A torii inspired garden bench


A long and fun build! prototyping like this is a lot of work. With just a crude set of dimensions to work with, each part has to be made to fit within the constraints given by those dimensions. Making more benches of the same design will be a lot easier since I now have a complete set of dimensions and cut list. And the woopsies have been done…

It is now January with temperatures hovering around 0℃, it’s snowy and in general not very pleasant outside. Not for lounging on a garden bench with a mug o’Joe, at least.

I am very happy with the bench design, and would love to make one from hardwood. I think it would look gorgeous in quartersawn oak!

The Torii-inspired elements is discrete and subtle, and adds character to an otherwise run-of-the-mill, common and otherwise boring design. The curved seat, the angle of the back rest and the arm rest design makes the bench very comfortable. It seats three adults and is long enough to slouch in – which to me is vital for any sofa, chair or bench! I don’t usually sit around looking like I’ve gotten the shaft of a pry bar jammed up my spine. I’m more into the “potato sack look”. Comfy as can be!

Here’s a slide show of the final product:

There’s lots of ways to build a bench like this. If we cut a lot of corners, the bench could be made both cheaper and in a much easier way. But by using traditional joinery we get a bench that will stand the test of time, and if cared for it will last for decades if not longer. This is a key point for my woodworking: making things that lasts. A well made piece of furniture can last for generations! Of course styles and taste change over time, and so a piece will become obsolete or outdated in time. I therefore have no objection to do changes to a piece in order to make it useful again. An old fir dining table that’s completely outdated and fugly as can be, can be made into a beautiful piece of furniture by staining, painting or rebuilding it. Reuse, reshape, upcycle and recycle! You can’t do that with cardboard “furniture” from IKEA.

The Torii usually marks the entrance to a sacred spot in nature. If there is one thing I think most of us have learned through the Covid pandemic, it is that the human connection and interaction indeed are sacred. Without companionship and someone to talk to, life quickly becomes hard for any of us.

The Torii-inspired bench therefore serves as a mark for a sacred space: A good bench for long, friendly conversations.

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