Today I wanted to introduce a new addition to our backyard which has been beyond useful. We have more or less lived on this piece ever since it was made! The bed was my favorite piece of furniture before this (and it's still wonderful) however this piece is so unique and elegant; it's truly different from anything else I've seen. Let's take a closer look at what we built:
A few weeks ago we recieved some really nice cherry wood from our neighbors. They were upgrading some furniture and thought we might put it to good use.
For a while it was a choice between building an outdoor table or an outdoor bench. We needed both so it was mostly an issue of what the wood was better suited for.
There were really great planks of wood that just seemed perfect for a seat and bench back, so the only thing really to think about was the other wood we needed and what would the design be.
The only kind of bench you really ever see is iron/wood park benches that are in desperate need of a paint job. But the design of a any bench is pretty similar - you have a seat and a back on legs.
The color of the cherry wood is really golden/reddish so that was going to be how we thought about design. We wound up using cedar 4x4's for the legs and the bench frame and the cherry for the back and the seat rails.
I wanted the bench to be heavy and have a massive look so I went with 4x4 posts that I chiseled out and fit 5 of these cherry boards into and through. I knew that I was going to stain the cedar so the wood coming through the cedar would create a color contrast that fit with making it look more massive. It was a lot of chiseling but the final look justified the work. It took a bit of maneuvering when it came time to get those 5 boards to go through both pieces of cedar but with a lot of glue and banging it finally worked.
glueing the boards
The other bit of chiseling that had to be done before the seat glueing was determining the seat back angle and connection. It came in at around 110° and was connected by chiseling out at that angle through the cedar 4x4. Cedar is a soft wood so you have to be careful not to chisel too agressively or lose your focus when using the saw. You can't really fix your mistakes, especially if you get the angle wrong.
Coming up with the leg design took a few different turns. At one point we thought to spread the legs to the front and the back of the seat, but that would have been out of proportion. Although it would have been very strong. In the end it looked better and was easier to notch out the seat and add the post as legs.
For some additional support I added some of the cherry 2x3's and moritise and tenon them into the posts. They were then set with glue.
I decided to use some through-bolts to easily remove the back of the bench making it lighter and smaller to move around.
Finally when all the glue dried and the sanding was complete we could start on the stain. I used painters tape to avoid any of the cherry wood, I just wanted the stain on the cedar. There were a few mishaps but it worked out well.
I also added 45° feet on the back of the rear legs to add support. They were bolted in for greater strength.
The back slats were screwed into the 2x3's.
The cherry was not stained to preserve the nice contrast in the piece. Then 3 coats of exterior urethane spar went on to complete the bench.
You don't really see too many benches around. I think one of the big box stores does sell a thin metal version for around $100. This bench is not very expensive to make. It was nice to use the cherry but any wood will work, and there are a lot of other designs to figure out based on the look of the wood. It's nice to make a one-off piece. There are no instructions, you just work with the wood until something fits.