This is a commemorative bench I built for a local elementary school’s garden.  It’s made completely from cedar wood, and is mostly traditional mortise and tenon joinery.  The clients wanted something unique that incorporated the school’s mascot, the gecko.  This is the design I came up with and we decided inlaid geckos that looked like they were crawling on the bench would be really cool.  The only metal fasteners are the lag bolts holding the arm rests to the front legs and the screws holding the seat board to the bench.  The lag bolts in the arm rests are hidden under the gecko inlays.

The build story:

This project started off with shaping the legs and cutting the 12 mortises needed for the seat rails and the back rails.  The front legs are curved from top to bottom and the rear legs start curving back about halfway up the leg.  So laying out the mortises and keeping things inline was a little tricky.  Just took some foresight, planning, and a template to make sure all the layout lines were where they needed to be.  After all the mortises in the legs were cut I started on the tenons for the long rails, trimming each one to fit by hand after being rough cut to size.

Bench_001Bench_003  Bench_002




Once all the rails were fitting into the legs properly, I moved on to cutting the mortises for 21 seat back slats, 21 slats equals 42 mortises.  That puts me up to 54 mortises so far.






54 mortises in, can’t stop now.  Time to mill, cut, trim, and fit all 21 seat slats.  Then cut 8 more mortises for the short seat rails, trim and fit those.  Now it’s starting to look like a bench.






Time to start working on the arm rests.  Requires 2 last mortises in the rear legs.   This makes for a total of 64 mortise and tenon joints.  Once the arm rests were built and ready, I milled up the seat boards.






Now it’s ready for final assembly.  Then I started in making the geckos and getting them inlaid into the arm rests and seat back.






Then 3 coats of finish and the commemorative plaque install, and it’s all done and ready for delivery to it’s new home.  It spent it’s first day at the front door of the school.  Then next day I went back to install it in the garden where it will live a long happy life.