail (mark a line at 28 ½”), then moving outward from each side of the center line, mark a line at 14 1/4″.
To cut the decorative side boards, first cut four 1×2 boards to 24″ each. On one end of each of those four boards, cut a point by marking the center of the board, then cutting a 45 degree angle from the center point outwards on each side of the center line. From the point, measure 21 1/8″ down and mark that spot. I then cut the board at a 33 degree angle, with the mark at 21 1/8″ being the long side. After the four boards are cut, they should look like this:
Now, cut the remaining 4 decorative boards. For these, cut four boards to 18 ¼” long end to short end, with each end cut at a 33 degree angle:
Once all the boards were cut for both sides, I attached them to the bridge using wood glue. Here is a diagram showing where each board was attached:
Next, cut the support boards for the ramp slats. Cut four triangle-shaped 2×6 boards: Measure a length of 9 5/8″ and mark a line. Using a straight edge, drawn a line from the top end of the edge of the board to the 9 5/8″ line at the bottom edge of the board: Using a circular saw or jig saw, cut along both lines to form the triangle shape.
Using a Kreg Jig, drill two 1 ¼” pocket holes into the 5 ½” tall side of the triangle for each board. Then, using wood glue and 2 ½” pocket hole screws, attach the support boards to the end 2×6 boards that make up the base of the bridge:
Once two support boards are attached on each end of the bridge, attach three 30″ 1×4 boards on top of the support boards using wood glue and 1 ½” exterior wood screws (predrill holes first). Make sure to leave ~ ¼” to ½” gap between each board.
Now, add the support boards for the solar post caps that will attach to the top of the corner posts. Cut four 2×4 boards to 7 ½” each. On one side of each board, at one end, cut a 45 degree angle – the wide 3 ½” side of the board will be tapered, so a side view, looking at the 1 ¾” side of the 2×4 board, will look like this:
Next, using wood glue and 2 ½” exterior wood screws, attach one of the solar post cap support boards to the outside edge of the each corner post (the boards should line up with the tapered side of the support board on the outside at the bottom). Since the post caps are made to be attached to a 4×4 board, these support boards are needed so there is enough width to attach the solar light end cap).
Now, sand the bridge, add your desired stain (since I was going for the somewhat rustic look, I used a homemade steel wool and vinegar stain to age the wood. Once the stain has dried, add at least three coats of exterior varnish. Finally, attach the solar light end caps (I got mine at Home Depot for around $5 each) to each corner and place your bridge in your desired location! Here are some pics of my bridge, I haven’t added the varnish yet, but will soon!
This would make a cute addition to your yard if you have a rock bed or narrow stream. Plus, it is fairly easy to build for a new woodworker.
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