Shaker Bench

Introduction: Shaker Bench

Quick step-by-step on how to make a mortise and tenon bench.

Supplies used:
Circular saw
Drill and drill bit
Jig saw
Router - round-over and straight bit
Tape measure/Square
Sand Paper
Finishing supplies: Brush, Stain, Varnish, etc.
The wood chosen was beautiful spalted Red Oak

Basically can use 20 feet of wood 1" x 6" so the cost is pretty low depending on the wood used.  I got all the wood for under $50. The stain was $15 a quart and the varnish was about $25 a quart.

Not too difficult to build if you've had any woodworking experience. 

These are photos I took while making this bench a few years ago.  Was not planning on making this, but hope it helps a little.  Only requires minimal woodworking tools.  Novice level skills required. 

Overall a fun project that's easy to build.  Please ask any questions about this bench.  

This is the first Instructable I have made, and since it was not my intent to begin with, hopefully this will be moderately useful.  Apologies for the poor quality pictures.

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Step 1: Select Wood and Glue Up

Here are the boards cut to length, being glued up.  The top is 44" long, 12" wide, 1" thick.  The 2 legs are 18" long, 11" wide, 1" thick. A stretcher will be made later, but it's just a 34" long, 6" wide board.

For the glue up you just need two boards edge glued together and clamped up.  This is the same step for the top and the two leg pieces. 

Step 2: Cutting the Pieces

Now after the glue is dried on the top and legs, un-clamp the pieces and cut them to length with the circular saw.  Remember, the top is 12" wide and should be cut at 44" long.  The leg pieces are 11" wide and should be 18" long.

Step 3: Cut Leg Tenons and Feet

Tenons are cut into the top of each leg with the jig saw.  The tenons begin 1.5" from either side of the top, and are 2.5" wide.  This gives you 3" between each tenon.  

To give us feet, make a 3" radius curve on the bottom of the legs.  This removes 6" from the center of the legs, making the feet each 2.5" wide. 

Step 4: Grooves for Legs and Stretcher

Next with a straight bit in the router cut groves into the underside of the top seat.  For this, the groove needs to be 1" wide to accept the legs and bottom stretcher that will go between the legs.  

The grooves on either side should be about 3.5" to 4" from the end of the top board on either side. 

Then cut a 1" groove down the center of the underside of the top board to connect the other grooves that will accept the legs.

Step 5: Cutting the Mortise and Curves in the Top

On the top side of the board lay out mortises for the tenons in the leg.  Again these should be 1" by 2.5" wide and placed about 2" from the edge of the board (since the top is 12" wide and the legs are 11" wide).  

These mortises must meet up with the grooves on the underside of the board.

To clean out the holes, use a drill to drill out the majority of the mortise.

Then use a jig saw to remove the material to the layout lines.

From there a file helps to clean up the mortises to fit the tenons in the leg perfectly.  For hogging out more material I like to use a chisel.

At this time cut a slight curve with the jig saw on either end of the top.
There will be a stretcher added to the underside of the top, to connect the legs.

The stretcher is 6" wide, 34" long, 1" thick.  A slight curve can be added to the bottom side of the stretcher to match the curve cut on either side of the top.  A notched tenon can also be added to either end, on the bottom side (see next step for a view).

Now with a round-over bit in the router all the non-jointed edges of the top, legs, and stretcher can be rounded over.

Step 6: Fitting the Legs and Stretcher

From the photo you can see the underside of bench, on the end.

A mortise for the stretcher tenon was created in the leg on either side.  The mortise is about 4.5" tall at 1" wide.  That means the 6" stretch must have a 1.5" notch that's 1" long removed from the bottom side of the stretcher.  Then the stretcher tenon will fit in the leg's mortise.

Step 7: Dry-fit the Pieces and Glue Together

Here is what the bench looks like dry fitted together. 

After everything fits, just glue all the joints and clamp it up.
Once the glue is dry, simply flush up all the joints with a chisel and sandpaper.  This was sanded to 120 grit. 

Now the bench is ready for finish.

Step 8: Apply Stain

Brush on stain.  This has a Sherwin Williams Warm Chestnut oil-based stain.

Step 9: Apply Varnish

Here 3 coats of Pratt and Lambert's Dull 38 Varnish were brushed on.

Step 10: Finished Bench

Here is the finished Shaker Bench.

This was really not a step-by-step, just a short reference guide.  Was not planning on using this as an Instructable when the pictures were taken (poor quality camera phone for that matter).

Hope at the very least it inspired you to build this.  

Plans for this were based off of ones found in the book: Shop Drawings of Shaker Furniture & Woodenware (Vols, 1, 2 & 3) by Ejner Handberg

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