Marc - Today I wanna show you how to build
a simple and sturdy outdoor bench,
and then we're gonna kick it up with some,
Now the inspiration for this piece
came from a bench that I saw outside
of my wife's lady part's doctor.
And, she's pregnant right now,
so every two weeks we're going in and out of the office.
But I saw this bench sitting there
and, of course, I wanted to inspect it.
Maybe even take some measurements, but like a good husband,
I escorted her up to the doctor's office.
Made sure she was comfortable, rubbed her feet,
all that stuff, and then I came back down
and inspected the bench.
Now, I was inspired to build one,
but I wanted to use this as a lesson for design.
I don't consider myself a really great designer,
but I can share my process and maybe it'll help you out.
For me it's a two stage process.
Number one, I design something that
satisfies the core functionality I'm looking for.
Making sure it's strong enough,
making sure the proportions look pretty good,
and that the joinery is designed
to do what it's supposed to do.
Then, and only then, will I start to embellish the piece
and make it look a little bit more fancy,
a little more customized,
and maybe a little bit more like my personal style.
And that's the lesson we're gonna go through today.
I'm gonna build a basic version inspired by
that one outside the doctor's office,
and then we'll just soup it up a little bit.
We'll add some spoilers and fins and just see where it goes.
Alright, let's look at the wood.
Now, the wood I'm going with is African Mahogany.
And the reason I chose that species
is because it's worked well for me in the past.
Now, you may not necessarily even find this wood
on your, sort of, top five, top ten lists
of outdoor friendly woods, but it does have rot resistance
and, in my personal experience,
I have a few chairs out of African Mahogany
that have done very well outside.
So, I'm hopeful that this will work well for the bench.
Now when it comes to outdoor wood, you got quite a spectrum.
You have your really expensive stuff up at Teak and Epay,
and then you have the more fairly priced stuff
like Cedar and Cypress.
Right, so you've got a lot of choices.
It doesn't really matter what you use.
Use something that's available, that you can afford,
and you like the way it looks.
And, for me, this African Mahogany was
kind of middle-of-the-road price wise,
and I've got experience with it that shows me
that it holds up pretty well in the
environment I'm gonna put it in.
So, use whatever you want, this is what I'm gonna use.
Let's start cutting this stuff up.
Using the cut list, I strategize the placement of my parts
for the best grain, as well as the best use of material.
Each leg is made up of three pieces,
so it's a good idea to get them all
from the same piece of stock,
giving us the best color and grain match.
For longer pieces, like the aprons and rails,
it's important to use boards that are already nice and flat,
otherwise they'll be too thin after planing.
If you have some wavy boards,
use those for the shorter aprons and slats.
I break the parts down at the miter saw
and then rough cut everything at the band saw.
I try to cut everything extra wide at this stage.
This is especially important on the longer pieces
since those have a better chance of warping after the cut.
Now all the pieces are roughly cut to size
and I'm gonna work on one part at a time.
And, first, we're gonna start with the legs.
Now the legs are about two and quarter inches square,
or as close as we can get to that dimension,
and to get to that extra thickness there,
we're gonna use three pieces and glue them together.
Now in the ideal world, we'd have material
that was thick enough to this all in one shot,
but this is all I got is this four quarter stock,
so three pieces should do the trick.
So, I'm just gonna mill up both faces,
and then we'll be able to glue these together
and create our leg blanks.
Each leg piece is jointed on one face.
The other face is then planed parallel to the first.
Don't worry about the edges just yet.
Arrange three pieces for each leg so that the
grain is aligned in a way that makes visual sense.
Now I'll spread a generous amount
of glue on each glue surface.
I'm using Titebond III for it's
outdoor friendly characteristics.
The boards are then sandwiched together and clamped.
I'm using two stripes of MDF as cauls
to help distribute the clamping pressure,
but also to protect the mahogany.
Even though the pieces have rough edges,
you still wanna make sure they aren't slipping
too far past one another as the pressure is applied.
By the way, if you're short on clamps,
you can easily glue up two legs
at once to help speed things up.
As you can see, I'm very fortunate
to not be short on clamps.
Once the glue is dry, sand any of the excess squeeze out
and head to the jointer.
We can now mill our legs to final dimension
as if they were one single piece of solid stock.
While planing, you'll wanna send each piece
through twice at each setting,
hitting two faces and keeping the blank nice and square.
If you wind up just a little bit less
than two and quarter inches, don't worry.
Your legs will still work just fine.
With a stop lock in place,
I can cut all four legs to their final length.
Now let's do some joinery.
Now, I've got my legs all grouped together,
oriented the way I want them to go.
And you can see my grain is consistent through these pieces.
And I've just labeled them
front left, rear left, rear right, front right.
And, I also placed a mark on the top here,
just to remind me where those mortises are gonna go,
'cause that's gonna be the next step.
So, let's take these apart and we'll be able to
lay out the mortises on one of our legs.
So here's one fully laid out and ready to go,
and the reason I do this is because
it really is a common sense check.
I make sure that everything is
located where it's supposed to be.
The size of the mortise is what it's supposed to be
and I compare this directly against
my drawings on the SketchUp file.
Once I have this done on one, I can be pretty confident
and use this for my set up, because on the rest of them,
all I really need are two marks.
You can see I've got the mark on the end grain
showing me which side my mortise will be located on.
And I've got a square here,
set up to three-eighths of an inch,
so I need a line for that three-eighths.
Another one set for one and one-eighth.
We'll do this on the other side as well for this mark.
And those are the only marks we need.
Those are start and stop points for the router,
because the router setup is gonna do the rest of the work.
All you need here is the router
and the edge guide and the bit.
And I've got a three-eighths cinch spiral bit.
Up cut is preferred, but you could
use down cut if you needed to.
This is all we really need to make repeated mortises.
Let's get the setup going.
I secure a small piece of MDF to the bench as a stop
and then bring two of my leg blanks together, top to top.
Position them so the mortises
on each leg are on the same side.
The legs are then clamped securely to the bench
and the MDF strip keeps things aligned.
The router is then setup,
aligning the bit with the layout lines.
And the depth is set using the turret stop.
My strategy for mortising is pretty simple.
I start by plunging the front of the mortise at full depth.
I then do the same thing at the back.
Now I can remove the material between the holes
in two to three passes, going deeper each time.
The reason for prerouting the start
and stop points is two fold.
First, it allows me to accurately
establish the start and stop points of the mortise.
Second, it gives me a clear zone,
so that even when I can't see what the bit is doing,
I can feel the end of the cut and stop before I go too far.
Using the same setup I can route
the mortise on the second leg.
Two down, six to go.
When repositioning the legs,
be careful to note the position of the mortises
and make sure you'll always referencing
from the same side of the leg.
In my case, I'm referencing from the inside surfaces.
Using dust collection, the routing is a little less messy,
but it's still hard to see.
The start and stop holes will prove very helpful.
When all the mortises are cut,
bring the legs together again
just to double check the layout.
Now, the rest of this project stock needs to be
milled down to three quarters of an inch
and we'll just do everything at once.
Well, now that all of our pieces are milled to size,
we can do a little bit more mortising.
The top, long pieces have quite a few
mortises for all of those slats.
We'll use the same methodology
we used before with the router and the edge guide,
only this time we're gonna use a quarter inch bit.
The layout is done on both rail pieces
while they're clamped together.
Consult the plans for the proper spacing.
It's easy to get confused here,
so make sure you clearly note the mortise areas.
The edge guide is then positioned,
so that the bit is centered on the thickness of the rail.
Notice that I'm keeping the rails clamped together
as it helps stabilize the router.
If you still have trouble with balance,
add a third piece to the stack.
Now I know this is a lot of routing,
but I think it's worth it.
True mortise and tenon joints are incredibly strong
and they'll serve our bench well throughout the years.
All you need to make the mortises is a router,
and edge guide, and some patience.
When all the mortises are done are one rail,
flip the assembly around and do the other rail.
Well, that was a lot of mortises,
but now we need to move on to the tenons
and we'll use the table saw and a dado stack to cut those.
I use a cutting gauge to scribe the shoulder lines.
This helps with setting up the saw on the next step
while also helping us prevent tear out.
The aprons, the narrow slats, and the wide slats
have slightly different tenons, so I lay out one of each.
At the table saw, set up the dado stack
for a three-quarter inch wide cut.
Use the layout lines to set the blade height conservatively,
and use the cut shoulder line to set up the fence position.
Now make the cuts and use a test piece
if you have on available.
The fit is a little bit snug,
so we'll raise the blade and cut again.
And that's the fit we're going for.
Now we can cut our actual work pieces.
Now we can use the same set up for the slats,
only we'll have to change the blade height.
You might have noticed that we have a bit of a
square peg, round hole situation,
so we'll round over the sides of all of our tenons.
I use a chisel and a rasp to get the job done quickly.
And that's what we're going for.
Now, if some of your tenons are too tight,
use a shoulder plane to peel some material
off the tenon cheek and sneak up on that fit.
Well that sure is a lot of rounding over of tenon,
so you might be wondering is this the
most efficient way to get the job done.
Well, like anything in wood working,
there are multiple ways to get the job done.
For instance, with those mortises,
if I used a hollow chisel mortiser,
I would have had square mortises to begin with
and it would have been unnecessary to do this.
You can certainly square the mortises
yourself with a chisel if you wanted to,
but I find that to be more labor intensive
than just doing this rounding over.
Now, with this many tenons,
it probably would've been more efficient
to come up with another option.
Something like the Festool Domino.
You can even substitute pocket screws for all of these.
Dowels would've worked just fine.
In some cases, biscuits would've been okay,
but they're a little bit shallow
and I think we need a little more strength with this.
So, long tenons are probably your best bet.
Okay, so there's a lot of different ways.
Before you even ask the question,
"Why didn't you use X, Y, or Z?"
The reason is because I like to show you methods
that involve a limited set of tools,
even if they mean a little bit more work.
And this way, everyone can do it.
And if you're got an easier method,
then by all means, do it.
So, now with all the mortises and tenons cut,
we can do an assembly
and get a look at what the bench actually looks like.
Alright, well what we have here is what I'm considering
the basic version of the bench.
Everything's still fairly square,
but in and of itself, the design is quite nice.
I mean, I think I'd be happy with this as it is right now,
but we can do a few more things that will
beautify it, at least in my opinion,
and make it look a little bit more elegant.
Now, you may disagree with me,
this is where it ventures off into a matter of taste.
So, you can do whatever you want with your own bench.
I'm gonna add a few details to the top, as well as the legs,
that I think will really refine this piece
and make it look just that much better.
First, I'm gonna cut a slight curve into the slats.
I made a template from scrap that's about an
eighth of an inch in at the center point
and stops just a bit short of the tenon shoulder.
With the curve drawn on each slat,
we can make the cuts at the band saw.
If you have an oscillating spindle sander,
you can make quick work of cleaning up the curved face.
If not, you can use a flexible sanding strip
and scrapers to do the cleanup.
And here's a cool trick,
if you line up all of the cut slats between the rails
and press them together with clamps,
you can sand all of them at once
making sure the curves match up perfectly.
While we're working on the slats,
I'll take a moment to use my smoother to clean up the edges.
The smoother is much faster and leaves edges
that are nice and clean and square,
whereas a sander would tend to round them over.
Now let's work on those legs.
I'm gonna add a six inch taper to the two inside faces.
The taper will remove a quarter inch
of material at the bottom of the leg.
I'll use a shop-made tapering jig to make the cuts.
The jig is just a piece of ply
with a three-quarter inch runner for the miter slot.
The leg is then held in place with clamps and stops,
allowing me to pass it through the blade at a slight angle.
Make sure you plan the order of cuts
so that the first taper faces up
when doing the second taper cut.
The tapers lighten the look of the legs
and give them just a little bit more elegance.
With the tapers cut, I'll add a slight crown to the legs.
I made a little template that I can use
for reference on the end grain.
As you can see, we're adding this crown
to the two outside faces only.
I'll use the same template on the bottom of the legs,
making sure it's flush with the outside faces.
Because of the tapers, the template will overhang
the inside faces here at the bottom.
To do the shaping, I'll use my jack plane.
I'll keep an eye on the end grain marks
as I remove the material on the face of the leg.
Once I'm down to the pencil line on one side,
I can move on to the other side.
A flexible sanding strip can be quite useful once again
as the legs are smoothed to perfection.
A final hand sanding breaks all the edges
and preps the leg for finish.
And speaking of finish prep,
now's a good time to run all of our slats
and aprons over the router table
to put an eighth inch round over on the edges.
Remember to only put a round over
on the bottom edge of the apron pieces
and the outside edges of the seat rails.
For the slats, you can put the work piece
on it's side to do the routing.
Well, now it's time to do the assembly
and I'm gonna use Titebound III
because it is the ultimate wood glue,
rated number one by pros.
Actually, it is a real good glue
for outdoors stuff like this
and it gives me a little bit more
working time which is essential, especially here in Arizona.
Things dry very quickly and I need as much time as possible.
Especially for that top, and that's where we're gonna start.
We're gonna put all those little slats into the mortises
and try to get that thing glued up before it starts to dry.
I'm putting glue in all the mortises,
but the only tenons that get glue
are the outside wide slats.
Normally, I'd put glue on all the tenons,
but in this case, I'm working against the clock
and if I get lots of squeeze out,
it could be a major cleanup issue.
This part can be a little tricky,
so I get the first tenon started
and then hold it in place with a clamp.
I can then get the remaining tenons aligned
with their mortises and tap them into place.
Once the tenons are aligned,
I'll use clamps to pull everything together.
The legs and aprons are a little bit easier.
I'll do side sub assemblies first.
A little clamping pressure should do the trick,
and notice how I taped on some scrap
to help protect the face of the leg.
Now, before I glue the long apron in place,
I wanna attach a few cleats.
Now the SketchUp drawing shows one long cleat,
but there's no reason why we can't
break it up into smaller pieces.
I just don't happen to have any material that long anymore.
So, I'm gonna attach it with glue and screws
to the inside face of the apron.
And then I'm going to predrill for screws,
so that we have a means to attach the top to the bench.
I'll drill two holes for attaching to the apron
and three for attaching to the top.
With some glue on the cleat, I use clamps to align
it with the top edge of the apron.
Make sure you're counter sunk holes
are facing the right way.
A couple of one and an eighth inch
stainless screws will do the trick.
All six of my cleats are attached in the same manner.
Now, I can attach the aprons to the side sub assemblies.
By the way, I don't often have many guests in the shop,
but when I do, I put their butts to work.
Say, "Hi" to Rich.
I gave all the parts an over night cure period
and started the next day with a finish sanding.
Everything is sanded to 220 grit.
And the bottom of the legs are chamfered
to help prevent future tear out.
Well, now we get to do everybody's
favorite part of wood working, finishing.
For an outdoor project, you really do need to think about
a strategic approach for your finish,
depending on the climate you live in
and the sort of exposure it's gonna have.
You can cater the finish to your needs,
as well as how much work you wanna do in the future.
Because no finish really lasts forever outside.
But there are some finishes that're
a little more bulletproof than others
and we're gonna do one of those here today.
Taking some inspiration from the boating world.
The first product we're gonna use is call CPES.
That's Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer.
Now, if you've used Epoxy,
you kind of understand what it is.
This is a much more loose version
that we can paint onto the surface, let it absorb,
and it provides a great foundation for our top coat
and the top coat is going to be a marine varnish.
This is called Epifanes. A very thick varnish.
We can thin it out, wipe it on.
You can brush it on, however you wanna apply it.
But, we'll add a few coats on top of this sealed material.
And, okay, it's not quite bulletproof,
but it's gonna basically insure
that I don't have to refinish this thing every year.
Let's start with the CPES.
This stuff is pretty nasty to work with,
so be sure to use a respirator.
Combine equal parts of resin and activator
and mix well for two minutes.
Even though it's Epoxy, the material is
brushed on like any other finish.
I'll keep adding extra finish to the thirsty end grains,
'cause that's the part that's going to touch the ground.
The wood soaks this stuff up pretty readily.
Once I finish one of the legs,
I move on to the apron and work my way around
the entire base of the bench.
Everything gets coated inside and out.
For the seat, I'll start with the underside first.
Any runs or drips can be cleaned up
when I flip the piece over and work on the show surface.
I let the Epoxy dry for 24 hours
and then give it a light 320 grit sanding.
If the sandpaper gums up,
you need to let the Epoxy cure longer.
Vacuum up any remaining dust
and get ready for the second coat of Epoxy.
This time, the surface doesn't soak it up as quickly,
so you can work a little bit faster.
Once again, every nook and cranny is coated.
The second coat will be allowed to cure overnight
and I'll apply the first coat of varnish
first thing in the morning.
I'm using Epifanes' clear varnish,
thinned about 50 percent with mineral spirits.
The secret sauce in this process
is that we're intentionally applying
the varnish before the Epoxy layer is fully cured.
This way, the varnish isn't just
coating the Epoxy, it's being glued to it.
This is what'll help prevent the varnish
from bubbling and flaking in the future.
The varnish is applied with care
using a decent, natural bristle brush.
Because the varnish is thinned,
it should have no problems leveling out
and hiding our brush marks.
I left the first coat of varnish dry over night,
then I lightly sand with 320 grit and apply a second coat.
After the second coat of varnish is dry,
I switch over to Epifanes' woodfinish matte.
This stuff will knock down the high gloss sheen
and give us a much more attractive looking bench.
The regular Epifanes gloss is so glossy,
that you can't really even tell which slats are wet
and which ones are dry.
I'll apply two coats of this stuff
and each coat is diluted by about
10 percent with mineral spirits.
But check out what happens as the
first coat of matte begins to dry.
Once fully cured, it's time to attach the base to the top.
A small blanket helps prevent scratching
as I line up the base and drive the screws.
On my outdoor projects, I like the tops to be
removable for repair and refinishing,
so there's no need for glue here.
Alright, well this is looking pretty good.
The matte finish, I think, is really the way to go.
For me personally, I don't really like
the high gloss finishes.
Now outside, a high gloss finish will probably
do better because it reflects a lot
of that harmful UV light.
But, the thing is, I just don't like the look of it,
so I'll go with the matte, we'll see how it holds up.
But it is an Epifanes product, so I feel pretty confident
that it's gonna last quite a long time,
especially with that Epoxy undercoating.
Alright, now just a few extra details.
You can see, took the design from something fairly simple.
And we didn't go nuts with it, right?
We just added a couple details
with that taper on the inside of the legs.
The crown on the outside faces.
And the curvature of the slats in the seat.
And that's just such a minor detail,
but it's amazing how much of a difference
it makes when you sit in it and you realize,
"Oh, that's actually quite nice."
So little details can make the difference in the final piece
and you can see you don't have to over embellish.
There's a point where you go too far,
you add too many things,
or maybe you take too many things away.
So it's a practice of restraint as well.
Okay, but I'm happy with the result.
I can't wait to put this outside
and just see how it holds up over the years.
Hopefully you'll build one too.
Let me know what you think about it
and, hey, if you're not in the mood
to do all these mortises and tenons,
use one of the other million ways
that you can put pieces of wood together.
But, if you wanna do mortise and tenons, hey,
it's a great project to practice on.
Thanks for watching.