A Bluestone + Cedar Bench:
Sometime in this line of work we find ourselves with excess or salvaged material. When this occurs it can be a creative and interesting challenge to create something a bit outside of our usual line of work. So, after salvaging several bluestone treads from a home in Boxborough, MA, I decided to use them to make an outdoor bench.
The idea was to use the bluestone tread as the bench top, and cedar wood as the base. Cedar is a naturally rot resistant wood so is ideal for outdoor furniture among other exposed wood applications (siding, fences, etc.). Using cedar from the local lumber yard (pre-milled, standard sizes), I design the bench to have clean lines, and large sturdy legs beneath the stone.
4″ x 4″ posts being one of the cedar products available, I design the bench to make use of the hefty posts by notching a place for the stone to rest. In this way the stone fits snugly but is secured only by gravity, much like dry-laid stone walls and patios.
Building the Bench:
After some careful planning I mill the wood and create a series of simple lap joints. Lap joints are easy and effective, but, will require screws as opposed to some finery types of joinery that do not.
While making legs I decide to deviate from the plan a bit so the the bench has a wider and more stable base. I also redesign it to have slight reveals rather than having the stone and wood always lining up flush.
Next I dry fit the pieces to make sure everything fits as it should:
Next I sand the pieces, and the bench gets glued and screwed. I fill the screw holes with wooden dowels and sand them flat so that the screws aren’t apparent.
After the glue dries we sand again and see how the stone fits. A bit more chiseling is necessary and the stone goes in and is looking good:
Since cedar is naturally rot resistant it can be left untreated and will turn gray over time. However, I decide to treat it with teak oil to give it a little extra resistance, and bring out some richness in the wood:
The bench is complete and here she is at her new home.