Honing existing skills or learning and practicing new skills is will get this small sitting bench build in no time. For woodworkers new and wanting to learn how to build things and end up with a nice function piece of furniture, this is a perfect project. For the more skilled woodworkers, this is also a great project because they add their own features to it and make it even better and also end up with a great new piece of furniture that will appeal to all members of the family.
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The version I made is from pine, and although pine is a soft wood to work with, the fact that it is glued in many places means it will last for generations without losing it rigidity that you would get with nails of screws. The nice thing with pine is that it's a beautiful wood to look at, to work with and can be finished in many different ways for clear coats to paint ...
In my case, my wood supplier had some laminated Pine Shelving boards on sale that would work perfectly for a project like this. Since the size of my bench would be 28 inches long by 12 inches wide and 17 inches high, I decided to get the 16-inch wide version of this lumber and that way I would have some extra material left over for the skirting.
Of course the first task it to cut out the top of the bench because you want to pick the very best wood for this, not only does it need to look good, but also needs to be solid and any knots should be small and firmly embedded in the wood. Avoid loose knots on the seat portion of the bench if at all possible.
After the seat is cut, next is the cutting of the legs because they are the second largest single pieces, and lastly is are the skirts, which in my case were the same length as the bench seat, but you could make them slghtly shorter, say an inch on either end would look fine too.
Next, I went to work on the legs. They should have 4 distinct feet in order for the bench to sit properly and not rock, and here is where the artistry comes in. In my case I made a simple hole with a Forstner bit about 8 inches from the bottom of each leg and centered by width, then from the bottom of each leg allowed for about 3 inches foot on each side, then drew a line from the inside of the foot up to that hole, which is what gave me the inverted triangle look with the hole at the top. Now there are many other things that could be done on the legs to make them unique, this is just one idea and here is where your artistry can play a role.
After all the parts for the bench were cut a ready for assembly, the last thing was to use a round-over bit in my trim router to and round over all the sides ... EXCEPT ... the very tops of the sides of the legs where the skirt will be attached. You want as much flat wood as possible here so make sure you do not round over for about 4 inches down on the sides of the legs.
Next, I sanded everything and did a dry fit. It was during the dry fit that I realized the legs might move around on me unless I installed some small temporary nails to stop them from moving during the assembly.
Remember, this bench is being glued together, the only mechanical fasteners are a few 23 gauge pins to hold parts together while the glue dries so you will need to be fairly quick at putting the parts together so that the glue does not start setting before you get the whole thing assembled. If you are a bit new and doing these assemblies you might want to pick a glue with a little bit longer "open time" ... that is, a glue that can stand being exposed to air for a little bit longer before it begins to set up. It will also be advantageous to have a few clamps handy that have been pre-adjusted for specific sizes for where you will use them.
The other thing you will want at this time is to cut a few 90-degree pieces that you can use for reinforcing wedges to glue to certain parts of the bench to help make it very strong. I made 8 of them to be used on the insides of the legs and tops and the sides as well as 4 along the insides of the skirting and the seat.
Then finally comes the gluing. Make sure the seat part is facing down on your workbench and now you can glue up all the parts. It's best to mark where glue should go ahead of time if you are not sure but when all the pieces that need glue are ready, place all the parts of the bench together, check the legs with a square to make sure they are slanted, and use clamps and/or a 23 gauge pins to fasten the parts together.
When the whole bench is assembled, the last part is to add the wedges. Mine was about 2 inches long with about 1.5 inches per side where I could put glue. Now attaching these wedges is important because you will want to take into account wood movement. It is likely that the bench seat and legs could move with the absorption and release of moisture so inserting the glue wedges at the sides of the legs and seat is best. That way it allows for both the legs and the seat to expand and contract if it wants without worry of it cracking.
Once the glue has dried overnight, the clamps can be taken off and whatever finish you want can be applied ... and if you only made one of these benches, be prepared, when others see it you are likely going to get orders for more so be prepared ...
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Copyright Colin Knecht