A torii inspired garden bench


I’m going to use mortise and tenon joinery for this bench. The mortises are sized to about 1/3 of the width. I’m leaving a 5mm cosmetic shoulder on the top and bottom edge. This will be helpful when the joints comes together – they are going to be dead tight on all sides.

After marking the mortise with my marking knife and the Veritas marking gauge, I chopped the mortises with a bench chisel. That marking gauge is now locked and won’t be touched for the duration of the project (at least the joinery part), as it is set to center the mortise in the stock I’m using. And this practice is why you need more than one of those. 😎

During mortising, I encountered a knot which most likely would split on me if I tried to chisel it out. I used a saw to cut through the knot, then carefully removed the waste. I made sure that the whole knot was removed before completing the mortise.

For the tenons, I cut the waste off with a saw, then sneak up to a perfect fit with my router plane. Tip: for long tenons, add a flat board to the sole of the router plane. That way you can have a far longer reach than using the metal sole of the plane on its own.

By undercutting the tenon shoulders, we get crisp joint lines and the glue squeeze-out has a place to go. This also lets ut compress the joint slightly, closing any gaps. In this image, you may also notice that I failed to get down to the knife wall on the left hand side. It is just a fraction of a millimeter, but it prevented the joint from closing. I pared the section away with a chisel, and the joint closed neatly. I’ll also point out that paring pine end grain is a difficult undertaking – you need a really sharp chisel to get crisp edges. The result I got on this tenon shoulder told me it was time to sharpen up. The chisel still cut like butter, however it left some white colored areas where the wood fibres are torn out in stead of sliced. A few seconds on the strop fixed that.

I cut the arc in the seat side aprons with the band saw and refined with a spokeshave.

After making all the mortises and tenons for the side frames, I did a quick mock-up to visualize and determine how to proceed. It is always nice to do this, as the project goes from 2D to 3D in a way. A couple of holdfasts and a two-by held the side frames in place.

I then proceeded with the seat rails and the lower rail for the back. Here are some images from the process:

With the seat rails and the lower back rail completed, I assembled everything to check my progress:

This’ll work!

On the next page, we’ll add the seat supports and work on the back.

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