A Bench for My Uncle #4: Making the Cross Beams

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Blog entry by Aaron McCain posted 11-13-2012 05:52 AM 2196 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Completing the Sides Part 4 of A Bench for My Uncle series Part 5: The Seat Back »

I’ve decided to finish blogging about building my Uncle’s Bench. After finishing up the sides it was time to switch my focus to the cross beams. They probably have a different name that is more associated with furniture and woodworking (probably “stretcher”), but I’m going to stick with cross beams for now. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to jump right into cutting and shaping. As the lumber acclimatized in my garage, the 2×6s split right down the middle. I thought I could work around it, but in the end I was unable.

I am happy to report that the lumber yard was willing to take them back with a full refund and I was able to pick up replacement boards that were actually a better quality. However, I did have to wait again for acclimatization to occur.

I have discovered that I enjoy cutting tenons much more than I like cutting mortises. The tenons go pretty quick and before long I was able to dry fit the cross-beams and get my first glimpse of what the bench will actually look like. Even though things look a bit blocky.

The front bottom cross-beam received a gentle curve. This was pretty easy to lay out and cut out on the bandsaw. I did have to learn how to safely support the long beams towards the end of the cut, but that was a pretty quick solution.

The top back cross-beam was a little more decorative. The plans called for a circular cut-out in the center, however that was vetoed by my uncle. He thought it would just be a place that moss would grow, so the direction was to simplify. I tried to lay it out by hand, but felt that I wouldn’t be able to get a symmetrical look to the top beam. So I played around a bit on CAD and was able to print out the entire curve for half of the beam and then make a template out of 1/4-inch hardboard. Below is a picture of the template on the top cross-beam.

After roughing the cut out on the bandsaw, I used the template and a flush cut router bit (with the bearing on the bottom) to clean up the cut. My router bit wasn’t tall enough to go the full depth, but after the first pass I was able to remove the template and finish up the cut. This is the first time I have taken the time to make a template for something like this and I was quite pleased with the results. Nice and symmetrical!

I also cut a groove in the top and bottom back cross-beams to hold the vertical slats, but neglected to take any pictures. But here is a shot of the completed cross-beams fit into the side assemblies.

It wasn’t long after completing the cross-beams, that my garage and time was taken over by my 14-yr old son and his Eagle Scout project. He decided to refurbish a used playground and donate it to a local campground. You can see in the picture below that the garage was filled with his project for about a month.

He is now done. The project is complete and installed. He had to disassemble the playground, replace the rotted boards, pressure wash and sand down every piece, and finally stain everything with an outdoor stain. He spent almost $700 (which he raised by doing a carwash) which did not include about $150 in donated supplies and equipment. All total he had about 300 man hours into the project including planning and fund raising. Here is the happy kid on top of the slide after the final installation on a rainy Saturday. (Now if he would just finish the paperwork!)

Thanks for looking!

1 comment so far

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2733 days

#1 posted 07-07-2013 06:48 PM

thats a great son you have and a great build woi=uld br proud of both

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

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