Woven Seat Shaker Bench

DIMENSIONS: 42½" W × 17¾" D × 41" H

Approximate materials cost: $350 including webbing for seat and back

Turn some spindles, weave some webbing.

Simple Shaker-inspired style gives this bench a timeless look. Basic spindle turnings form the frame, and you can easily weave the comfortable seat yourself.

To turn the back legs (A), your lathe must accommodate a workpiece about 42" long. Many midi lathes with a bed extension fill the bill. Otherwise, round the legs with a round-over bit and table-mounted router, then add separately turned finials. Or, make the legs (and long spindles) from ready-made dowel rods.

Click here to learn how to make dowels, or visit woodmagazine.com/makedowels.

1 BACK LEG (Left rear leg shown, right leg is a mirror image)
2 FRONT LEG (Left front leg shown, right leg is a mirror image)

Note: Hole depths shown on Drawings 1 and 2 are after turning; drill about 3/16" deeper into the blanks.


Begin With the Legs

1 Cut 1½"-square stock for the back and front legs (A, B), allowing an inch or so extra length at the top end [Materials List, Exploded View]. Measuring from the bottom, drill holes in adjacent faces to make mirror-image legs [Drawings 1, 2].

Use a roughing gouge to quickly round the square. Support the workpiece from behind with your hand to prevent flexing.
Draw guidelines for the finial features, measuring from the bottom of the leg. Verify that the overall length between the top mark and the bottom is 41".
Establish the diameter at the middle of the cove using a parting tool or a skew (shown). Center the cut on the guideline.
Run the lathe at about 1,500 rpm to round down square stock for the spindles. Then, speed up to about 2,000—3,000 rpm for finish-turning.

Note: Install a ⅝"-diameter drive center on your lathe for turning the legs. This allows you to turn the foot to ¾" diameter without needing a wasteblock.

2 Mount a back leg (A) between centers with the bottom of the leg at the drive end, and round it down to 1¼" diameter [Photo A], working about 8" at a time.

3 Lay out guidelines for the finial and the foot [Drawings 1a, 1b, Photo B]. Cut in to set the minor diameter of the finial cove [Photo C] and define the leg top [Photo D].

Cut in with a parting tool at the top of the finial. Leave about a ¼" tenon connecting the top of the turning to the waste.
Form the finial top with a spindle gouge. Move the gouge toward the top of the leg, and maintain the ¼" connection to the waste.
Work down to the minor diameter from the top and bottom of the cove. Check your work with a paper template to keep both finials the same.
Form a straight taper for the foot. Establish the foot’s bottom diameter with a parting cut, then work down from the guideline with the roughing gouge.
Sand with cloth-backed abrasive in progressively finer grits from 80 to 220. Run the lathe at a slower speed (750 rpm or so) with coarse abrasive.
Brush up on using a spindle gouge. woodmagazine.com/spindlegouge

4 Cut out a copy of the finial pattern [Drawing 1a] for a template. Shape the finial [Photos E, F]. Taper the foot with the roughing gouge or a skew [Drawing 1b, Photo G].

5 Finish-sand the leg [Photo H]. Remove the turning from the lathe and cut off the waste with a fine-toothed handsaw. File and sand the finial tips to shape.

6 Turn the other back leg (A) and both front legs (B) following the same procedure. Cut a template of Drawing 2a for the top of the front leg.

Tip! Form the tenons on top of the front legs with a parting tool to create sharp shoulders.

Turn the arm cap to final diameter and round over the edge. Finish-sand the cap, remove it from the screw center, and drill the center hole to ⅜" deep.
Hold the side assembly together with a band clamp to measure the arm attachment distance. Alter the arm pattern if the distance needs to be adjusted.
Shape the arm tenon with a ¼" round-over bit. Set the bit slightly low in the table to leave a flat surface for the bearing to ride on. Sand the tenon to shape.

Turn the Spindles, Add Arms

1 Cut stock for the stretchers and spindles (C–H), adding a couple of inches extra to provide wasteblocks at both ends. Drill holes in the back stretcher (E) blanks [Exploded View].

2 Turn and finish-sand the stretchers and spindles, and form tenons on the ends [Exploded View].

3 Cut 2½"-square blanks for the arm caps (I) and scribe a 2⅛" circle on each blank.Drill a ½" hole ⅛" deep and a centered pilot hole for a screw center in each blank.

4 Bandsaw each blank just outside the line. Attach the screw center and grip it in your lathe chuck. Turn the cap to shape [Photo I].

5 Dry-assemble a bench side (A–D) and measure the distance from the tenon center on the front leg (B) to the face of the back leg (A) to determine arm (J) attachment distance [Photo J, Drawing 3].

6 Cut blanks for the arms (J). Adhere enlarged copies of the arm pattern [Drawing 3] to the blanks.

7 Bandsaw the arms to shape, drill the holes, and round over the edges. Rout the tenons [Photo K], and finish-sand.

Assemble the Frame

1 Glue and assemble the two sides (A–D), making sure the holes in the legs (A, B) face each other [Exploded View].

2 Dry-assemble (do not glue) the back stretchers (E) and vertical stretchers (F).

3 Glue the back (E/F), stretchers (G,) and spindles (H) into the holes in the sides (A–D) [Exploded View]. Install the arms (J) and arm caps (I). Make sure the frame sits solidly on all four feet.

4 Touch up sanding as needed, and apply a clear finish. We applied water-based satin-finish polyurethane.

5 Weave the seat and back as shown on the next page.

See how to enlarge gridded patterns. woodmagazine.com/enlargeplans

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WOOD Magazine - December/January 2019-20


December/January 2019-20