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Curved Garden Bench from Cedar Laminations

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Picture of Curved Garden Bench from Cedar Laminations
This year we decided to remodel our back yard.  At one end is a circular gravel area with a new fire pit at the center.  We needed extra seating and somewhere along the line decided to build a curved garden bench so more people could sit around the fire pit.

The shape of the bench was dictated by the radius of the gravel area in the landscape plan.  We selected an internal radius of 83 in with eight 1.5 inch wide rails spaced an inch apart. This gives an outer radius of 92 in and a bench “width” of 19 inches.  We wanted the bench to extend  for 90 degrees to fit in with the design and accommodate at least 5 people.
 
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Step 1: Design

Picture of Design
bench model - underside view.jpg
dimensioned drawing.jpg
The bench is built by gluing thin strips of ¼ in thick cedar into rails.  The thickness was selected to make sure we could bend the strips and a local cedar product supplier cut and milled the lumber to size.

For this type of glue up you need to build a form so that the pieces can be clamped together while the glue sets. 
To get all the dimensions correct and to design the form I decided to model the entire bench and the form using 3D modeling software.

The following picture shows the dimensions sketch which calculates the position of each rail from the internal radius, rail width and spacing.  The second screen shot shows the 3D model created from the sketch including the posts and support beams. 

Another advantage of creating a 3D model was to create an exact drawing for the location of the posts which helped the landscape contractor to install them very precisely - see the third screen shot.
cihooi1 year ago
Veri nice work
james123cb1 year ago
Great design! thanks for sharing
very cool, i'm impressed by how thorough you were! what i'm dying to see is the steel drilling jig though cuz i have an application where a good one would be sooo helpful.

thanks!

john
sjbosley (author)  johnnywill082 years ago
The jig is a very simple piece that I made from 2 x 1/2 inch hot-rolled steel - the kind you find at Home Depot. it's held together with threaded spacers and some 1/4-20 machine screw. The idea is simply to hold the drill bit in allignment and stop it wandering as you drill through 18 inches of material. In truth I did it in two stages, i.e. drilled 4 rails and then set up and drilled the remaining from the other direction. In the picture you can see it's screwed onto one of the curved claming blocks which I then clamped in place.
photo.JPG
thanks alot for sending that along, a nice simple solution.
ps, i know you said see pic, but i couldnt find, apologies if i missed it, first time here...
Timmah2 years ago
very nice! how would you rate this on a handyman skill scale? from very easy to very hard?
sjbosley (author)  Timmah2 years ago
This is at the very hard end of the range. You need some woodworkign experience. You also need an assistant - it would be impossilble to do the assembly by yourself.
jmray2 years ago
Impressive! Congratulations on this and the whole project. Does cedar laminate hold up well? Will you have to re-seal it often?
sjbosley (author)  jmray2 years ago

Thank you. We chose cedar because of its resistance in outdoor applications. We also used Titebond III waterproof adhesive for the same reason. That said the joints between the laminations are the weakest area. I’m planning to apply sealer twice a year – once in the fall and once in the spring. Since we live in the Pacific NW I’m also making a close fitting cover for the rainy season.
Heh, rainy season. You mean 'Everything but August. Maybe.'

Note: I live on the Oregon coast. It's astonishing we haven't developed as many words for rain as the Inuit supposedly have for snow.
sjbosley (author)  slaitch2 years ago
Good one. I'm in the Willamette valley so we get at least 2 months of summer!
The Inuit have what, 35? 60? words for snow.. Look up how many words we have for getting drunk!!!
is there any particular reason you decided to go with titebond and not a purpose-made marine grade epoxy apart from the smell? The bench looks great and I'd hate to see it come apart due to creep from the still semi-liquid wood glue. The rails underneath the laminations should help resist creep to some degree but I would keep a close eye on it.
sjbosley (author)  eggplanthunter2 years ago
With 48 separate glue joints I just wanted to avoide the more toxic adhesives. There are 1/2 inch carriage bolts in the radial direction and I'm probably going to add 2 more near the ends. I think this will hold eveything in place. The bigger risk in my view is water seeping in at the glue lines. We already decided to make a cover for the rainy season for this reason. I'm hopeful that between the conver and applying sealant twice a year that it will hold up well.
danzo3212 years ago
Titebond III is the long-awaited true outdoor glue. II was almost there..
july19622 years ago
I always wanted a project I could use those 100 clamps in my garage! ;-)
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