Making a shonky bench

Here’s a quick photo diary of me making a shonky bench for the garden. 

Firstly I selected a suitable piece of slabwood. Currently I’ve only softwood but I chose the chunkiest bit that I have.


I cut it to size which in this case was long enough for 2 people to easily sit on and then bored 4 holes at each corner 1.5 inches in diameter so accept the legs. As this is a nice thick piece I didn’t need to go all the way through (but if it was thinner I would have)


I then went to the pile of brash left over from my neighbour’s thinning of our hedges recently and chose a couple of pieces that were approximately straight.


I chose this piece for the legs; we think it’s field maple.


Using the magic of the tenon cutter – this one gives perfect 1.5 inch tenons – I quickly made up 4 legs.


On previous benches with thinner bases I’ve used a wedge to secure the leg from the top but this takes a bit more time and can end up looking even more shonky (if that’s possible), so on this occasion – and given that the mortices are nice and deep – I just glued the legs.

Finished bench stage one with some of its friends.


Going off-piste I thought I’d now try adding a back to it using this gnarly peice of hawthorn.


I cut it down to size and then roughly tidied it up using a drawknife.


Using more of the brash pile and another magic tenon cutter (this one 5/8ths of an inch) I cleaned up some thinner pieces as small rungs.


Then I drilled holes into the base and back piece (of either 1.5inch or 5/8ths respectively) and glued it all together.


It’s not a bad first attempt but it’s a bit rougher than I was after, particularly the drilling into the base. I also ended up using screws to secure the back to the base for extra stability.

I did the basic bench in under an hour, thanks to the power drill and the tenon cutter doing all the hard work. The back was probably another 2 hours mostly with me faffing getting it all lined up ready for drilling.


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