Make an Arts & Crafts style bench (or table)
I came across these benches - or tables - in an overseas catalogue. This Arts & Crafts style is extremely sturdy and I thought it might be nice to make a couple for outdoors - sort of a table that can be used as extra seating when needed.
You will need:
 1.8m length of 44 x 44mm pine
 1.8m length of 110 x 22mm pine
 1.8m length of 44 x 22mm pine
Pockethole jig or brackets
Ponal wood glue
22mm spade bit
Jigsaw and speed cut blade
Bosch orbital sander plus 80-, 120 and 180- grit sanding pads.
Woodoc 10 sealer and imbuia stain concentrate
Woodoc steel wool
NOTE: The legs in this project have a 5-degree angle at the top and bottom. If you do not have a mitre saw to do this, leave the legs straight.
1. Use a mitre saw set at a 5-degree angle to cut the top and bottom of the legs.
2. On the two side panels position the legs 10mm in from each edge and mark with a pencil down each side of the legs.
3. Mark at 10mm in from top and bottom.
4. Use a jigsaw to cut out the 10mm strip to create a tenon.
The mortise and tenon joint in its basic form is both simple and strong though there are many variations on the joint that create a wide range of complexities depending on the application.
The basic mortise and tenon comprises two components: the mortise hole (female) and the tenon (male). The tenon is formed to the end of a member generally referred to as a rail and is inserted into a square or rectangular hole cut into the corresponding member.
The tenon is cut to fit the mortise hole exactly and usually has shoulders that seat when the joint fully enters the mortise hole. The joint may be glued, pinned, or wedged to lock it in place.
5. Position the cut tenon against the top of each leg and mark the shape of the tenon on the leg. Use a tape measure to determine and the centre of the tenon shape.
6. Use a 22mm spade bit - the same thickness as the wood - to drill out the centre of the leg.
Drill two holes with the spade bit, but only so that the tip of the spade bit peeps through the other side.
Turn the wood over and continue to drill from this side. This provides a much neater finish.
DO clamp the leg securely and hold the drill firmly, as sometimes there are hard sections in the wood.
7. Use the jigsaw to neaten up the mortise.
Go slowly from one end of the hole to the other to shape the hole to be square and neat.
Another alternative is to use wood chisels to remove the excess wood.
Dry fit the joins to ensure a snug fit, or adjust where necessary.
8. Apply wood glue to the back part of the tenon and insert into the mortise (holes that you have drilled out in the legs). Leave to dry.
9. Use the pockethole jig to drill holes into the edges of all the side sections. Screw the side sections to the top of the legs.
Make sure that the legs are the right way wrong. I screwed the entire frame together before I realised that all the legs were facing in instead of out!
10. Now that the frame is assembled, use wood filler to fill in any gaps. Once dry, sand smooth.
11. Drill pocketholes into the side supports, insert and screw these into position.
12. Drill pocketholes into the underside of the
centre support, insert and screw into
13. Attach the top to the frame with angle brackets screwed into the underside of the top and into the frame sides.
14. For the ‘V’ frame I first cut one
end of each section at a 45-degree
angle, then placed both sections
against the underside of the
top and the centre support and
marked the cutting position. Use a jigsaw to cut.
15. Attach the ‘V’ frame by screwing through
the underside of the centre frame into each
section, and through each section into the
underside of the base.
This was the fun part. I decided that I didn’t want to just stain and seal, but also give the table/bench a more rustic and aged look.
Start off by choosing the colour you want for the finish. I went with an Imbuia stain concentrate that was added to Woodoc 10 interior sealer.
Apply 3 coats in total. After the first coat is dry, rub
down with Woodoc steelwool and then apply the
second coat. Once dry you simply brush on the third
and final coat.
Use 60-grit sandpaper and steelwool on the edges. The steelwool softens the look. For a satin finish, rub down the entire table/bench lightly with steelwool.
As opposed to stain and seal, you can also paint your bench for a more cottage/country effect. Use a slightly watered down acrylic PVA and apply as many coats as required to achieve your desired effect.
To distress, use a sanding sponge or 80-grit sandpaper to ‘roughen’ the edges and remove the paint.