Shaker bench - my way

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Project by rdwile posted 07-15-2013 06:05 PM 2623 views 4 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a very special project for me and for once I was able to use jigs and setups I had made for another project. This project is a wedding gift for my wife’s niece – the wedding is not for another month so keep quiet.

Once my wife and I thought through hundreds of options for something for me to make; from jewelry/valet boxes to tables, we settled on a bench. This way it does not have to coordinate with anything else they have or will ever get, and can stand alone. I had made one for our home entranceway almost 20 years ago (last picture) and it has held groceries, boots, kids lunches and schoolbooks since its first day – and it has the marks and dings to prove it. While not a major furniture piece, it has played a humble yet omnipresent role in our day-to-day life. This was the type of piece I wanted to give as a gift.

I had recently acquired a full flitch of nice 8/4 walnut to make a set of Maloof-inspired low-back chairs and a matching table, and knew I would have some extra, these boards are up to 20” wide so perfect for a single-piece bench seat.

The leg style is one I developed for the dining room set I made last year (pic#5) and allowed me to use the drilling and routing jigs for all the machine work. The front and back leg angles are the same as the chairs, as well as the angle for the back spindles.

The seat was carved freehand outside (due to the copious amounts of dust) with the Kutzall bit on my grinder and tuned up with sanding disk and then Festool RO 125. The key challenge was getting the seat flat all the way across, while not perfect its good enough. The joinery for the legs and braces are detailed in this blog entry.

The stretcherless design is one many makers use, among them Thomas Moser and Timothy Clark from Vermont, I like this clean down under look – like a Ken Doll :-). The cold-bent laminated bracket mortised into the leg provides a very strong support to the through-tenon leg.

Thanks for looking, after the end of August my blog will have the details on the build.


-- Richard D. Wile,

6 comments so far

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2486 days

#1 posted 07-15-2013 07:18 PM

very nice bench

View Woodbridge's profile


3573 posts in 2561 days

#2 posted 07-15-2013 11:07 PM

great looking bench! the one piece walnut seat is very nice and you did a great job carving it. I like the contrasting colours of the seat and back to the legs and spindles and the laminated leg bracket is very nice. I’m sure your niece will put this wonderful gift to good use and that it will become a prized piece of furniture in their home.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2640 days

#3 posted 07-16-2013 12:00 AM

That is a very well designed & shaped seat board and the reflections in pic 2 say you are too modest about your accomplishment.
Clean like a Ken doll? – too funny.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 2648 days

#4 posted 07-16-2013 12:08 AM


View holtworks's profile


6 posts in 2025 days

#5 posted 07-16-2013 03:14 AM

That’s how good I want to be.

-- Drexel

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3830 days

#6 posted 07-16-2013 04:00 AM

Excellent craftsmanship : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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