Japanese Timber Bench

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Project by bvdon posted 12-26-2010 06:03 AM 7049 views 26 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

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3091 days

#1 posted 12-26-2010 07:56 AM

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

176 posts in 3214 days

#2 posted 12-26-2010 08:07 AM

Very elegant. The curves really enhance the design.

-- Grant, Tryon, NC

View woodworm's profile


14470 posts in 3825 days

#3 posted 12-26-2010 09:15 AM

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

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3883 days

#4 posted 12-26-2010 09:26 AM

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


3201 posts in 3073 days

#5 posted 12-26-2010 02:26 PM

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

58 posts in 4151 days

#6 posted 12-26-2010 02:35 PM

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

-- --- Wayne.

View BillyJ's profile


622 posts in 3437 days

#7 posted 12-26-2010 02:56 PM

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 4259 days

#8 posted 12-26-2010 03:01 PM

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 (online now)


3496 posts in 3246 days

#9 posted 12-26-2010 04:27 PM

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


501 posts in 3249 days

#10 posted 12-26-2010 05:35 PM

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

Pictures coming shortly.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18423 posts in 3910 days

#11 posted 12-26-2010 07:44 PM


-- Bob in WW ~ "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

1593 posts in 3486 days

#12 posted 12-27-2010 06:31 AM

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

-- Monty Q, Columbia, South Carolina.

View ~Julie~'s profile


611 posts in 3269 days

#13 posted 12-28-2010 11:10 PM

Great workmanship, style, everything!


-- ~Julie~

View SgtSnafu's profile


960 posts in 3506 days

#14 posted 01-19-2011 02:50 PM

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


13551 posts in 2928 days

#15 posted 01-19-2011 02:53 PM

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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