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Blog entry by stefang posted 05-26-2009 09:27 PM 8334 reads 1 time favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of GARDEN BENCH WITH WEIRD JOINERY series no next part

My wife wants a bench at the end of the garden so she won’t have to go all the way back to the deck next to the house when she just wants a short rest from her labors. The area she wants it in isn’t visible from the deck and so we don’t need anything elaborate, but I thought a rather heavy bench in a modern style and without finish could be practical, long lasting and low maintenance. The idea is to just let it weather to a nice silver-gray color.

I won’t brag about the design. It’s the best I could do and still get my wife’s approval. I thought maybe the joinery idea might be interesting to some, and anyway I wanted to try my hand at a blog. This is what I came up with:


Step 1: Materials
I bought 69ft. pressure treated 2X4 deck material. This was cut into 2 lengths. 8 lengths at 50” for the bench seat and 16 lengths at 18 1/2” for the legs.

Step 2: Construction Details

I wanted the seat to continuously flow from end to end and seem to continue right down the leg to the ground. The joint of choice was mortise and tenon for strength. I designed the weird joint shown below in order to cover the end grain on the legs to prevent eventual checking (cracking) and to give it a smoother look.


This piece is inserted into a mortise in the leg and when together looks like this (upside down):


I cut the lengths on the miter saw and the joints by hand. It’s a lot of work and goes a little slow, but kinda fun. The materials are soaking wet so I don’t know how it will work out in the long run. We have a very wet climate here, so I think it will be ok. My next blog on this will be on the glue-up and some other details.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

17 comments so far

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4585 days

#1 posted 05-27-2009 12:36 AM

nice and clean , intricate and creative joinery !
im sure you both will love it .
is it to be enmass or are you going to have spacers and tie rods ?
if spaced the rain and snow can melt easyer (?) esier ,ezier easy er ?
keep us poster .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4917 days

#2 posted 05-27-2009 01:04 AM

Nice and cool.

View RalphB's profile


25 posts in 4610 days

#3 posted 05-27-2009 03:11 AM

I note that the joinery exposes large amounts of the wood that are not pressure treated. Will you be applying the green preservative before you join? Or might you be using a waterproof glue like Gorilla such that the joints will be well sealed? Or????

View Napaman's profile


5535 posts in 5321 days

#4 posted 05-27-2009 03:12 AM

unique joinery…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View a1Jim's profile


118258 posts in 4821 days

#5 posted 05-27-2009 03:20 AM

hey stefang
this looks like a capped saddle joint, Interesting design


View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 5332 days

#6 posted 05-27-2009 04:54 AM

I tried to do something similar on a sign I was making for the subdivision. This way you got a good mortise and tenon and no end grain shows. (Sorry, Ralph, I don’t see any exposed wood.)
Mine didn’t turn out so well.


-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Luke's profile


546 posts in 4538 days

#7 posted 05-27-2009 05:46 AM

Just make sure to use the correct glue. Which one that is I don’t know, but a polyurethane would probably do best. Who am I kidding I don’t know that. All I know is that the wood will continue to dry for a while and that means the glue will probably always be wet. The gorilla glued can be applied to a wet surface and I believe it sinks down into the cracks and endgrain to really grab. I don’t see and exposed wood either. Nice joint, hard and tedious to produce. Kudos

-- LAS,

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 4548 days

#8 posted 05-27-2009 06:05 AM

Well done!

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4578 days

#9 posted 05-27-2009 11:02 AM

Thanks for all the questions, helpful hints, and encouraging comments. I’ll try to answer them:

David: Yes you got it exactly right. There will be spacers, about 3/8” thick and I have bought 3 threaded rods 3/8” dia. which will be cut in half to make 6 tie rods. I plan to grease these tie rods and while the front rod holes will be plugged with wood, I thought it might be prudent to use plastic inserts with caps to cover the nuts on the back side which is not visible from anywhere in the garden. This will make it easy to access the nuts in case I have to re-tighten them from time-to-time as the material shrinks.

Ralph B.: These are already totally pressure treated. Guess the flash washed out the green look. I will be using a polyurethane glue. I have used it before outdoors and even though they say it is not as strong as Titebond lll, for example, I find it more than strong enough.

Jim: Thanks for putting a name to this joint. I figured this out on my own, but I also know that if it’s made out of wood it’s has probably been done countless times before. I think it is fun sometimes to try to reason things out and experiment a little. It’s worth the risk to get that little ‘kick’ if it works out ok.

Lee: Maybe you live in a dryer climate. I wouldn’t try this if I still lived in California, but it’s really wet here. Similar to Seattle.

One thing not mentioned above is that there is still some end-grain exposed at the end of the seat beams. I am thinking of sawing off the roughly 3/4” thick ends about 1/16” or 1/8” and then gluing a side-grain piece in the same thickness to cap the end-grain. I have also tried this before on top of an exposed leg on an outdoor plant stand and 8 years later it is still perfect. I won’t do this unless I think it looks good, so will try it on test joint first.

Thanks again to all of you for participating in my first blog. It is great to have this dialog and a great inspiration to try to do something a little strange just for fun.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View RalphB's profile


25 posts in 4610 days

#10 posted 05-27-2009 04:22 PM

In my experience, pressure treated lumber only has the preservative soaked into the outer portion of the lumber – it never reaches the inside. Just saw thru a piece of pressure treated – note the portion in the middle that is not green in color. That is why I referred to the wood as “exposed” – when the protected outer layers are cut away for a joint such as this the non-treated areas are now exposed to the elements. If you want to ensure the longest life you have to treat the inner wood – they sell the same green colored chemical by the quart at big box stores. Or I would think sealing it in with Urethane glue would accomplish the same.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4578 days

#11 posted 05-28-2009 10:51 AM

Yes, I agree with you Ralph. I’m going the polyurethane way. Thanks for you input.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5405 days

#12 posted 05-28-2009 05:08 PM

sweet!! I want one :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4578 days

#13 posted 05-29-2009 11:14 AM

Just a word of caution to those that want to make something out of wet PT wood. I found that it is very difficult to properly mark layout lines on such wet spongy wood. I tried about everything including using a marking knife and then rubbing white chalk in the cuts. Didn’t work.

The only thing that did work was soft lead pencil and even that was a bit hard to see, and more importantly not very precise.

This is not an insurmountable problem, but I recommend chopping your mortises first and then use them to size your tenons one at-a-time for each mortise. I number each mortise and matching tenon. If you are using a marking gauge for this, make sure the marks are carried over from the mortise in the same order as you will assemble it. That way if the mortise is a little off-center, your tenon will still match up properly.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View naomi weiss's profile

naomi weiss

207 posts in 4638 days

#14 posted 10-05-2009 01:52 PM

Cool joinery!

-- 'Humility is a duty in great ones, as well as in idiots'--Jeremy Taylor

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4578 days

#15 posted 10-05-2009 02:42 PM

Thanks Naomi. My favorite thing is to try to discover something new. I use the word “discover” because I’m totally convinced that just about everything that can be done with wood has already been done countless times and by smarter people than myself, nonetheless that doesn’t take away the joy of discovery one bit.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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