Japanese Timber Bench

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Project by bvdon posted 1310 days ago 3953 views 22 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I decided I would make a simple bench for the in-laws mountain house. While thinking of what to make I stumbled on a picture of a Japanese Timber Bench at TRC Timberworks. So much for that simple bench ;)

There were no plans or really any specifics on the TRC website, so all I had to go by was the picture.

Then as luck would have it I found a guy on Craigslist selling 21 feet (three tongue & groove logs) of cypress that was leftover from a log cabin build, as well, a stack of cypress siding (with a log profile).

I didn’t have quite enough material to build the same size as in the photo, but no reason not to try and come close.

The logs were milled to size, planed, then shaped with the bandsaw. Leg pairs (two back, two front) were clamped together and belt sanded for a perfect, smooth match. I also milled the log profile panels and laminated them to create the seat. For added strength and longevity, I drilled four 14inch holes front to back and glued in 1/2 inch dowels. (next time, I will use a slab—as per the picture of the original).

No screws at all—all wood joinery throughout.

I sanded to 220 grit, and finished with “Super Deck” Waterproofing Stain & Sealer, #2901. One coat and you’re done. Should be refinished at three year intervals if kept outside.

Here’s the finished project…. see photos.

This was the first project that made extensive use of my MiniMax MM16—I just love this machine.

I also used a cheap Japanese Pull Saw (from HD) that cuts through dowels like butter. I was surprised at how nicely it worked. Apparently these are highly appreciated tools to those in the know—great for dovetails from what I hear. A very clean, accurate, splinter-free cut with just a few pulls.


17 comments so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile (online now)

Jamie Speirs

4092 posts in 1457 days

#1 posted 1310 days ago

Nice that size looks very balanced.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Grant Libramento's profile

Grant Libramento

172 posts in 1580 days

#2 posted 1310 days ago

Very elegant. The curves really enhance the design.

-- Grant, Tryon, NC

View woodworm's profile


14124 posts in 2192 days

#3 posted 1310 days ago

Very impressive in design and undoubtedly strong in build.
Great work Don!

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View PurpLev's profile


8476 posts in 2249 days

#4 posted 1310 days ago

nice work. looks stout and elegant at the same time

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View rivergirl's profile


3198 posts in 1439 days

#5 posted 1310 days ago

Lovely bench, and you did replicate the other one very well! I bet that bugger is heavy!

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Wayne Precht's profile

Wayne Precht

47 posts in 2517 days

#6 posted 1310 days ago

Beautiful. I really like the in harmony with nature feel of the timber construction. Well done!

-- --- Wayne.

View BillyJ's profile


622 posts in 1804 days

#7 posted 1310 days ago

Awesome bench. Looks very sturdy. Nice work.

-- I've never seen a tree that I wouldn't like to repurpose into a project. I love the smell of wood in the morning - it smells like victory.

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 2625 days

#8 posted 1310 days ago

I really like the look – very graceful for its mass. Very much like the Japanese would do. Very nice.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View 489tad's profile


2220 posts in 1612 days

#9 posted 1309 days ago

Yes, post more pictures. make sure you get a close up of the carving. Very nice job.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View bvdon's profile


456 posts in 1616 days

#10 posted 1309 days ago

Will do…. the carving was purchased on eBay by this seller

Pictures coming shortly.


View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


14604 posts in 2277 days

#11 posted 1309 days ago


-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Monty Queen's profile

Monty Queen

1578 posts in 1853 days

#12 posted 1309 days ago

Wow, I love it. Awesome job, great craftsmanship.

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View ~Julie~'s profile


572 posts in 1635 days

#13 posted 1307 days ago

Great workmanship, style, everything!


-- ~Julie~

View SgtSnafu's profile


957 posts in 1872 days

#14 posted 1286 days ago

Great looking bench. You were quite fortunate to find cypress, it is a very good outdoor wood.

Thanks for sharing

-- Scotty - aka... SgtSnafu - Randleman NC

View Bertha's profile


12951 posts in 1294 days

#15 posted 1286 days ago

Absolutely spectacular. Love the beefy joinery. That’s a project that you have to sequence your assembly carefully!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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