Introduction: Live Edge Cedar Bench

About: I like to dabble in a bit of everything: woodworking, metalworking, sewing, electronics.

I was given this beautiful cedar slab. I had also been meaning to make some sort of seating for my covered front porch, so I made this live edge bench.

Step 1: Slab Cut to Length

I cut it roughly in half so I could transport it back to my garage. I decided the smoother half would make a more comfortable seat and the half with more curves and a branch would make a more interesting looking back.

Step 2: Cutting the Joining Angle

I measured a comfortable wooden chair, and the back on it was 100° from the seat. I set the blade on my circular saw to 50° and used a piece of steel as a straight edge to cut one long side on both slabs.

Now that I had a straight reference edge, I used a speed square and my circular saw to square up the short ends and cut both halves to their final length.

Step 3: Removing the Bark

Stripping, scraping, and sanding off all of the loose bark ended up being one of the most time-consuming steps.

Step 4: Attaching the Back to the Seat

Since I didn't have anyone helping me at the moment, it was easier to join the two parts with them standing up vertically. I used wood glue and plenty of decking screws to attach the two pieces.

Step 5: Metal Structure

The legs were made out of square tubing. I used a cut-off wheel on an angle grinder to cut all of the pieces. This caused some of the edges to not be perfectly square which meant I had some gaps to deal with while welding.

I also clamped the top horizontal piece and the back piece to the cedar part and tacked them together to make sure I got the angle correct. I only set the wood on fire a little bit.

Step 6: Bending the Arm Rests

The arm rests took a bit of planning. Once I knew where I wanted to make each bend, I used my angle grinder to cut out a V shaped notch. Removing the material on the inside of the bends meant they could be sharp and precise.

Step 7: Attaching the Arm Rests

After making sure all the bends were 90° and the two arm rests mirrored each other, I welded on the inside of the bends where I had removed the material.

I then welded them to the legs. The most important thing was making sure the top was parallel to the ground.

Step 8: Mounting Brackets

At this point, my buddy Eric came over and helped me with the rest of the metal base. We made these brackets out of flat stock. They were welded to the legs, and are how we would screw the base to the wooden seat.

Step 9: Mounting Brackets Continued

We welded three to each leg, two for the seat and one for the back. We ended up having to grind the welds down on top, so the seat would sit nice and flush.

Step 10: Test Fit

We inset the legs an inch, and attached them with just a couple lag screws. This way we could tack the rest of the frame together with everything in place. We even managed to avoid setting the seat on fire this time!

Step 11: Stretchers and Supports

We cut two long lengths of angle iron and tacked them to the legs, one spanning under the seat and one behind the back.

Then we cut two lengths of round stock and tacked them from the bottom of the feet to the middle of the bottom stretcher. These should hopefully help keep the legs from flexing side to side.

Step 12: Arm Rest Flats

We cut two more pieces of flat stock and tacked them to the armrests, making sure they were flat and level. These are how I'll attach the final wooden armrests.

Step 13: Final Welding

We removed the cedar seat, and fully welded all the parts we had just tacked together.

Step 14: Painting

I used a wire brush on my angle grinder to clean up all the welds and splatter spots. I used mineral spirits to remove any oil and grease before painting.

I ended up going through one can of primer and three cans of satin black, making sure to do lots of thin light coats so that there wouldn't be any drip spots.

Step 15: Sealing

I used my random orbit sander to go over the seat with 150 then 220 grit. I left the band saw marks, because I liked the texture and thought it fit with the whole rustic/live-edge aesthetic.

I sealed it with several coats of satin polyurethane, lightly sanding between coats.

Step 16: Final Assembly

Finally, it was time to re-attach the base!

Step 17: Finished!

I added some rubber feet to the bottom to keep the paint from scraping off onto my porch. All in all I'm pleased with how it turned out. The seat is a tad narrow, but this isn't a lounge chair after all. It's a more than capable bench for sitting on my front porch and drinking coffee.

I eventually got some black plastic caps the fill the holes in the ends of the tubing.

View this project on Instagram.

This project was completed September 23, 2018.