Entry Bench. How I use joinery to make a piece of furniture

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Project by George Coles posted 10-28-2016 05:23 AM 4019 views 12 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was asked many times about my method of making a piece of furniture with joinery. I will try to share with you this project that I have just finished. This is a entry way bench for the client to sit and remove their shoes before going upstairs. The shelf on the bottom is to place the shoes. The client specifically requested that I not make it with a back rest. I may get around to making it again with a back rest.

This is the assembled bench prior to sanding and finishing.

As you can see, there are many joints used in the construction.

For the legs to connect to the top rail, I used a bridle joint. This joint prevents any movement of the leg and is stronger then a tenon joint, It also adds a feature to the bench.

The legs are connected to the bottom rail using a half dovetail. This dovetail will be locked into place by the shorter cross rail using a wedged tenon. This could also be an interlocking tenon, but I prefer this method most times.

The top cross rails all use stopped dovetails. The two outer ones insert from the top downwards. The two middle ones insert from below upwards. Reason. The outer rails will carry the downwards pressure of the arm rests see later pic. The two inner ones will be fastened to the seat and will prevent the seat from ever coming off.

The pieces that make up the lower shelf are fitted using a mortise and tenon joint. Note that there is a gap of 4 mm between each board. This is to allow for expansion and contraction of the timber. The tenon is only glued in the middle of each board to help with this expansion etc.

To fasten the seat to the lower frame, I use table blocks. These allow for expansion and contraction and also easy removal of the seat if needed.

This next pic shows the base assembled.

For the arm rests, I used steam bent uprights that have a wedged tenon that will insert into the arm rest.

The arm rest assembly is inserted into the slots on the cross rail.

This arm rest assembly is designed to use leverage principals. Downward pressure on the armrest puts downward pressure on the cross rail. This is why we used the stopped dovetail inserted from the top. The toe or end of the uprights puts pressure upwards on the bottom of the seat. This toe part will have a screw inserted to keep it in its position. There is no glue used on this as it can not go anywhere once installed.

This last pic shows the arm rest and the seat assembled. Note that I have left room around the uprights and the seat to also allow for expansion and contraction. I really hammer this point to allow for contraction as it can ruin a great piece that you have put your heart and soul into.

I have used terms for the joints that I was taught. I have found over the years that many joints have different names in different locations so I hope you will be able to follow my terminology.

There are no nails used in this piece. There are 8 screws used for the table blocks to fasten the seat to the frame and 4 screws to lock the arm rests in position.

I forgot to take pictures of this piece before the client picked it up. I will get some soon and upload them so you may see the finished project. Old age I guess. (:

I hope this simple blog will help someone in their furniture making experience.

Thanks for reading and feedback is always welcome.

-- George Coles,

19 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30388 posts in 2760 days

#1 posted 10-28-2016 05:28 AM

Very cool. Thanks for the tutorial.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View DocSavage45's profile


8830 posts in 3264 days

#2 posted 10-28-2016 05:43 AM

George, great design and a lot of thought. Bridal joints aren’t easy. Thanks for this visual presentation.

Nice work!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View George Coles's profile

George Coles

184 posts in 2867 days

#3 posted 10-28-2016 05:46 AM

George, great design and a lot of thought. Bridal joints aren t easy. Thanks for this visual presentation.

Nice work!

- DocSavage45

Especially curved ones Doc.


-- George Coles,

View BB1's profile


1384 posts in 1270 days

#4 posted 10-28-2016 10:30 AM

Wow! Thank you for sharing the details of how this was constructed. As someone new to woodworking I appreciate posts like this that show me how as well as why various methods were used. Could you share what type of wood and what finish you used?

View Redoak49's profile


4049 posts in 2410 days

#5 posted 10-28-2016 11:06 AM

Thanks for showing the details…excellent workmanship

View Ivan's profile


14669 posts in 3289 days

#6 posted 10-28-2016 11:12 AM

Impresive joinery and curves also, great and inovative design.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View shipwright's profile


8320 posts in 3220 days

#7 posted 10-28-2016 11:42 AM

Very nice work and a very good tutorial.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View R_Stad's profile


425 posts in 2265 days

#8 posted 10-28-2016 12:30 PM

Thanks George. Fine work all around. Well done.

-- Rod - Oregon

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2429 days

#9 posted 10-28-2016 12:40 PM

Thanks for the break-down. Beautiful piece !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View swirt's profile


3971 posts in 3394 days

#10 posted 10-28-2016 12:47 PM

I love the joinery details and the look of the finished product. Thanks for showing all the details.

-- Galootish log blog,

View JoeRPhilly's profile


176 posts in 2574 days

#11 posted 10-28-2016 01:01 PM

very well done! Thanks for taking the time to show and explain your methods

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2765 days

#12 posted 10-28-2016 01:40 PM

looks great

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3288 days

#13 posted 10-28-2016 04:01 PM

You did a wonderful job on this piece.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View FLBert's profile


71 posts in 1159 days

#14 posted 10-28-2016 08:08 PM

Thanks for sharing. Love the design and workmanship.

-- Bert, Lake City, FL

View pottz's profile


5558 posts in 1406 days

#15 posted 10-29-2016 01:57 AM

that is beautiful,love love it.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

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