Here is a rather unique bench. It's made from White Cedar beams. The legs are joined to the top with massive, hand cut dovetails. It is 46" long x 11" deep x 17" high, so it's the perfect height to pull up to your favorite dining or kitchen table. It would also serve well as a foyer bench. It might even receive a blessing and be put into service as an alter in a special place.
I'm delighted with how this bench turned out. The long radial cracks are infilled with resin blackened with ground charcoal from the wood stove in my shop. These deep, black fissures both contrast and highlight the beautiful grain of the cedar and the precise dovetail joinery. There is an inlay of cedar running around one of the legs. The feet are padded with cork to protect the floor. It has a waterborne finish with a hand polished low satin sheen.
This bench is available for purchase. The introductory price is $2500. Delivery within 75 miles of Asbury Park, NJ is included. If you are interested in this piece or have any questions, please drop me a line or call me at 732-996-9740.
So that's the basics. If you have a moment, allow me to tell you the story of this bench...
Like most woodworkers, I've always got at least a small collection of interesting pieces of wood waiting for the right idea to come along. In the late 90's, a cabinetmaker that I'm friends with built a pergola from beautiful white cedar 6x6 beams. He gave me a few 4' long offcuts with the caveat that I make something cool with them. They were milled as structural posts, so they have boxed hearts, meaning they are cut from the very center of the tree. You see full, concentric circles, not just arcs when looking at the end grain. Also, beams cut this way tend to develop pretty amazing cracks that radiate from the center of the tree and run along the grain as the wood dries out. I promised to make something good and tucked them into my stash.
Several times I thought of using them for bedposts or table legs. But the ideas were never quite right, and remained in my sketchbook. However, the other day I was looking through my lumber stash for ideas, and I started thinking about cutting some giant dovetails on those big cedar timbers. The idea of a bench quickly followed, and I decided that it was finally time to make something with these old beams.
Dovetails are a pinnacle of craftsmanship in woodworking, and as such I believe they should represent one's finest effort. When I was teaching myself to make them I decided that I would only cut them by hand. Practically speaking, this means that rather than setting up a jig and router or a dedicated dovetailing machine, I lay out my dovetail joinery with a very sharp pencil and marking knife and then cut and chop the shape of each joint with handsaws and chisels. Each cut must be made exactly right, and the surfaces of each pin and tail must then be fitted with the precision of a machinist. When things go well, you work in a zen-like state of focus; when things go poorly it's like making the most frustrating, costly firewood in the world. It's a stressful, tedious and painstaking process, but one of the most rewarding jobs a woodworker can do.
Usually, dovetails are used to join drawers and boxes, so they tend to be small. About the size of your little finger, sometimes even smaller if something is to be finely detailed. But the joint can be scaled up to be used on large timbers as well.
These are the largest dovetails I have ever attempted. Making dovetails of any size is rewarding, and I'm pleased to say that dovetails that are almost 6" long are pretty amazing!