Monday, May 9, 2016

Live Edge Bench

I was really at a loss last week as to what to get my mom for Mother's Day. But luckily, my wife is a problem solver when it comes to gift giving, and she suggested I make a bench for her garden or yard. We poured over Pinterest posts and Ana White tutorials, trying to find something not so permanent, so it could be used in multiple locations. Ultimately, I gleaned a little from each and just decided to create my own design.

Then when contemplating what the top would look like, Becky came through again, pointing to a stack of live edge boards I'd purchased from RepoCast last year and had no plan for. I sorted through them and found the best looking one, where the bark was still pretty intact and had some interesting pattern.

It was an 8' slab, but not all of it looked great, and a 6' bench is much easier to manage, so I started planning my base purchase.

I went with Cedar for the base instead of pressure treated, both because it would look more natural and because it would be much lighter. Pressure treated wood is so heavy and has that ugly green/grey look to it, so despite the added expense, I thought Cedar would be best.

(1) 8' 4x4 Cedar Post
(3) 8' 2x4 Cedar Boards
2" and 3" outdoor wood screws
(1) quart Outdoor Spar Varnish
(4) 2" foam brushes

Since the slab was only 12" at it's narrowest, near the center, I decided instead of wrapping the outside of the 4x4 posts, I'd put the supports down the center. I also wanted to screw the slab on from the bottom, which required a sort of different base design.

I started by cutting the 4x4 down to 4 equal 18" posts. Then I cut the 2x4's down to 6' and created two base pieces using the 3" screws.

Then, I secured those together by putting the last 2x4 down the center. Though, instead of using the scrap from the first two cuts for the ends, I cut the ends out of the third 2x4, so it ended up shorter than 6'. This was an unfortunate oversight, but because it was on the underside, it didn't really matter.

Using the 3" screws, I first added the center 2x4. Then I added the end caps. So to do the math, the center runner ended up being just 6.5" (1.5"x2 plus the 3.5" center board). the depth at the posts was 13.5" (adding 3.5" per post), which was perfect since at its widest, the slab was just shy of 14".

Then it was time to attach the top. I put the slab on the concrete, turned the base over and stood on it while I drove 2" screws down the center. I used a total of 10 screws, in pairs of two in five places down the center 2x4.

I then trimmed the end of the slab off, since it ran long on one side (where some bark was falling off and it wasn't so pretty), using a circular saw and a steady hand. I also had to reattach a small piece of bark that was starting to come off. I threw some wood glue under it and clamped it down.

I then took an orbital sander and some 220 grit sandpaper to the top, wiped off the excess sawdust and debris and got to work with the poly. I did 3 coats, and it took some work. Getting in all those cracks and crevasses in the bark takes some care and attention.

All in all, a pretty quick and easy project, and my mom loved it!

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