SoDo Hall Bench

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Project by speedingtickets posted 1755 days ago 2014 views 4 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A neighbor of mine salvaged a bunch of fir tongue and groove 4×6s from an old rail servicing station in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood. This timber was originally used to frame in skylights as sodium lamps weren’t available back then. They were headed to the dump and took a fortuitous detour into my shop. Thanks Neighbor!

My family needed a place to put shoes on before heading out so the first step was to clean up the lumber. After testing for lead in the paint, and removing some rather large spikes used to hold them together, (see image with standard 3.5” framing nail next to a spike I pulled out) I used a hand chisel to remove the rest of the paint and tar. I selected out the best boards and with some help from my father-in-law we ran them through the thickness planer.

Naturally as the tongue and groove was already in place just some water and a carefully applied amount of Gorilla Glue was my choice to hold the top together. The one thing I learned from this step is that I need MORE CLAMPS!! I probably had the minimum amount to make this happen, but it’s still holding together after a lot of abuse.

The conundrum of bench legs was solved by serendipity really. I did not want 3 pieces to make up each leg because to me it would look a bit boring. I figured I would just stick two pieces of the same lumber together and recess them a bit, however that would have made the bench a bit unstable. I received this lumber in November of 2006 and did not complete this project until November 2007. The majority of time was spent trying to come up with a clever solution which was staring me in the face the entire time. I guess I was just to distracted to notice it.

For some reason I looked at the lumber rack and saw some left over pieces of ½” birch plywood I had used on a built-in shelving project. This was my “Ah HA!” moment. I thought shave off the tongues and glue the birch into the grooves already provided. This also made for a nice contrast of color between the aged fir and the light birch.

To attach the legs I simply made a huge mortise and tenon joint. I carved out a router guide in the shape of one of the legs and plunged into the underside of the bench top. Some more gorilla glue, clamps, and presto the bench legs were attached.

I used the router to round out the edges in an attempt to spare the toddlers in the house from any trips to the ER, and finished the project with several coats of a clear acrylic to preserve the rich tone Mother Nature had already created.

Now we have a very solid place to sit/stand/and jump from. It has been put to the test by my children time and again. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the other pieces, but rest assured they are not going to the dump.

11 comments so far

View sras's profile


3817 posts in 1761 days

#1 posted 1755 days ago

Beautiful wood! Nice job! – 40 or 50 more clamps ought to be a good start ;)

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View dustynewt's profile


640 posts in 2494 days

#2 posted 1755 days ago

Looks like it would support a Buick! Beautiful wood and an excellent salvage job. Well done.

-- Peace in Wood ~

View RS Woodworks's profile

RS Woodworks

464 posts in 1884 days

#3 posted 1755 days ago

Excellent work. I love it.
Great use of salvaged wood and a well done project. I love the look of fir, it sure doesn’t get used much in furniture for some reason. Hmmm…...

-- I restore the finest vintage tools! If you need a nice plane, saw, marking tool or brace, please let me know!

View a1Jim's profile


112015 posts in 2209 days

#4 posted 1755 days ago

That’s on beefy bench an elephant could sit on that with no damage. great job

-- Custom furniture

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 1827 days

#5 posted 1755 days ago

Massive. Great bench.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 2959 days

#6 posted 1755 days ago

nice salvage, and a great history to that bench.

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

View Greg..the Cajun  Box Sculptor's profile

Greg..the Cajun Box Sculptor

5011 posts in 1940 days

#7 posted 1755 days ago

A beautiful table.
I can picture a large dining table made from massive timbers like these

-- If retiring is having the time to be able to do what you enjoy then I have always been retired.

View nmkidd's profile


758 posts in 1805 days

#8 posted 1755 days ago

Nicely done…..purty hefty too. My kids are really good demolitionists but this bench may just be the one thing that would hinder their efforts.

-- Doug, New Mexico.......the only stupid question is one that is never asked!........don't fix it, if it ain't broke!

View RobFisher's profile


16 posts in 1828 days

#9 posted 1754 days ago

Beautiful and very well done! I love the massiveness and character of the salvaged wood.

-- Lancaster, PA

View dustyal's profile


1196 posts in 2107 days

#10 posted 1753 days ago

Beautiful build. I’d call it massive done right. Proportionately it all worked out. Very pleasing.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View speedingtickets's profile


34 posts in 1765 days

#11 posted 1753 days ago

Thanks for all the positive comments everyone! I really value the compliments when I see them coming from people who obviously have a skill level way beyond what I could ever hope to acheive.

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