Introduction: "3 Tool" Rustic Bench

About: artist/maker

Materials/tools Needed:

Stock - Something at least 3 inches thick and 8-10 inches wide. I found this piece of reclaimed beam that had been converted into a mantel and then broken again, so I made it into this bench. Whatever you have will need to be at least 33 inches longer than you want your bench to be.

Glue - Just your normal wood glue. I used Titebond Original

Wood Shims - Just some little wedges of scrap wood, about 1/16 inches thick or less.

Hammer/mallet - pretty self explanatory. A wooden or rubber mallet would be better for not dinging up the wood.

Saw - You can use a handsaw (panel saw) like the one in the video, or a circular saw which would go much faster

Chisel - A good, sharp chisel, sized about an inch

Square - A speed square (you can find a cheap one anywhere) is good or you can use a carpenter's or framing square if you want to or know what those are.

Measuring device - measuring tape, a yardstick, or anything that can measure up to 18 inches

Marking Device - A pencil or a marking knife works best

Finish - finishing product of your choice. Polyurethane, urethane, lacquer, paint, or wax all work perfectly fine

Step 1: Measure and Cut the Legs

-Make sure the ends of your stock are square (perfectly perpendicular to the long edge of the beam)

-If they are not, use the square and mark a perpendicular line as close to the edge as you can, then use your saw to cut that edge straight down through the line

- Measure 16 1/2 inches in from the edge and use your square to draw a line perpendicular to the long edge of the beam

- Use your saw to cut at the line all the way, straight down, through the beam

- repeat this step measuring in, marking, and then cutting from the other end of the beam

Step 2: Marking the Slots for the Legs

-Pick which side you want to be the top of your bench

-Turn the beam over so the top side faces down, as you are now working on the underside of the bench

-Using the square, mark a line a few inches in from the edge of the beam. The distance will be relative to the overall length of your bench, but about 15% of the way in from the edge works well.

- Place one of your legs on the line, toward the inside of the bench, and make sure it's lined up perfectly, as pictured

-Mark a second line on the opposite side of the leg, on the face of the bench, to mark the width of the leg slot

-Remove the leg and continue these lines down 1.5 inches on the edges of the beam to mark the slot depth using your square

-Use your square to connect the bottoms of the 1.5 inch lines on the edges to show where the bottom of the leg slot will be

-Reproduce these marks on the opposite end of the beam

Step 3: Cut Kerfs Between Your Lines

-Starting JUST INSIDE of your outermost mark on the beam face, saw straight down to your depth line you marked in the last step (the mark should be touching your cut, but still be visible when you're done, this ensures a tight fit later)

-Repeat this step incrementally (at least every 1/4 inch) until you reach the VERY INSIDE EDGE of the next mark. It should look like the picture when you are done.

-Reproduce these steps on the opposite end of the beam

Step 4: Chisel Out the Waste

-Stand the beam on end, and place your chisel on the depth mark, with the flat side facing the mark as pictured

-Use your mallet to gently tap downward on the chisel and remove the waste material from the slot.

-After you have the bulk of the waste removed, use the chisel to flatten the bottom of the slot. It's very important that you get it as evenly flat as possible, so that your time here

-Reproduce these steps on the opposite side of the beam

Step 5: Check, Glue, and Fit the Legs

Here's the exciting part, where your bench really takes shape

-Dry fit the legs into the slots. If the slots are a little too wide, the next step will take care of that. If they are too tight, you can widen them in small increments with your saw, checking with the legs again each pass.

-The legs should fit very snugly into the slots, but not to much that they need to be forced in with great strength. If you have to do anything more than smack it down with your open palm, then it's too tight.

-Coat the inside edges of the slot with glue. Don't use a ton of glue, but make sure that you get an ample amount on every surface as pictured

- Insert the legs into the slot, being certain to line up the front and back edges of the joint flush with each other.

Step 6: Adding Some Shims

If your legs don't fit snugly enough into the slots, and there is any space or wobble side to side:

-Place glue on the flat sides of your shim and push, then gently hammer it into the slot on the inside edge of the leg

-Use your chisel and mallet to chop the protruding part of the wedge away, making it flush with the face of the beam

-Make sure the legs are perpendicular to the beam using your square. If they are not, use the wedges to adjust them until they are.

-Clean up any glue squeeze out around the leg joints with a damp rag or shop towel.

Step 7: Finishing

My bench stock had already accumulated enough oils and whatnot over the years to where i did not need to finish it. If you need to finish yours:

-A Spray lacquer is quick and easy, just do it in a well ventilated area and follow the directions on the can

-Polyurethane is also a great option. Again, follow the directions on the can.

-If you want this bench to reside outdoors, consider using cedar or white oak as your material, or finishing it with urethane, paint, or an outdoor stain.

-In fact, just follow the instruction on whatever you choose to use

-Give the top surface a few more coats of finish than the rest, so people's butts don't rub it all off.

-Your bench is done! Once everything is dry, have a seat and give yourself a nice pat on the back!