Garden Bench and Table Construction

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Blog entry by CedarFreakCarl posted 08-01-2007 02:32 AM 5387 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I think the thing I liked most about this project was the fact that really precise measurement and cutting weren’t required. The old “Measure twice, cut once” or in my case “Measure two or three times and cut” didn’t apply to a great degree. I didn’t make any drawings, just kind of designed as I went. Anyway, here’s a little pictorial on how I did it.
3 Table Top Boards
First I selected my table top boards and cut them to length.
End Piece
After cutting the mortise board to length, I placed the table top boards in position against the table saw fence and put small pieces of 3/4” MDF between them for spacing.
Mortise Marks
I then marked out the mortise locations.Mortise Square
I used a small piece of MDF to sight along to keep the mortise chisel square to the mortise board.
Chiseling the Mortise
As this was one of my first attempts at a hand mortise ( won’t show you the real first one!) I was really surprised how easy it was. Of course the soft cypress helped and also I purchased good mortising chisel for the effort.
Mortise and Chips
After spending an hour or so on the first one, I was able to do about one every 35 or 40 minutes. I probably would have done better if I’d gone slower but it all worked out in the end. (No pun intended, honest)
3 Mortises
Voila’ – one end done, minus hewing and sanding.
Tenon Check
I tried to make the long side of the tenon a little loose so that it would be less likely to split the mortise board. The idea was to put most of the stress longitudinally along the board and with the grain.
Tenon Trim
After marking the ends of the tenons, I trimmed them on the sliding compound miter saw. I probably would have used the table saw for this on more precise projects.
Tenons Anyone
Tenons Anyone? (with apologies to Marc Spagnuolo)
Round Tenon Jig
To make the square stock have round tenons on the ends I came up with this jig. I saw this in Fine Woodworking except they were using a piece of PVC pipe to rotate the square stock in when constructing the “Stickley Table”.
Tenon Jig 2
After clamping the jig securely to the table saw, the square stock is rotated within the jig against the dado blade to mill the round part. This was actually a lot safer than it looks as I was standing to the side and had the protection of the jig box between me and the blade. Of course the fit between the stock and the jig needs to be fairly close in tolerance. I also had a dust hood bungie corded to the top of the saw with my dust collector connected strait to it. (no duct tape this time!)
It's round
As you can see the tenon is close to round. I could have benefitted from a tighter fit in the jig with the stock. But it was close enough for this project.

More to come!!!

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

6 comments so far

View oscorner's profile


4564 posts in 3729 days

#1 posted 08-01-2007 03:53 AM

Thanks for the pictorial and step by step process. What kind of wood it that? It has a really nice grain pattern. Looking forward to the rest of the process and completion.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 3472 days

#2 posted 08-01-2007 04:12 AM

That’s Bald Cypress. I really like it, plus it lasts a long time outdoors. Here’s a picture of the top with the first coat of tung oil….....Table Top w/ tung Oil
I’ll try to finish this thing up tomorrow. Thanks for looking, Carl.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View PanamaJack's profile


4474 posts in 3496 days

#3 posted 08-01-2007 05:47 AM

Just an outstanding pictorial Carl. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 3579 days

#4 posted 08-01-2007 12:02 PM

gorgeous and I enjoyed the “how to” pictures

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 3472 days

#5 posted 08-02-2007 04:13 AM

Thanks Debbie! I always enjoy your comments.

Jack: while I enjoyed taking the pics and doing the project, looking at them here reminds me that my next project should be to organize my shop and eliminate some clutter.

Thanks for the peek, Carl

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View Karson's profile


35032 posts in 3819 days

#6 posted 08-02-2007 05:01 AM

Great job. It looks great and the colors just pop. Of in Debbies term colours just pop.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

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