Building things: Dining table bench

I like to build things in my spare time. I saw a simple schematic for a bench I wanted to try out, but wanted to add something special to it. The original was done with two-by-fours, but I’ve been fascinated with plywood for a while for some reason. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s light, strong and keeps is shape in diverse humidity conditions (no warping!), and it’s readily available.

I wanted to build a simple, but strong bench that will last. I chose the Metsä Wood Kerto T-Stud as it’s basically a plank made out of plywood. It’s a bit rough on the surface since it’s mostly meant for inner wall structures where finish isn’t important, but it wasn’t anything that a decent sanding and finishing wouldn’t fix. Also it was very cheap, with a single 255cm beam costing 5,45€. I needed about thirteen of them, and a bottle of glue so this was a nice budget build.

I started by carefully measuring and cutting the pieces using a miter saw and building the ends of the bench. I didn’t take any pictures at this point because the thought of posting about it didn’t cross my mind, but you can see the end nicely in this picture:

Bench ends being glued

The ends are glued as a stack, with shorter pieces sawn to be exactly the width of a beam shorter. This way the interlocking beams sit flush. I drilled holes for mortise-and-tenon joints for added strength, but there’s ample surface area for the glue to grip. The other beam was put in place to level the whole thing, but glued last.

Gluing bench beams

I glued the first long beam, then sawed some cross supports that I glued and drilled in place using 75mm screws. The screws stay hidden, but tie the bench beams nicely together. This bring amazing structural strength to the beams that might otherwise wobble a bit, even though the Kerto wood is seriously rigid stuff.

mortise-and-tenon joints, beam supports on bench

After the whole thing was glued together and held in place with cargo straps and clamps, it was time to let the glue dry and enjoy the weather for a while.

When the glue dried, it was time to crack out the power sander and give it a nice go around with some 80 grit paper. I hand-sanded some trickier places, giving it a nice, slightly rounded appearance and finalised with 120 grit. It would have been good to use a finer grade to finish, but that’s all I had available at that time. I really like the way the ends look like a huge stack of plywood just cut across, the beams blend nicely together:

Because the beams are meant to be hidden behind drywall, there are some marks on them. I decided to try some wood filler to fix the worst ones:

It was time to run an assisted structural integrity test to see if the bench can hold people:

Turns out it’s just as sturdy as it seems. I decided to finish it with some OsmoColor Oil Wax since I had half a can Laying around, it has a white tint to it I thought would give it a nice colour:

In hindsight, I should have just left the little holes and branch marks there as the wood filler discoloured the wood a bit and if you know it’s there you can tell where the splotches are. Maybe some more sanding would have helped, but I noticed them only after the finishing was done, so there wasn’t much to be done about it.

Next time I’ll probably use a lighter oil, slapping that stiffer stuff on was a huge pain in the ass as it has a very waxy consistency so it’s hard to apply evenly on large surfaces. After a couple of hours of brushing this stuff on I was pleased enough with the result to let it dry overnight.

The bench received spousal approval and moved into place. I’m pretty happy with the end result, after spending maybe six to eight hours and well under 100€ on the materials.

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