View RSS Feed

Shawn Pixley

Design on the fly

Rate this Entry
I usually design things out. Sometimes, however I just work on the fly. LOML wanted a bench and a mat for our entry. I had a couple of slabs that I picked up a couple of years ago. Time to get to work.

The first was a slab of urban forested California Pepper. It was ~3" thick and ~6' long with a wane edge on each side. It also had some serious checks in the ends. It did however have a crotch and some nice spalt. First was to stabilize the piece. I had it stored for two years and it was air-dried for a number of years before I got it.

I put dutchman on the bottom.

Dutchman mortise.jpgDutchman Mortise 2.jpg

Afterwards it was a day of flattening the slab with hand planes - first the jack then the jointer. I created about 30 gallons worth of shavings that day.


After cleaning up the wane edges, I started to lay-out the bench seat that this would become. The niche is 5'-2" wide so the bench was going to be 5' even. I established a longitudinal centerline and the perpendicular centerline of the crotch. After establishing the end points, I radiused and beveled them (hand saw and sharp plane). Working on the heavy slab presented its own challenges (move work to piece not piece to bench). I then moved on to the legs. I didn't want them spindly nor did I want them slab like. I settled on a flared and tapered combination that is mortised into the bottom of the slab. One mortise is over-sized and unglued to allow for wood movement.

Glue up.jpgLayout.jpg

Now I could move on to the back. I had an interesting if broken urban forested Chinese Elm slab. This would become the back. I decided to support it from two legs at the seat's crotch. The legs and seat slabs were mortised together.


The back was then fastened to the legs with (2) Stainless Steel lag bolts (yes I know that using screws is cheating). They were recessed and then had a plug installed over the top. Since it was going to sit outside (covered and out of the rain and would receive no direct sunlight) I used the System 3 Epoxy finish with their Spar Varnish. This worked really well. I needed to thin the spar a bit to avoid leaving brush marks. I built an entry mat to go along with the bench.

Bench 1.jpgMat 1.jpg