Bench fit for a Cabin

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Project by RobS posted 03-12-2008 01:57 AM 4435 views 7 times favorited 34 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, it’s going somewhere but it’s not going anywhere….

My SIL asked me to make a bench for my BIL; stating that he has always wanted one for their mountain cabin in New Mexico. She knew I dabbled in woodworking and trusted me enough to come up with something after showing me a couple ideas from catalogs via email. She said she’d be happy to pay for the lumber and the labor as she wanted to surprise her husband with it as a gift. She only asked that it be rustic, to match the feeling and decor of the cabin.

Right away I was thinking thick, bulky wood and started pricing some rough sawn cedar at the local stores; then along came this… some found wood of rustic proportions. After purchasing a used planer, I was pleasantly surprised to uncover the wood’s hidden colors and also determined that these boards were treated with a turpentine type chemical, probably explaining why they lasted so long outdoors. As I worked with it I could smell the treatment but the wood was dry enough to work without gumming up any of my tools.

I initially assumed I would be making the typical four leg bench, but being a fan of the unique, I had to at least “brain/book/web-storm” for some other ideas…Then I recalled my appreciation for Jojo’s shower stool, how he indicated the way all the joints worked together. I emailed Jojo and asked him some more detailed questions about the stretcher and the angles involved.

Wanting to keep most of the weathered/nail-holed edges intact and not wanting to cut almost 3” mortises thru the bench top’s center; I elected to go with this design, which I really don’t know what to call, its almost a reverse mortise and tenon. Figuring that cutting the slots to accept the legs would be easier to attack from the side. With the tightness of those joints and massiveness of the wood, I probably could have left it at 2 legs and the top. I did not think it had that finished look yet at that stage and thought the wedged stretcher would tie and tighten it all together…It did add a little to the bulk though, as the bench weighs in at almost 90 pounds with measurements of 61”(w) x 12”(d) x 18”(h).

Sanded from 60 to 150 to 220 and finished with two coats of Watco teak oil, I am happy with the final product and hope the recipient will be too when it is unveiled in less than a week (good thing he doesn’t surf the net).

So that’s the story….from muddy banks to mud room. Thanks for looking.

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

34 comments so far

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 4418 days

#1 posted 03-12-2008 02:09 AM

Wow Rob! That’s a terrific looking bench, and from found lumber, no less? I’m duly impressed. I hope the recipient is as well! Nice work.

-- Robb

View jeremy's profile


53 posts in 4263 days

#2 posted 03-12-2008 02:14 AM

Very nice!!

-- Jeremy, Saratoga, NY

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4228 days

#3 posted 03-12-2008 02:47 AM

Nice Rob. Very rustic and creative.

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4811 days

#4 posted 03-12-2008 03:20 AM

great bench, and what a find in those old boards! (as soon as the snow is gone, I’ve got some woods to tromp through…) good things that isn’t headed for the post office!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4463 days

#5 posted 03-12-2008 03:28 AM

Hi Rob

Very good looking bench. You did a nice job of keeping the typical “clunky” look of a bench at bay.

The joinery is nicely done also!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4537 days

#6 posted 03-12-2008 03:44 AM

Great bench Rob! Sure looks like heart pine to me which would explain the turpentine/pinesol smell, imho. As a matter of fact, pine is what is used to make turpentine from.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View john's profile


2380 posts in 4865 days

#7 posted 03-12-2008 04:11 AM

Great job Rob !! I am a big fan of rustic furniture.
That will last for centuries.

-- John in Belgrave (Website) ,

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4306 days

#8 posted 03-12-2008 04:39 AM

Hi Rob,

This is a very nice looking bench. It has solid joinery and thanks for the story behind it.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4480 days

#9 posted 03-12-2008 08:12 AM

Rob – I remember when you found that wood…

You really used it to a great effect here! Good looking solid bench! Great joinery.

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 4549 days

#10 posted 03-12-2008 10:05 AM

Beautiful bench. I think that you joinery was very clever and is well executed. He should be quite happy with it – he certainly won’t have to worry about the wind blowing it over or it roting anytime soon.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View 's profile

593 posts in 4456 days

#11 posted 03-12-2008 12:24 PM

Again, a very nice rustic piece Rob, and the exterior pics even look better than the previous. The turpentine gives it an amazing-looking grain. It almost doesn’t look like pine. I bet your BIL will be as in awe as we all are.

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4474 days

#12 posted 03-12-2008 02:50 PM

Nice! Real nice! Glad to see something so nice came out of those old timbers Rob. Beautiful wood pattern too.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4790 days

#13 posted 03-12-2008 04:10 PM

Wow! All great comments, thanks so much! Coming from all of you means a lot to me.

Carl, thanks for the guess on the wood, I’m not exactly sure what it is, although it is very heavy but figured most of that heft is from the treatment, whatever it may be.

Scott, good luck on your quest.

Thanks again to all.

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4702 days

#14 posted 03-12-2008 04:11 PM

I’m not usually a big fan of “rustic” but this bench is really beautiful. Great looking wood, too.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Thuan's profile


203 posts in 4302 days

#15 posted 03-12-2008 04:24 PM

I think it’s great that something so rustic and simple has half a world of thought put into it. That great looking bench will be enjoyed for generations.

-- Thuan

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