Live-edge Siberian Elm Garden Bench

  • Advertise with us
Project by Pete Tevonian posted 06-18-2015 04:23 PM 2401 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a small garden bench built for a little side-yard nook that needed some seating—36” wide. It’s made from Siberian Elm, only because I have a lot of it sitting in my shop waiting for projects. I opted for the live-edge on the seat and back because I thought it would add a nice outdoor/rustic feel, and make the bench more distinctive. The back and seat are also cut from single wide boards to show off the great Siberian Elm grain.

Siberian Elm is definitely NOT a typical outdoor furniture wood, and I very well may end up regretting the choice, but this was my first attempt at any kind of “seating” furniture anyway; experimenting and learning is the name of the game! The construction is all mortise and tenon, using Titebond III glue, except for the seat slats which I screwed down from below, in case they need to be replaced or refinished much sooner than the rest.

The finish is 7 coats of Epifanes Marine Varnish, sanded lightly between coats. I didn’t worry about a perfect mirror polish since it’s an outdoor piece. I’ll be interested to see how well the Epifanes works to protect the wood. My main concern is around the joints—whether the finish will adequately fill and protext the tiny cracks where water will want to hide. I’ve read that sun exposure is the greatest threat to the long life of the finish, and that shouldn’t be an issue in this location, so maybe it will hold up for a summer or two. I’ll come back and update the project as time goes by.

Thanks for reading!

-- Pete in Wilmette, IL

5 comments so far

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 3838 days

#1 posted 06-18-2015 08:57 PM

nice looking bench

View crossroad's profile


58 posts in 3039 days

#2 posted 06-19-2015 03:49 AM

I like this piece. Good job

-- "Why am I soft in the middle when the rest of my life is so hard?"

View Calmudgeon's profile


719 posts in 2922 days

#3 posted 06-20-2015 01:10 PM

Hmmnnn … who knew? Siberian elm is actually good for something? ;-)

Nice job.

-- "As are the things we make, so are we ourselves." - Lin Yutang

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4362 days

#4 posted 06-20-2015 02:18 PM

What a beautiful bench!

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Pete Tevonian's profile

Pete Tevonian

78 posts in 4413 days

#5 posted 06-20-2015 04:32 PM

mistuhd, I know what you mean! When I was looking into whether or not it would make sense to mill that tree, I found one horticulturist call it “the worst tree in the world.” I assume that was from a growing/caring point of view. As lumber, I like it. The grain is pretty dramatic, the color is attractive, and it’s decently strong without being very heavy. The growth rings can be prone to some tear out, so plenty of sanding is required, but otherwise it cuts and works pretty well, too. And we got pretty good yield of straightish flatish boards from the milling and drying process.

The only problem, I think (aside from the urine smell while you’re cutting it) is that you can’t find it through retailers, so if you run out or need a replacement piece, you’re going to be in trouble.

Check out my coffee table project to see more of the same Siberian Elm tree, used a little differently:


-- Pete in Wilmette, IL

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics