Japanese Garden Bench #1: Milling the Lumber

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Blog entry by Nelsjenn posted 08-04-2014 02:43 AM 1743 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Hi Fellow Woodworkers!

Ny name is Nelson, and I live in Arcata, California. I’m building a Japanese style garden bench and I can not believe that I having an issue already! Help! (LOL) I’m in the process of selecting lumber. I have narrow it down to Iroko or Jotoba, both good substitutes for teak. My woodworking cultist requires 2-1/2” thick boards to make the legs. Moreover, the back legs require boards with a width of 5-1/4” to make the back legs. I have been shopping around for 2-1/2” thick boards and it’s impossible to find. I have been asking the lumber suppliers if they can offer 12/4” thick lumber. I have tried local mill yards, as well as online lumber supplier and I haven’t had any luck yet. I sort of want to make this bench from solid wood….
If this 12/4” thick lumber is not possible, then i can build the thickness by gluing together 4/4” or 6/4” or 8/4” boards and try to match the wood grain. I can also laminate Jotoba or Iroko wood (1/4”thick) onto poplar wood to make the required wood pieces and hide the seams. Are these the only two options that I have?
Does anyone have a resource/supplier that can supply me the right lumber thickness so I can make this bench without building the required thickness from thinner boards?

Any suggestions would be appriciated. Thanks for the support.

Regards, Nelson.

-- Nelson Lee, California

2 comments so far

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1057 posts in 2485 days

#1 posted 08-04-2014 08:10 AM

I would opt for the Iroko. I have a picnic table made from Iroko nearly 40 years ago that is still looking good in the garden. It has moved house 3 times with us altogether. Even if you laminate some thinner stuff to achieve your desired thickness, careful preparation should minimise any “construction: lines. Good luck.

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View Jake's profile


850 posts in 1803 days

#2 posted 08-04-2014 08:32 AM

Depending on where your shop is and what kind of respiratory protection/dust collection you have I would be somewhat careful with Iroko.

I made my kitchen countertop from a 8/4 slab of Iroko and I love it, it is very resilient. BUT it is hyper irritable. Without a proper dust mask you will be coughing like crazy, it is a damn near guarantee. Even after a few swipes with a sanding pad without a mask you will get a cough attack.

I would try to do as little sanding as possible and go with handplanes+scrapers whenever possible, then it should be fine. And if you do sand, try to do it outside.

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

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