Sitting bench

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Project by Chuck posted 11-01-2010 03:16 PM 2349 views 2 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Thanks to all who commented on my prototype bench. I think the proportions are much better than the prototype…

Based on your comments (and my ideas), I decided to change the design of the bench:

- I would keep the legs with the same curve, but add a bigger diameter hole.
- I made the stretcher a lot smaller, more in proportion to the legs, and added a gentle curve to the stretcher.
- I made the top longer (32″ long) – It would fit the location better.
- I made the stretcher the same thickness as the stock from the legs, it seemed to be a better proportion.

The first step of the construction was to make the top, and inlay the leaves. I made the top of birch (I believe). I cut the leaves on the scroll saw and cut the inlays with the router (based on a podcast by Marc Spagnuolo). It turned out to be more challenging than it appeared by the podcast, but overall I like how the inlay turned out, and will probably incorporate that type of inlay into future projects.

I routed the sliding dovetail slot on the top. On the prototype I made a stopped dovetail, on this one I made a through dovetail and used a piece of scrap walnut as a filler for the front of the dovetail. I didn’t fill the back of the dovetail (so the bench can come apart, but not easily right now). I think if I had more time I may have added one for the back.

I then glued up the legs from sapele and milled the stretcher from the same. I believe it is sapele, but I have acquired a lot of lumber from a friend, and it wasn’t all labeled very well.

I cut the dovetail on the legs on the router table. I did cut the legs a little long, to ensure that if I cut too much off in making the dovetails, I could start over and not have to throw the legs away. After routing the dovetail on the legs, I cut the legs to length, and then drilled the hole and used the same template I used on the prototype to make the legs. I rough cut the curves on the bandsaw and used a pattern bit on the router to get the final shape.

I cut the curve on the stretcher and used a pattern bit to rout the curve to final shape.

The stretcher and legs are joined by a half-lap joint, and then the while leg/stretcher assembly is then attached to the top using a sliding dovetail. I used an American Woodworking project as inspiration for the construction method. I cut the slots for the legs/stretcher on the bandsaw and cleaned up by hand.

What did I do wrong? I made a couple of technical mistakes on the final project. The half-lap joints aren’t as clean as I would like them to be. I had the same problem on the prototype. I may have been rushing a little bit to get the project out the door on the final project. I also started to drill one of the cutouts at the end of the stretcher on the wrong side. It is on the back so isn’t very visible, but if I had more time, I would have cut a new stretcher and started over. I also finished the top prior to assembly, but didn’t have time to prefinish the rest of the pieces. I think it would have been easier to finish if I had prefinished all of the pieces.

What would I do differently the next time? Maybe use wood that would contrast even more (maybe ash for the top and walnut for the legs). I would prefinish all the pieces. I would try to get the half-lap joints tighter. I really liked the idea of building a full-sized prototype to help with construction and design ideas

Any thoughts?

-- Chuck, Preston CT,

3 comments so far

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4401 days

#1 posted 11-01-2010 03:47 PM

I like your bench! I’ve got several around my house. One’s a dressing bench in the bathroom, another is a dressing bench in the bedroom and the third one is a coffee table in the living room. I guess I need one at the front entrance way too.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View RichardMu's profile


259 posts in 4095 days

#2 posted 11-02-2010 12:51 AM

Nice bench. Looks like it would be a lot of fun to build.

-- You will never build it unless you try. The second one always turns out better.

View Dusty56's profile


11863 posts in 4852 days

#3 posted 08-08-2011 05:11 AM

Very nice design and you’re correct on the top being Birch : ) ( one of my favorite woods )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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