Building an entryway bench

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  • #135507
    westadd
    Participant

    My wife asked me to build an entryway bench, and I’ll attach a picture similar to what I’ll build. My question is, since I use hand tools only, what joinery methods would you use for the back of the bench. The dividers and sides will be dado’s, and I plan on using a mortise and tenon on the rail beneath the seat, just like the one in Paul’s 4 unit wall shelf. Im a little stuck on the back, maybe a rabbet? What would you use?

    Attachments:
    #135509
    Joe Kaiser
    Participant

    My first thought was to attach it like the back of any cabinet. Just tack it on with some screws.

    Anyone else have a better way?

    Seattle, WA

    #135510
    westadd
    Participant

    Joe, I’ve thought about using wooden dowels instead of screws. I want to try and use as few screws and metal as possible.

    #135517
    Matt McGrane
    Participant

    I would set the back in a rabbet that was cut into the sides and bottom. But I still might be tempted to add some screws to fortify it. Just glue in a rabbet joint is not so strong.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    #135520
    JONATHAN WARREN
    Participant

    depending on the thickness of the back and the material it’s made of, I’ve put a rebate and used panel pins to fasten the back before.

    From Warrington, UK. Making stuff in my front room.

    #135522
    westadd
    Participant

    That is my thought also. The back will probably be 3/4″ inch thick, so I should have enough meat to put some dowels through with glue.

    #135572
    BrianJ
    Participant

    What is the funtion of the back? I mean is there any other support members along the back edge since the it is a seat? Or is the back also going to function as support of the rear of the seat?
    just thoughts to consider for strength.
    BrianJ

    Ontario, Canada

    #135585
    Ed
    Participant

    That is my thought also. The back will probably be 3/4″ inch thick, so I should have enough meat to put some dowels through with glue.

    The back might be lighter and stronger if made only 1/4″ or 3/8″ thick and housed in a groove plowed into the sides. I’m picturing grooves going up the sides, but stopping at the bench. A separate, full-thickness member goes across the back, behind the cushion. A panel slides into the grooves from the bottom of the bench. Pick a couple places to tack the panel to reduce rattling. You might even be able to use the groves to house the joinery for the piece behind the cushion.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 8 months ago by Ed.
    #135596
    westadd
    Participant

    The back is just for looks, because I’m putting in 3 dividers to make 4 cubby holes, so no real support needed. I might be able to borrow a band saw to resaw my rough cut walnut into 1/2 inch boards to join to make the back. 1/2 inch would sure make it lighter. I’m hand tool only so I’ve got lots of planing to do.

    #135608
    Ed
    Participant

    The “stronger” I had in mind with regard to the back was to make sure that the back is not pushed off the case when someone shoves something into a cubby hole. This happens on cheap bookcases. You push in books, and the back pushes off. If the back is set in grooves, this won’t happen. If you have 3/4″ material for the back, you could put rabbets in the back to form a tongue which then goes into the grooves in the sides. You’ll need to think about how things move depending upon the orientation of the grain in the back and the sides.

    #135622
    westadd
    Participant

    I think I understand. I may not have a way to make a tongue and groove. I only have a plow plane and a router plane.

    #135631
    Sven-Olof Jansson
    Participant

    Isn’t there a proverb along the lines of “When one’s only tool is a hammer, then all problems will have to take the shape of a nail”?

    The plough plane can be used for creating ‘housing-dados’ in both the back and the carcass. Loose splines can serve as tongues. 1/4″ is common for plough plane blades, as well as for plywood.

    After having consulted Bill Hylton’s book Illustrated Cabinet Making, I would probably go for the following: A piece behind the seat, with its ends dovetailed into the sides, and with a housing-dado in the bottom edge. The housing-dado would then continue along the whole rear of the carcass.
    Then I would create rebates-rabbets at the short edges of the boards of the back, butt joint the boards, and use the plough plane supported by a scrap piece (believe Mr. Sellers shows this technique in part 3 or 4 of making cabinet doors) to create rebates-rabbets along the long edges of the back. The back would now fit into the housing-dados of the frame. Sort of a frame-and-panel door, I suppose.

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

    #135647
    westadd
    Participant

    I like that very much. However, on the sides the end grain will be at the top and bottom, not side to side. Can I still dovetail in that manner?

    #135825
    Je Lee
    Participant

    Maybe I did not get the full concept of the design. But I would be a bit concerned about the sideways stability since the quite small mortise and tenon joints of the rail beneath the seat would be the only joinery with gluing faces in grain direction and the seat and the lower board inserted in dadoes would not contribute very much to lateral strength. I would be afraid that the bench would collapse to one side.

    So I think the back should be firmly joined to the 4 boards of the front carcase. Maybe dovetails to the sides? Gluing plus wooden dowels / screws to all 4 boards the back board sitting behind all 4 boards of the carcase.

    The back board could be also glued between the sides but the dowels / screws would show on the sides. So preferabally dowels.

    You could also use three to four through mortise tenon joints with wedges. This version I would prefer most.

    Je
    Frankfurt, Germany

    #135830
    Ed
    Participant

    I have the same worry. The housing joints won’t give racking strength. Three options come to mind. Build the back as a frame and panel(s) and attach that frame like Paul did in the bookshelf video. Now the full-sized mortises in the frame strengthen everything. The second option is to have all the grain horizontal on the sides and back, dovetail them together to make a 3-sided box. Dovetail the stretcher on the front under the bottom of the cubby to keep the sides from flapping. The third idea is to make the grain on the sides be horizontal and dovetail just the seat-back into the two sides. This is the piece above the cushions. You can make this wide enough to give some rigidity. Put a groove in the bottom of it and grooves in the sides. Put another piece near the bottom of the back, again dovetailed and with a grove on its top. The groves capture a floating black panel(s). Do the stretcher thing in front, as in the 2nd idea. This last idea is a lot like making a chair. The second is like making a big toolbox that you sit on. The first is like making a bookshelf. I think all would work. One of them requires a billion dovetails, though. I’m not sure the final idea works unless you think very carefully about how it goes together. I’m afraid that the dovetails assemble in the wrong direction to slide the panel in. I guess that part could have a rabbet instead of a groove to make it go together.

    Hmm. Maybe the stretcher in front is mortised, not dovetailed. Wouldn’t look good. But the grains are crossed, so think carefully.

    Anyway, I think you are 100% right.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 8 months ago by Ed.
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