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Blog entry by stefang posted 06-01-2010 12:03 AM 5752 reads 2 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project was my first ever blog on LJ. The first part was posted 370 days ago. I’m probably the only one who even remembers it after all this time. Nonetheless I hate unfinished business. I just finished the bench today so this will complete the blog as well. If you’re at all interested to see the whole thing then click on the link for part #1.

I left off showing the kinda strange tenon that I devised and the hand chopped mortises. After that my life spun out or control in a bizarre world where I had to do a lot of gardening and then following my wife’s two operations I became housekeeper, food shopping expert, etc, etc. No problem really, but I had to set aside the bench project until a few days ago. So now assuming you read part #1 I will carry on with how I made the bench.

I had planned to have 8 slats, but found out that it would look to wide for the 1,5M length, so I settled on 6 slats. Her they are laid out + an extra.


My next job was to mortise the additional legs needed. I did the mortising thinking I would still need 16 instead of 12 legs, therefore the overabundance. I did the first mortises by hand because the materials where so wet I couldn’t get anywhere with power tools. Over the year the materials dried enough to allow the use of my mortising attachment on my combi machine. Here’s the work being done in three passes because I only have an 8mm mortising bit and the mortises where slightly wider than 16mm.




The next task was to clean up the mortises a little with a chisel and then drill holes for the steel threaded rods that would hold the slats together. As you saw above I had laid out the bench seat slats on my long flat sliding bench. The holes had to be VERY accurate. There would be 3 on the seat part and 2 on each set of legs, 7 in total.

I drilled the 10mm holes on one seat slat and and on it’s two legs. Then I clamped the adjoining pieces to it and used a 10mm brad point drill as a center punch through the first holes to mark the next pieces and so on one set at a time making sure to line up the lengths accurately before clamping and punching. After marking they were drilled on the drill press as shown in the 3rd photo.




Before the glue up I realized I had forgot to counter bore the holes on the the two outboard slats. It wasn’t a big problem. Here is how I did it.



Here the bench is dry assembled and marked to keep the right order for the glue-up of the legs onto the seat slats. This was the only gluing necessary as the bench is held together with the threaded rods. I only had room to glue 2 sections at a time, so I used the rest of the day on that.


While waiting for the glue-ups to dry I went about making the spacers for between the slats. I ripped four 10mm thick boards off one of the unused 2X4s which gave me a spacer the same width as the slats, then I cut them into squares on my miter saw. The next day I drilled holes in the middle of each one of the 35 spacers for the threaded rod to pass through.

After that I laid all th”Photobucket“e slats together upside down side by side for assembly. Here I am cutting the steel rods to length.


I put a couple of nuts on the end to hammer on. I was praying that the holes were accurately drilled because if not the whole project would be a wash-out.



Luckily everything line up properly, so I had a bench! The next job was to make plugs for the holes that the threaded rod gos through. These photos show how I did it. I first drew a circle the sized of each counter bored hole, then
hollowed out the plug to encase the nuts with a Forstner bit, rough cut the plug out on my scrollsaw and then sanded to an accurate fit on my disk sander. I used the pictured board with a hole to test fit as I went.








And finally the finished bench. It is completely hidden from view from our deck, so not a decorative piece. I’m not going to put any finish on it. The weather should give it a gray patina over time. It is as solid as a rock and pretty heavy too. My wife seemed very pleased with it. Tomorrow is here birthday, so I guess it’s a kind of present.



The main thing I enjoyed about this project is that I designed it without any ‘research’ and then designed the joinery. The spacers and threaded rod just seemed like the only way it could be put together, so that just came naturally. It’s certainly not rocket science, but I found it rewarding to just jump into the project and solve the different problems as they arose. to me that’s more fun than the finished project, especially since it all went so well. I hope you enjoyed seeing the build. There’s not a lot to learn here, but I feel it’s always fun to see how others do things. Thanks for joining me.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

14 comments so far

View stefang's profile


13761 posts in 2118 days

#1 posted 06-01-2010 12:08 AM

Thanks Dave.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View a1Jim's profile


113011 posts in 2361 days

#2 posted 06-01-2010 12:19 AM

Hey Mike nice competition of your blog a cool looking bench. also had so great techniques plus your shop is very well organized and equipped thanks for sharing this neat project

-- Custom furniture

View stefang's profile


13761 posts in 2118 days

#3 posted 06-01-2010 12:36 AM

Thanks for your good words Jim. The funny thing is, this bench can’t be seen from anywhere in the garden except at the very end, so it is really just a practical piece and not meant for show. It was a fun first for me though.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13347 posts in 2457 days

#4 posted 06-01-2010 01:15 AM

Nice garden bench.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View a1Jim's profile


113011 posts in 2361 days

#5 posted 06-01-2010 01:26 AM

But you can see that beautiful yard of yours from the bench though Mike.

-- Custom furniture

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 2558 days

#6 posted 06-01-2010 01:41 AM

That is quite the bench. It looks like it will last a life time. Very nicely done. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View degoose's profile


7059 posts in 2138 days

#7 posted 06-01-2010 01:46 AM

Now that is outstanding and out of the box and standing…

-- Drink twice... and don't bother to cut... @ For lovers of all things timber...

View Dan Hux's profile

Dan Hux

576 posts in 2158 days

#8 posted 06-01-2010 03:09 AM

Great job,,I’m gonnn use your clamping idea in picture 10.. great idea..

-- Dan Hux,,,,Raleigh, NC

View mafe's profile


9764 posts in 1873 days

#9 posted 06-01-2010 10:42 AM

Thats a beautiful bench Mike.
I love the design, it’s simple and very Scadinavian, and it will become more and more beautiful as it ages.
And a fine blog, with plenty of details.
May I guess that you are driving a Peugot?
Thank you for the ideas.

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 1899 days

#10 posted 06-01-2010 11:15 AM

it´s a great torturial as usual from you Mike
thank´s for sharing your ideas and solution´s
and I secon Mafe on the design
I´ll bett you will sit on it many years from now

take care

ps. I like your new picture thats also very Scandinavian

View patron's profile


13223 posts in 2125 days

#11 posted 06-01-2010 03:21 PM

i remember this , mike .

look’s real nice !

i am glad the wood didn’t change to much ,
in all this time .
around here , our pressure treated wood ,
has to be used within days ,
or it turns to spaghetti !

well done .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4460 posts in 1820 days

#12 posted 06-01-2010 06:05 PM

The joinery seems the perfect solution to the problem of rain falling on end-grain. Long may it last and serve you.

ps When the missus chucks me out for spending too much time in the shop can I come and sleep on it?

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3692 posts in 1948 days

#13 posted 06-01-2010 06:17 PM

Classic simple lines, and very attractive. Interesting construction, with unsuspected complexities in the joinery, making for natural shedding of water.

We have a rustic bench, purchased, about 5 years old, in the garden. It gets taken in each winter, since we have a garden shed of generous size. I may replace it one of these years with my own design.

About 30 years ago, I made a number of benches, about 8 feet long, to be used for large picnics and such, I think it was 6 of them. Made them of fir, as simple as possible, using countersunk lag bolts and 2×8 lumber, butt joints, finished with Olympic Oil Stain. Filled all the holes with BLO before placing the lag bolts. They are still alive and kicking today, in Fairbanks. But Fairbanks is cool, low humidity, and wood will last a long time there. Anchorage is wetter, and warmer. Nowadays, I would use pressure treated wood instead, and probably wouldn’t finish them, just like you.

Have a day off, after being on call for the last 4 days. Already feel better just knowing I am off duty. May try to get into the shop some today. See how my brain does….........................


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile


13761 posts in 2118 days

#14 posted 06-03-2010 12:01 PM

The main weakness of the design is that the tenon can’t be done with a machine with the equipment most people have. I did used my bandsaw to make 3 rip cuts in from the end, but the rest is all chisel work. However, the chisel work was easy and fast to do on the tenons. The hand chiseled mortises on the other hand were more of a pain to do because they were wide and deep, but I couldn’t use my mortising attachment because the wood was soaking wet in the beginning.

Thank you one and all for the positive comments. I find it wonderful that you real woodworkers are so supporting. Not being highly skilled, I go by the philosophy that if a person knows just a few useful things, he can still pass it on to others. Everyone, no matter their skill level have some good ideas. I’ve learned so many new things on this site that I will never have time to use more than a small percentage of it.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to keep up with all you folks. My laptop computer went on the blink and I’m now using my wife’s which she never uses. The problem is that I don’t get email notifications on her computer. It will cost too much to fix mine, so I will be using her’s from now on, but I have to transfer all my files and change it to my name before I’m fully operational again. Meanwhile I’m just taking a quick look at LJ now and then. So I apologize for missing so much, but it isn’t due to lack of interest!

Mads How in the world did you know I have a Peugot? We have a 307 Station wagon that we bought two years ago and we really love it.

David Our 2X4’s are almost actually that dimension and the quality is probably a lot better than you have over there.

Mario Most outdoor finishes don’t really offer much protection with the exception of good quality marine varnishes, and even those require many coats to be effective. Paint breaks down pretty quick too, especially on horizontal surfaces. Based on using similar materials for decks and such I expect this bench to last at the very least 20 years. My wife and I being 70 probably won’t out-live the bench and if we do we probably won’t be able to use it anymore.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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