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Here I'm removing the saw marks and getting the board flat.
A fellow co-worker had some beautiful pine boards milled up recently. Most boards were a woodworker’s dream – wide, thick and clear. And the best part – he offered them at cost. Just enough per board foot to cover milling and kiln drying. (Thanks again Dan!)
Here’s a quick step-by-step, showing a simple design for a bench, that lets the lumber be the star.
And check out this post to see how I cut out the waste between pins with a reciprocating saw.
In this photo, the parts have been cut to length with a hand saw (not with the little dovetail saw in the picture), the tails have been laid out, and I'm getting ready to start the joinery.
I first cut the tails in the top board...
and then cut the pins in the sides.
A final smoothing of the parts.
Ready for glue-up.
After the glue-up I planed the dovetails smooth.
I then added a contour to the edges. A slight taper down to the bottom of the sides and a rounding to the top of the dovetails and all inside edges.
Here's a detail of the taper at the bottom of the sides. I used a flat chisel, block plane and rasp to add the contours.
Here's the finished bench.
A detail of the contoured edges. I rounded over the dovetails more at the sides and less in the center to give the edge a curve when looking down from the top.
I left the bit of bark that was still attached to an edge. This let the bench be as wide as possible, and I liked the natural look.
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John, I love the look of your bench. Can you tell me its finished dimensions? Thanks
hi John. i've been admiring your work for the last year or so. i really like your approach to materials and design. my ideal is to never even pay for materials (though i'm not completely opposed to it). i use reclaimed old growth 2x4's, old pine shelves, doors, windows, plywood and/or flooring i find in the trash bin. and i've recently started exploring the woods around my in-laws home in big bear, CA. i found a cool piece of oak burl attached to a fallen tree, borrowed a chain saw and went to work. (btw, i was super stoked to see your cherry burl bowl you turned.) is it possible to contact you directly through email? i have a bunch of questions about working with reclaimed materials. if so, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
if not, i'll try and post the questions here.
For pieces that are going to be outside, you might consider zinc naphthenate to extend their life. I made a smaller scale bench for holding plant pots on a small covered deck in Seattle decades ago which have weathered but are still holding up mechanically.
I think the 3" thickness (my bench was only 2in.) with finger joints would be plenty strong. You could always add a stretcher like OuGrysie suggested if you're worried about the strength of the finger joints. The cyprus would be a great choice for an outdoor bench too, just make sure to use waterproof glue, and it should be around for a long time.
I'm leaving it outdoors until it turns gray, and then I'm thinking of bringing it inside to use on our front porch. I want it to have a weathered look and feel worn-in. I might carve out the seat a bit to add more comfort, but either way, I think it will be a nice place to sit in the morning with a cup of coffee. Thanks,
I was wondering about a stretcher also, but after the dry assembly, I decided against it. I liked the clean look without the stretcher and I felt that the 2in. thick dovetails added an awful lot of long grain glue surface. It wouldn't hurt to have the added strength of the stretcher for sure, but I think it will last for years without it. Thanks,
Thank you for sharing, the bench is a beauty! I have some 3 inch thick slab of eucaliptus or cypress (I think). would the extra thickness allow me to use finger joints for a bench of the same basic construction, or the dovetails are still a must?
You indicate the bench will be outdoors. What will you use for a protective finish??
Nice bench! I was wondering, though, with no cross-braces between the two side pieces, will the bench not become wobbly after some use? Or am I under-estimating the strength of the dovetail joinery? Would you like to comment, John?
I'm letting the bench stay outside and weather a while in front of the rock wall in the photo. I thought the rounded edges would make it fit into it's "organic" setting a little more comfortably.
Beautiful bench John, really dig the roundover and taper on the dovetails. Great work!
Kezurou-kai Mini, or NYC KEZ for short, is a gathering in which craftsmen and enthusiasts come together to celebrate Japanese style woodworking.
Make something fun while learning new skills
Fast, fun approach to making a comfortable, casual seat
In this video Michael finishes the first of the three boxes. Gluing-up, planing, sanding and finishing bring a new piece of art to the world.
In this video Michael starts work on the second box, a carved and painted Saddle lid box.
Michael begins carving the saddle lid box with his ripple pattern along the top. Then turns to his 5/30 gouge to texture the sides of the box. This isn't work…
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