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A beautiful place to rest on your deck or patio is the reward for building this elegant cedar bench.
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From a 2 x 6 board, cut the front legs (A) to size using a table saw. For the back legs (B), cut a pair of 2 x 6 blanks 37-1/2 inches long (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram).
Draw the shape of the back legs on the blank (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). At the top of the leg, use a compass to draw the curved top.
Use a jigsaw or band saw to cut the back legs to shape. If using a jigsaw, clamp the leg to a work surface for stability.
Sand the cut edges beginning with 100-grit sandpaper. Once you’re satisfied with the shape of the parts, switch to 150-grit sandpaper. When shaping the parts with the sander, keep the machine moving to avoid uneven contours.
Lock a 1/8-inch round-over bit in a handheld router and ease all of the edges of the legs. The router will give a more consistent edge profile on the parts than sanding.
Enlarge the patterns (Project Diagram, Drawing 2) 400 percent for the side rails (C), end seat braces (E), and seat braces (K) (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram).
Cut boards to length for the side rails (C), lower side rails (D), end seat braces (E), and seat braces (K). Attach patterns to the blanks using spray adhesive.
Make the contoured cuts using a jigsaw and then smooth the edges using a sander. Cut the parts to final length, and round the edges of the side rails (C) and lower side rails (D) using a router.
Using a pocket-hole jig, drill two holes at both ends of the rails to secure them to the front legs (A) and the back legs (B) (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). (The connections will be reinforced later with larger fasteners.)
For all of the pocket holes, we set the pocket-hole jig for 3/4-inch-thick material and used screws of different lengths shown in the project diagrams.
The rails are thinner than the legs; use 1/4-inch-thick spacers to center the rails on the width of the legs. Glue and pocket-screw the rails (C, D) between the legs (A, B) (Project Diagram, Drawing 3) on a flat work surface.
If the bench will be used under a porch or in a three-season room, standard pocket-hole screws are acceptable. For a bench exposed to the elements, you will need stainless-steel pocket-hole screws that can be special ordered. As an substitute, use #8 stainless-steel washers and #8 stainless-steel sheet-metal screws.
Apply glue to the inside face of the side rails (C) and position the end seat braces (E) on the sides (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). Drive screws through the end seat braces into the side rails.
Cut the stretcher (F), front rail (G), back rail (H), and crest rail (I) to width and length (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram).
Using the router, round the long edges of the parts and sand with 150-grit sandpaper. Drill pocket-holes at each end of these four long rails (Project Diagram, Drawing 4 and Drawing 5). We drilled the pocket holes 1 inch away from the edges of the boards.
Clamp one of the bench end assemblies to a flat work surface with the front leg down. Lay 1/4-inch-thick spacers on the work surface where you’ll rest the front rail (G). Glue and screw the front rail to the end assembly where shown (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). Repeat to attach the opposite end assembly to the front rail.
Cut a 6-1/4-inch-long scrap as a spacer for the stretcher. Flip the bench onto its back legs and clamp the spacers against he lower side rails so they are resting on top of the back legs. Position the stretcher (F) between the ends — centered on the width of the lower side rails (D) — and secure with glue and pocket-hole screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 4).
Cut 3/4-inch-thick boards to size using a table saw and a miter saw for the back slats (J) (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram). Drill a pair of pocket holes on the rough face of the material — the back face of the slats — then round over the edges with a router and sand with 150-grit sandpaper.
On your work surface, mark the location of the slats on the back rail (H) and the crest rail (I). The slats are 2-5/8 inches wide and there is a 2-3/4 inch space between them (Project Diagram, Drawing 5).
Place the slats in position and raised off the work surface by 1/8-inch-diameter dowels. Fasten slats to the back rail and crest rail with glue and pocket-hole screws.
Position the back assembly between the sides with the back rail 12-3/4-inch above the work surface (Project Diagram, Drawing 6) — two spacers and a few clamps aid in positioning the back assembly. Secure with pocket-hole screws.
Mark the seat brace (K) locations along the inside faces of the back rail (H) and front rail (G) (Project Diagram, Drawing 6). Glue and screw the seat braces to the front rail. For the back ends of the parts, drive screws through the back rails into the braces so that the bottom edge of the seat brace is even with the bottom edge of both the front and back rails.
To reinforce each rail-to-leg connection, drill 1/8-inch pilot holes and drive screws through the legs into the connected rails. Offset the screws so they bypass each other.
From 3/4-inch boards, cut the seat slats (L) (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram) to length and width using a table saw. Round all of the slat edges with a router and sand with 150-grit sandpaper (Project Diagram, Drawing 6).
Position the slats on the end seat braces (E) and seat braces (K). The slats will be evenly spaced between the side rails (C) with roughly 3/8-inch gaps.
Secure the slats by drilling pilot holes and driving trim-head stainless-steel screws through the slats into the braces (Project Diagram, Drawing 7). To keep the screws aligned for the best appearance, bend a 1/8-inch dowel along the contoured surface to draw a straight line and mark the pilot hole locations.
Remove the seat slats and lightly sand the entire bench to remove any marks or sharp edges. Apply an exterior stain of your choice to all the surfaces of the bench.
Reinstall the slats using the stainless-steel trim screws and position the bench on a porch or in your yard to enjoy the view.