Hand Hewn (looking) Garden Bench and Table

  • Advertise with us
Project by CedarFreakCarl posted 07-31-2007 06:36 AM 4753 views 3 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After reading over the rules, I took off the week of the 4th of July and started work on what I thought would be a great project. I was going to use some 120 year old heart pine from my great grandfather’s old store and make a coffee table. I worked about 3 or 4 days and then for some reason went back and read the rules again. To my dismay, that big old “G” word jumped out at me slapped me down. What I had started could not be made without glue.

Soooooo, after a few days of being digusted I snapped out of it and decided to build an outdoor rustic bench. I had seen one advertised in a magazine and figured I had enough time to do one. After seeing the “Stickley” table in one of the wood working magazines I had noticed that part of the project involved making round stock out of square stock. So, I made a bigger jig using the same general principles for the table saw w/dado in order to shape some round tenons from square stock. (I’ll put the details in my blog in a few days.) I had a bunch of 8/4 cypress laying around so I figured to use that. I used split tenons with heart pine wedges to hold the legs to the seat and used the same construction methods for the legs and braces. To my amazement I finished it in about 2 days.

I still had a couple of weeks till the due date for the project, so I said “what the heck” I’ll build a table to go with it. It took two or three days to come up with a workable design. Little did I know this was a lot more time consuming than the bench. I used hand cut mortises with wedged through tenons for the top and the rest of it pretty much followed the methods used for the bench base.

After cutting the stock to length, I drilled the round mortises with my cordless electric drill. I had drilled a “fitting board” with different size holes so that when I milled the round tenons they would be the right size. After dry fitting it all together with square stock, I got out my grandad’s old draw knife and shaped the legs, supports and sides to give them the hand hewn look. I also used a mortising chisel and a rasp file to help shape also. I then put it all back together, got it as square as possible and started driving wedges into the split tenons. I then sawed off most of the tenons flush and sanded them down.

While I had applied 3 coats of tung oil to the bench, I didn’t have enough time to finish the table. I’ll do that in the aforesaid blog. I’ve got lots of pictures. I also didn’t have time to set this thing out in my garden area and take a shot of it. Guess you can see that in the blog also. I hope you like it even though it’s not completely finished. Thanks, Carl.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

21 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4014 days

#1 posted 07-31-2007 06:48 AM

Definitely rustic looking. Looks like something you would see in a loggers cabin.
Very nice!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4203 days

#2 posted 07-31-2007 08:02 AM

Yes, I do like this, Carl. It’s a great recovery. Well done.

Best wishes.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4186 days

#3 posted 07-31-2007 10:54 AM

Carl!!! I love this. It is beautiful – and no glue!!
The rustic furniture fits well with this category AND you used wood from your great-grandfather’s time and tools from your grandfather.. Very fitting! Well done

(and I love the table and bench. I know I said that already… but I really love it)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4092 days

#4 posted 07-31-2007 12:19 PM

Very well done – I really like the rustic look and that fact that it is “reclaimed” wood from your Great Grandfathers old (120 year old) store makes it a priceless item and hopefully a family heirloom.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4079 days

#5 posted 07-31-2007 12:54 PM

Thanks for the awesome comments. But…I guess I should have left the first paragraph out. While I started with the old wood building a coffee table, after I figured out we couldn’t use glue I changed to the cypress bench and table. I’ve got the heart pine coffee table about 3/4 finished and will use it in a future project.
Thanks again!!!

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4353 days

#6 posted 07-31-2007 01:07 PM

Pretty cool… sounds like a neat way to “turn” some stock for the legs, etc…

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 4337 days

#7 posted 07-31-2007 01:26 PM

Spectacular recovery! Super looking bench and table. The glue companys better watch out because their sales may drop after this challenge.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4431 days

#8 posted 07-31-2007 02:56 PM

I had the same “G” revelation by not reading the rules well the first time. I had a project in the works with lots of complicated joinery, and for some reason I hadn’t seen the “no G” rule either, until I noticed Don say it first in his box project story. I read that “no G” statement in his story, and said, “I had better go back and read those rules again…”.

I have to use glue for my project, as it is for a customer, so I won’t be adding a project for the challenge again this time. This is a great looking project, I think you will enjoy the results of the judging.

good work,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4431 days

#9 posted 07-31-2007 02:58 PM

I meant to ask how you accomplished the hand hewn look? I sure like it, and have done this myself before, but I like your “look” better than what I have been doing. Will you share the secret?

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4325 days

#10 posted 07-31-2007 03:16 PM

A great looking, & well done project. I love the grain of the bench top.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4332 days

#11 posted 07-31-2007 04:10 PM


-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View Joel Tille's profile

Joel Tille

213 posts in 4270 days

#12 posted 07-31-2007 05:58 PM

Carl – Nice project. and as mentioned above good recovery.

-- Joel Tille

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4062 days

#13 posted 07-31-2007 06:37 PM

Nice save!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4272 days

#14 posted 07-31-2007 06:56 PM

Very good looking project. jockmike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4079 days

#15 posted 08-01-2007 12:44 AM

Mark: I mainly used the draw knife to achieve the hand hewn look. I had to be careful as the cypress is somewhat soft and depending on how the grain was running it sometimes had a tendency split off long pieces which isn’t what I wanted. Usually I’d have to make a cut in one direction and if it started to split off, I’d just turn around the other way and intersect the first cut, if that makes sense to you. Other than that I also used a chisel and a rasp file.

Thanks again everybody for the great comments, Carl.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

showing 1 through 15 of 21 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics