Hands On

MAR/APR 2002
Volume 45/Issue 2

Contest Winners
First, Second and Third Place Winner Projects
Project Articles
The Garden Bench
Wren and Blue Jay Bird Houses
Tapered Planter Box

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Owner’s Gallery
Letters from Owners
Academy Notes
Finishing Touches - Pt.4 Applying a Synthetic Finish
Service Pointers
Disc Sander
Safety Tips
Ladder Safety

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Hands-On Timeless Classics Now Available on CD ROM

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Copyright 2002.
Shopsmith, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

The Garden Bench


This attractive, slat-back Bench makes a perfect back yard spot for whiling away a beautiful Spring or Summer morning

If you've priced sturdy, well-designed outdoor furniture lately, you can probably guess how far ahead you'll be if you can build it yourself! Depending upon the wood used in its construction, a traditional, English-style bench like this one with mortise-and-tenon joinery could easily set you back over a thousand dollars! However, given a couple of weekends, you could craft a beautiful bench like this one at a fraction of that cost -- and enjoy it for years to come.

The bench shown here was made out of extremely attractive, weather-resistant wood that is probably the most durable of all outdoor woods, but unfortunately, is also very costly. Depending upon where you live, there are many other, less costly alternatives. In the Western United States, you might consider redwood, Western red cedar or white cedar. East of the Mississippi, cypress makes a good choice. And no matter where you live, there's always pressure-treated lumber, oak and similar hardwoods. Another “exotic” that is both attractive and durable is African Bubinga. Retailing for around $10 a board foot, it has the dark brown appearance of rosewood at a fraction of the cost.

If you choose the most universally available pressure-treated option, it's best to purchase wider, thicker boards than you'll need, then rip, resaw and plane them down to their required dimensions. This way, you'll be eliminating any rough-sawn surfaces and end up with a much nicer looking bench in the end. Also, it's important to be sure all pressure-treated lumber is well dried and that it has been stored indoors, out of the weather. If not, don't buy it! Starting with wet pressure treated lumber can lead to twisting, warping and other problems that could easily ruin your project as it dries out.

Mortise-and-tenon joinery is used extensively in this project and makes for a project that's both attractive and durable. These plans are for a six-foot bench. However, you could easily make a bench that's longer -- or shorter, and more chair-like, if you prefer. Just remember that if you're planning to make a longer bench, depending upon the wood you use, you may also have to increase the thickness of the seat boards to prevent breakage. This plan is easy to adapt to virtually any length.

Step 1: Cut all of your stock to size, according to the List of Materials...or the adjusted dimensions you prefer.

Step 2: Transfer the pattern for the back legs (B) to a piece of 4" x 6" stock...and the patterns for the back rail (F) and arm rests (E) to 2" x 6" material. Do not cut the contours at this time.

Step 3: Using a square, accurately mark the locations of the mortises and tenons on all parts.

Step 4: Cut all mortises in the front and back legs (A, B). You can do this by boring a series of 1/2" diameter holes with your drill press, then squaring them up with a bevel-edged chisel. A better alternative is to use a Hollow Chisel Mortising Attachment. This handy accessory will create precision mortises of the desired size in a single action, saving you time and effort. NOTE: Due to the length and bulk of the parts for this project, be sure to properly support your stock when cutting your mortises. If you're using a Model 510 MARK V or a unit equipped with the Pro Fence System upgrade, be sure to use your Floating Extension Table, Telescoping Legs and Connector Tubes to provide additional support. If you're using a Model 500 MARK V, a Roller Support Stand can be most helpful.

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