Not so successful bench

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Project by daltxguy posted 12-31-2008 11:15 PM 2687 views 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Not so successful bench
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I just thought I would post this project in response to a blog about inviting criticisms of our piece ( What did you say about my project??? ) and my suggestion that perhaps we ought to post some of less than ideal projects so we can discuss things that didn’t work , mistakes and their recovery.

This was an attempt to make a quick bench using some recovered pine which was previously used as a concrete form to build a house slab ( what they call boxing wood here ) and turn it into a bench using a shaker style design.

While the bench is pretty functional and sturdy, thanks to the bracing on each leg ( no doubt the shakers had worked out a great design) and the wedged through mortices of the leg into the top, clearly one of the legs came out bent. It doesn’t seem to affect the sturdiness but it looks awkward and I’m not sure how I managed to do that. Possibly my measurements were off when I cut the bracing, so that it ended up folding it in to itself or my through mortise of the leg into the bench was not straight and so the leg ended up crooked when driven into the bench.

Since the wood was not perfect, I tried to measure the pieces “in place”, rather than cut precise parts out and hope that it went together. Maybe there is a better way when not using perfect wood? Any suggestions. Of course I was being too hopeful, not using the best wood in the first place.

Then again, maybe it just adds to the charm of the piece.

To get some of the concrete off, I just used a belt sander. I mainly sanded the seat and didn’t worry too much about making the legs look pretty.

In any case it works, but clearly not a masterpiece or an heirloom.

Left unfinished, it now sits outside our door and is used for sitting on while putting on/taking off shoes/boots etc.

Any and all critiques/suggestions welcome.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

13 comments so far

View lew's profile


13547 posts in 5250 days

#1 posted 12-31-2008 11:29 PM

On the positive side, You got one half looking pretty straight!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Christopher's profile


576 posts in 5414 days

#2 posted 12-31-2008 11:31 PM

I think it is beautiful! I built a set of shelves recently that were supposed to fit into a window. I don’t know how I did it but the brackets that were supposed to be set back a smidge to meet the wall they were intended to mount to not only didn’t meet the wall but there was a substantial gap that couldn’t be rigged to fit. Lots of wasted lumber and time but lots of lessons learned as well.

View moshel's profile


865 posts in 5178 days

#3 posted 12-31-2008 11:41 PM

if lumberjocks had a quota, I would probably exceed it if I tried to list all my problematic projects.
looks very nice, btw and i might steal the design.
i would have made the wedge through mortises first, dry fit and then measure the bracing in place, keeping the legs at 90 degrees.
just my 1.5c

-- The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep...

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 5222 days

#4 posted 01-01-2009 12:22 AM

I think its interesting that the leg slants in. If it slanted out, it might pull itself apart? By slanting in, it looks like it is the better alternative of two possible errors. Of course if the first was cut too long, you could have always shortened it later. Just out of curiousity, weren’t you worried about cutting wood with concrete on it? I’d be afraid of ruining my blades.

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 5403 days

#5 posted 01-01-2009 01:07 AM

I classify this as a ‘rustic’ beauty. Looks like a great place to sit and have a cold adult beverage after doing your yard work. And no one will say.. dont sit there.. you are covered in dirt!. I love it.

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View Mike's profile


391 posts in 5111 days

#6 posted 01-01-2009 01:24 AM


Mine came out staighter but still aint perfect. Motises are too small for the holes and the pins on the support on one side split.

It is sturdy out of Cherry and Tap hole Maple thown away pieces.

-- Measure once cut twice....oh wait....ooops.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5457 days

#7 posted 01-01-2009 01:25 AM

I have a BIG stove in the shop. It not only heats the shop but makes my boo-boo’s disappear. I will soon finish my,”Don’t ever try this at home” project. I’ll post it soon. If the bench works, sit on it.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 5217 days

#8 posted 01-01-2009 02:58 AM

I really like the rough look of your bench.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View TreeBones's profile


1828 posts in 5518 days

#9 posted 01-01-2009 06:46 AM

Over the years I have had plenty of “reject projects” that end up laying around the yard , shop and firewood pile. They were all learning projects and some grew into the better pieces I continue to make and some were just failed attempts at an idea that never went anywhere. We learn from all the projects we make. I like the bench you have here mostly because it has true character that not only comes from the wood but the construction and it is made from salvaged lumber. It reminds me of a bench that sits in my front yard, it was a failed attempt at a table and after sitting for two years in the scrap pile my wife cut down the legs and it is now a bench that we use and keep for everyone to see.

If the bench fits, sit on it (thanks Thos. Angle).

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 5408 days

#10 posted 01-01-2009 12:58 PM

I guess the moral is that even things which aren’t perfect can have some charm to them. If they are so bad that they aren’t even functional, then I suppose success is defined by how much you learned and how warm you stay burning your project.

Thanks for all the comments. I guess I am surprised how many like it. This too, I suppose, shows only that we are our own worse critics.

Mke, I actually like your bench, though it is clear that it’s not perfect either. The proportions are right, the wood looks good and the general construction is well intentioned.

Moshe, I did everything in the order you suggested. This is why I was puzzled when it turned out this way. I thought I doing things in a way which would minimize error and ‘working with the wood’.

HokieMojo, I actually used a paint scraper and other tools to scrape away the concrete as much as I could and especially from where I was going to cut. I did only use handtools though, which are easily resharpened. No tools were harmed in the making of this bench!

Treebones, I can’t bring myself to get throw out any wood until the offcuts are so small that they won’t even make toothpicks. True, all project are learning experiences, that’s why I try to make so many different things.

I guess I’ll refine my definition of success. It’s true that the bench in the end is ‘sittable’ and serves the purpose.

Thanks for all the comments!

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View James Richardson's profile

James Richardson

13 posts in 4922 days

#11 posted 01-08-2009 07:11 AM

A true slice of Kiwi ingenuity!

-- JR.

View kimball's profile


323 posts in 4791 days

#12 posted 12-22-2009 04:10 PM

So….. What’s wrong with it? Wrong color? What???

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 5408 days

#13 posted 12-24-2009 01:54 AM

kimball, the legs are not parallel. When I put the bracing on, clearly it was shorter than it should have been and so the legs are pulled in a bit. It is still functional, however and we use it every day. I attribute the solidness to the design, not the construction.

Wood bracing used in the right way can beat steel, pound for pound.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

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