Benches (for sitting) - Mortise/Tenon and Dovetail practice

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Project by GregD posted 05-21-2010 05:06 AM 4826 views 5 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project was to practice mortise & tenon and dovetail joinery, as well as to replace some similar sized benches from 2×4s I nailed together some 25 years ago. I wanted them to stack nice because space in my garage – where they are going to live – is tight (see my shop photos). Consequently, the legs on one end are wide enough to straddle the other bench. This presented an excellent opportunity to do some dovetails. The overall length is 48” and the height is 17”.

The wood is predominantly #2 fir studs but I think I got some yellow pine in there also. I cut the studs to rough length – nominally in half for milling. Unfortunately my planning wasn’t so good – I forgot to add in the lengths of the tenons, and I even forgot to mill one of the fir pieces, so I had to re-figure how I was get all the parts from the pieces I had cut. I see now that a project goes much easier if you give yourself a comfortable amount of extra stock to work with. It de-complexifies the job a bit, and that bit can help a lot. I had intended to mill up extra in case I trashed a part, but it didn’t work out that way. Fortunately I took things slow and had practiced the joints before (see my blog if you are interested) so things went pretty smooth. The short version is that I used a commercial tenoning jig with my table saw and an inexpensive shop-made mortising jig with my plunge router. The dovetails were “machine cut by hand” – the pins and some of the waste between the tails was cut on the table saw and the tails were cut on the band saw and finished with a chisel.

I didn’t work real hard on the sanding, and stopped at 150 grit. After all, the wood has plenty of defects that I didn’t try to mill out, and these are going in the garage for utility purposes. I plan on putting on some poly but that step seems to be getting deferred for a bit so I thought I’d go ahead and post this now.

-- Greg D.

6 comments so far

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3548 days

#1 posted 05-21-2010 05:56 AM

I really like your design and the contruction looks top shelf! Great job!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View a1Jim's profile


117114 posts in 3599 days

#2 posted 05-21-2010 06:16 AM

Nice looking good joinery

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View NormG's profile


6134 posts in 3026 days

#3 posted 05-21-2010 07:19 AM

Great job thinking about the storage aspect. Great solution

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3089 days

#4 posted 05-21-2010 03:23 PM

Very nice!! Great design, nice joinery.

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View JohnnyW's profile


83 posts in 3052 days

#5 posted 05-21-2010 06:48 PM

Great idea with the wider legs for stacking. I might just pinch that for when I get around to doing a pair of sawhorses. Would be useful for storing extra patio benches too. Thanks for posting.

-- John

View Gary's profile


1291 posts in 4346 days

#6 posted 05-22-2010 05:16 PM

How coincidental; my wife just said, “Hey Bubba, we need some benches for the front porch.”
Thanks for the idea.

-- Gary, Florida

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