A torii inspired garden bench

Bringing it all together

I screwed and glued the front slat in place since I had good access to it, but that new aft slat was a different beast. No way to put a screw and a plug in that one! Besides, just gluing the piece in place should be more than strong enough.

I used some cauls to spread the clamping forces – remember that the clamping force spreads out at 45°. Add cauls, and the forces spread out a little more. It is a bit amusing to me when I see people use a gazillion clamps for a small jewelry box type thing, but never ever do they use cauls?

If you get squeeze-out along the entire length of the joint, you’re good. Even if the squeeze-out looks like a string of small beads the size of a pen tip. Stalagmites on your workbench after a glueup is not really a sign of good craftmanship…

In stead of sitting around watching glue dry, I filled some cracks and knot holes with epoxy which I tinted black.

I then installed the plugs in the seat slats.

My Thorex 712R persuador at the ready…

The next day, I knocked off most of the excess with a chisel and pared the plugs down flush with the slats.

The next job was one I really hate. Sanding. Most of the surfaces were good enough straight off of the hand plane, but there were some pencil marks, some small dents and all the edges needed softening. Some blending of meeting parts and surfaces too. So I donned my 3M dust mask, ear protection, insulated gloves (reduces the already small amount of vibration) and started my Bosch GEX 125-150 AVE Professional (good thing one of us is professional) and my CamVac dust collector hickeymaster. The black boa from Rockler fits great to my sander (the tape is just to cover two holes in the dust port that Bosch decided to place there for some obscure reason).

After an hour of sanding, a stack of torn Abranet sheets (those are great on surfaces, a disaster anywhere around sharp corners) and two pads of regular Mirka (I destroyed one by accident), I was done.

NOTE: Mirka Abranet has to be the best sand paper I’ve ever tried. For hand sanding and surfaces. This bench proved to me that it is NOT a good paper for applications involving sharp corners. Perhaps I need a different pad on my sander or something – I’ll have to look into that. Besides, 3M has released a “abranet type” paper that has gotten great reviews, so there is hope. I love how well Mirka Abranet work with dust collection; there were a lot more dust in the air when I switched over to the regular Mirka paper. Even with the very good dust collection the GEX 125-150 has.

With that out of the way, time for another job I hate. Finishing. Give me a paint brush, and I just want to listen to blues. Railway songs and stuff.

I am using Jotun Trebitt deck stain. It is an oil based deck stain that is thinned with water, requires just one coat (but you probably need a thin secondary one anyway) and is really though and durable. The best thing about this product, is that when the bench eventually starts showing wear, Jotun has a deck cleaner product you paint on, wait ten minutes then just scrub off again, taking the deck stain with it. Afterwards, just let the bench dry and apply new deck stain. We use this product on decks, and it works really well. My fire pan benches has stood up to the weather for over two years now, still looking pristine. They were treated with this product.

Another good thing with this product: if my inlaws don’t like the color, they can change it by doing the stain remover thing.👌

Before we apply the stain, let us take a look at some images of the completed bench in its natural color:

We chose the color 900001 “fjellbris” (mountain breeze), a washed-out grey-ish color with some warmth to it.

Dexter-ized work bench, evidence of a struggle with paint, Nitrile gloves… fishy!

After the first coat, it was clear that one coat did not cut it. The tin says no more than one coat, don’t build up a film. However, experience shows that a light second coat can be applied – stressing “light”.

I did that, and made the stainless steel “shoes” for the bottom of the legs.

I cut blanks for the shoes from a piece of 8mm stainless steel using a grinder with a cutoff wheel. I then used files and some sand paper to form and smooth the surfaces and to give the shoes a bit of a shine. I used a sharpie as a poor man’s layout fluid, marked the hole locations with calipers and punched a mark for the drill bit.

Stainless steel is relatively easy to drill, but it work hardens in the blink of an eye. Lots of cutting oil and slow drill speed to reduce the heat buildup is key! I fed the drill bit through the holes with a firm and steady pressure. The through holes were 3.5mm which were drilled at 800 RPM, the minor countersink was 7mm cut at 500 RPM, and I used a 13mm bit to ream the edges.

And just like that, the bench was finished! On the last page, we’ll look at some images of the thing.

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