Monday, April 9, 2012

DIY Redwood Garden Bench

What a bench. Rawr.

A couple of weekends ago I felt the itch to make something challenging but still simple. Basically, if it took more  thought than making chili I would have ditched the project midway and gone back to finishing Mass Effect 3 (20 hours and counting...). Luckily Popular Mechanics had the prefect spring time project: an outdoor bench.

The bench design is simple and requires only structural lumber, threaded rods, and stain. Well, that and a table saw which I could have really used back when I made the entertainment center. The nice thing about doing a project out of a magazine is that there isn't much to think about. No figuring out sizes, cut and drill locations, or assembly instructions. I went to the local big box and grabbed some redwood (the instructions say to use cedar, but that's hard to come by out here and redwood will weather well enough for my needs).

The cut pieces
That does make this a little less interesting to write. Basically all I did was cut the 2x4's (main pieces), 1x4's (spacers), and 4x4's (legs) to length. And then I used the table saw. And I cut, and cut, and cut, and cut fins out of the 4x4's, notching the legs and creating the central building points that the bench would be formed from.

This took a lot of cuts to get it down to this point
 So this really did take a good 20+ minutes of just passing legs over and over the saw blade. Finishing  followed by breaking off the "tabs" and cleaning up the edges with a sharp chisel.

All that cut wood needed to go somewhere
Cleanup was not fun.

The spacers (square 1x4's) were Gorilla-glued and nailed in set spots on the slats (2x4's). Holes for the threaded rods (which run through each piece of wood and hold the bench together) were then drilled through all the pieces of wood. A jig was utilized to maintain a consistent hole location in all of the pieces.
I glued and clamped the parts together to the point where I could fasten the bench with the threaded rod. Dowels were used to fill in the holes on the ends (needed for the threaded rod), the excess was sawed off, and the bench assembly was finished.
Assembled, before finishing.
The final steps were sanding and staining the wood. The staining wasn't especially hard, aside from getting into the narrow nooks and crannies, but the stain was much, much darker than I thought. So, not perfect, but honestly? I'm really happy with it. The design looks great, the bench is very strong, and the stain should keep the wood safe through years of weathering. And now I feel like I'm a decent plan away from making a whole furniture set.