First finished project: my little living room bench

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Project by Courtney posted 03-09-2013 04:05 PM 25991 views 44 times favorited 59 comments Add to Favorites Watch

First of all, thanks for checking this out. I’m so thrilled to finally post a completed project. I’ve looked at so many other people’s work on this site, and I’ve learned a ton from them.
This is my very first completed project. I started a small coffee table, but quickly became frustrated with not having a bench to use. Yes, this bench is, in fact, in my living room. I plan on using it for hand tool and carving purposes only. I have a very small space in the basement where I keep my table saw. To build this, my husband (countless times) carried my portable planer and miter saw onto the front porch to use. Most of the work was done outside which made for a chilly couple months for me here in WNY. It’s going to be great for carve right here inside where I can be around my husband and our two dogs. It also makes it a lot more likely that it will be used very often.
Now for a better project description: the bench is 48×24x32”. I’m only 5’5”, so I wanted something that wouldn’t be too tall. I even feel more comfortable carving a little bit lower (I felt better about this after reading a blog post by Peter Follansbee that he likes to work lower as well). The top is glued up from ash, red oak, and a strip of walnut. The tool rack is also walnut. I got a great deal on some wood ($.55/board foot) from a guy who had a storage problem. The end caps are secured by counter sunk screws (oversized for movement) and lag screws in the center. There’s a hickory brace at a diagonal at the back since it didn’t have the ridgidity I wanted without it. The dovetail braces got better as I went along, but the first ones I did were on the long cross-piece on the bottom. They aren’t nearly tight enough. Learning to trust the line and cut to it was a big take away from this project. Most of the things I did on this bench were firsts, so it was a great learning experience. Ask anything else you want to know, and I’ll be glad to tell you more. Criticism (please be kind :)) also welcome.

-- It's very common for people to separate things they do from the things they need. - Jogge Sundqvist

59 comments so far

View Doug's profile


1247 posts in 4044 days

#1 posted 03-09-2013 04:14 PM

How many ways are there to say WOW? What a wonderful bench! I have been looking for ideas to make a bench as well and yours really fits the bill. It seems to be the right size for a man who is stature challenged. Because my shop is small I don’t have a lot of room for a long traditional bench. Yours goes straight into my favorites. Thank for the inspiration.

-- Doug

View crashman's profile


160 posts in 3628 days

#2 posted 03-09-2013 04:22 PM

Absolutely beautiful, but in your living room???? I can’t get away with that stuff after I painted a Orange Chevy Pickup tailgate in the basement in the winter. Not to long after the furnace kicked in the whole house had a layer of orange on everything…......oooops. That was THE END of that program LOL….............Jack

-- Jack R. Ellis

View Bluepine38's profile


3393 posts in 4368 days

#3 posted 03-09-2013 04:50 PM

Great looking bench, and way better looking than my pine and mdf carving bench in the basement. It is great
that your husband supports and helps you with your projects. That work bench looks way too clean compared
to mine, you need a couple of carvings and projects on it, it they are not great that is fine, we are all learning,
That is a nice looking jointer plane and ax you have on that dovetailed crosspiece. Keep having fun, and I
hope both you and your husband enjoy the house and the woodworking for many years.

-- As ever, Gus-the 82 yr young apprentice carpenter

View waho6o9's profile


9098 posts in 3860 days

#4 posted 03-09-2013 04:58 PM

Most excellent Courtney, congrats.

The tool rack is a nice addition and compliments the
bench for a job well done.

View kdc68's profile


3017 posts in 3560 days

#5 posted 03-09-2013 05:16 PM

Your bench is a beauty. The walnut tool rack is awesome. You did a fantastic job. The proportions are great for someone of any size IMO. The contrasting woods, the dovetails, and the walnut rack makes this a great looking bench.

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 4762 days

#6 posted 03-09-2013 05:38 PM

Freeeeaaaking Excellent!

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View razor524's profile


70 posts in 4290 days

#7 posted 03-09-2013 05:42 PM

Beautiful bench! Can’t imagine what you would make for a workshop!

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 4140 days

#8 posted 03-09-2013 05:50 PM

Courtney that is way more useful in the living room than any old coffee table
It definitely makes a house a home
It is a great design and well built plus it looks GOOD.
The tool rack is not only a great & practical addition it also has great style
Did I mention that I liked it?


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Robsshop's profile


923 posts in 4258 days

#9 posted 03-09-2013 06:17 PM

Congrats on Your 1st L J project, but You have made a horrific mistake….....You will have a hell of a time topping this wonderfully constructed project (Rookie mistake) ! LOL. Kidding aside, great looking workhorse,it should serve You well. Looking forward to any future projects that role off a killer bench like that ! Be safe and keep making wood chips.


-- Rob,Gaithersburg,MD,One mans trash is another mans wood shop treasure ! ;-)

View Paul Mayer's profile

Paul Mayer

1173 posts in 4348 days

#10 posted 03-09-2013 07:11 PM

Outstanding bench! Inspiring work, Courtney. Hard to image that this is your first project. You’ve got some serious talent.

-- Paul Mayer,

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3290 days

#11 posted 03-09-2013 08:04 PM

Excellent! And I gotta say like has already been mentioned … hard to imagine this is your FIRST project :-) Beautiful bench. Keep up the great work.

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

View Courtney 's profile


49 posts in 3335 days

#12 posted 03-09-2013 09:02 PM

Thanks so much, everyone, for your extremely kind comments. It’s very rewarding to have positive feedback after investing so much time, energy and thought into a project. The design process was a lot of fun for me, and it’s great to have people like how the design turned out.
Crashman, thanks for the good laugh about the orange everywhere! I sympathize; my first round with the random orbital sander on the top was done in our kitchen. Never again! But, I don’t think the living room will suffer too much as long as I restrict myself to hand tools and no sandpaper .
Joein10asee, first completed furniture project, scout’s honor :). Having a tiny bit of exposure to some timber framing joinery definitely helped, though. Still, as a newbee, every step of the way seemed to take forever. Hopefully, I’ll learn a little patience from this great hobby (and get a little faster along the way:)).

-- It's very common for people to separate things they do from the things they need. - Jogge Sundqvist

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 3290 days

#13 posted 03-09-2013 09:18 PM

”and get a little faster along the way”

I wouldnt worry ‘bout that. “SPEED” dont necessarirly make you “Better” :-)
Slow down, take you time. ENJOY the work, you’ll get far more out of it that way.

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

View Ron Harper's profile

Ron Harper

133 posts in 3200 days

#14 posted 03-09-2013 09:59 PM

Nicely done. I may have you talk to my wife :)

-- Ron in Kokomo

View blackcherry's profile


3349 posts in 5106 days

#15 posted 03-09-2013 10:36 PM

Your first post is probably your best choice as for now all your project will have a added level of preciseness due to this solid surface in which to build on, congrats on your new workmate…BC

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