Front Porch Bench

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Project by MJCD posted 11-09-2013 08:19 PM 3443 views 12 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A fairly straight-forward front porch bench. I saw the design on “Bing Images”.

The bench is White Oak, with Waterlox Marine Sealer/Finish and Finish, is approximately 48” x 20” x 21” (h), and includes a shelf for shoes.

The slats (both on the top and shelf) are floating mortises, with the mortise cut approximately 1/4” wider than the tenon – to allow for wood movement: the two center slats, on the top, are glued M&T, others simply float. The Breadboard edges have pegged-tenons to hold the project together. The top is cleated (10, in all) to the legs and side aprons.

Anyone interested in this project, I have the Sketch-up model (in metric, only).

14 comments so far

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

6231 posts in 3558 days

#1 posted 11-09-2013 08:28 PM

I like the style! Looks very sturdy and has a nice finish on it. Nice work!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


117342 posts in 3782 days

#2 posted 11-09-2013 08:37 PM

Good looking bench. A lot of good thought went into wood movement.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21748 posts in 3310 days

#3 posted 11-09-2013 10:47 PM

Beautiful bench!!!!!!!!!!!.....................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View DouginVa's profile


490 posts in 2478 days

#4 posted 11-09-2013 11:45 PM

Bench? Looks like it would fit in better as a nice coffee table. Now you’ll have a reason to make some matching chairs.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2029 days

#5 posted 11-09-2013 11:55 PM

very nice bench and very sturdy looking…niec job.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View ColonelTravis's profile


1932 posts in 2099 days

#6 posted 11-10-2013 12:11 AM

Great stuff, I need to consider copying that because we’ve got a similar back porch table that isn’t as stout. Is the 1/4” mortise/tenon difference a rule of thumb for outdoor furniture, or for any wood movement? Haven’t built anything of substance in my life, trying to learn.

View MJCD's profile


580 posts in 2576 days

#7 posted 11-10-2013 12:51 AM

Thanks for the many kind words.

I have not come across a ‘general rule’ on the Mortise/Tenon difference. My reasoning on the 1/4” is as follows:
(1) Wood moves mostly in a cross-grain, not long-grain, direction – where the tenons are in cross-grain (on the slats, for example), the tenons are centered in the wood, allowing the wood to expand to either side of (away from) the tenon; as such, not much additional mortise movement room is necessary.
(2) Where the tenons are in long-grain (the cleats under the top), the 1/4” provides enough stretch to the side aprons (supporting the top) – also, I’ve not hard-seated the cleats (the stainless steel screws which hold the cleats are not tight; though, they are drilled about 1/2” into the wood) – this allows the cleats to move with the wood, without pulling out of the mortise.
(3) White Oak, along with Teak & Jatoba, is a true outdoor wood, and will have less movement than most other woods.
Where I needed to firmly secure something (rather than a floating M&T), I’ve glued one side of the M&T, and Peg tenoned the other side.
This bench includes a strong corner post arrangement, in conjunction with the aprons adding support to both the top and the corners.
If I can provide any additional information – or if LJ members with more insight on this than me, and there are many many of you. want to chime-in regarding handling wood movement in outdoor furniture, please post.

View ColonelTravis's profile


1932 posts in 2099 days

#8 posted 11-10-2013 01:48 AM

Thanks for the info. One more question, sorry – do you have the slats on the bottom shelf divided in half like that for design or function or maybe even both?

View MJCD's profile


580 posts in 2576 days

#9 posted 11-10-2013 02:12 AM

ColonelTravis -

There are two mistakes in the bench – the split in the shelf is one of them (the other one is on the underside of the bench top, purely cosmetic, only my wife could see it, and she found it!). I originally designed this, in Sketchup, without the breadboard edges, and full-width slats on the perimeter, a single centerpiece 90 degrees to the perimeter slats, and six (three each side) internal slats intersecting with the single centerpiece – this design is purely to add some visual character to the shelf, to separate this from short cross-slats on the top. When I added the Breadboard edges, I did not shorten the perimeter slat length, and mis-cut them. As I was running short on shop-time, I could not take the time to remake the shelf, so I opted for the Plan-B arrangement of the two mirror-image shelf components.

If you choose to build the bench, I recommend you NOT follow the design as-built; rather, opt for the original full-width slats, single-centerpiece approach (but do keep the Breadboard edges).

View ColonelTravis's profile


1932 posts in 2099 days

#10 posted 11-10-2013 02:42 AM

I’m a pro when it comes ye olde mis-cuts. Honestly, I think what you have is terrific.

View Rick S...'s profile

Rick S...

10913 posts in 3238 days

#11 posted 11-10-2013 06:02 AM

Very Nice Project Indeed! Thanks For Posting.


-- I Chose "The Road Less Travelled" Now I'm Totally Lost! (Ontario, CANADA)

View 731's profile


35 posts in 1848 days

#12 posted 11-28-2013 06:59 PM

I would like to see the sketch file for this! Great looking bench.

-- 731 - Just because it doesn't kill you, doesn't mean it didn't try to...

View MJCD's profile


580 posts in 2576 days

#13 posted 12-01-2013 03:10 AM


Just Returned – I’ll send one via personal mail. It will have some notes, to correct my Sketchup shortcomings.

View MJCD's profile


580 posts in 2576 days

#14 posted 12-03-2013 02:42 AM


Please confirm receipt of the files I e-mailed to you. Due to the file sizes, you may not have received them.
Thanks. MJCD

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