Hand made, curved oak benches

Using traditional technics, I turned a heap of bone oak (oak that’s died and seasoned on tree) and several green oak butts into a pair of bespoke garden benches to sit around a Kadai fire bowl. The timber, as always, was sourced locally and fashioned by hand with a maul, wedges, a side axe and drawknives.

a pile of bone oak that became a bench

smoothing oak rail using draw knife and inshave

oak butt ready for riving / cleaving / splitting


To create the curve, I steamed the oak rails in a specially constructed steam box made from MBP and bent them around bespoke steel jigs I had made up by davetheblacksmith in Derbyshire.

low tech steaming - using a 10 gallon steel churn and oak fire

steamed oak rail, bent onto steel jig to create curve


Now the 42 pieces of oak were ready to take to my workshop for assembling. The leg frames were relatively straight forward to build, however to connect the leg frames together was a whole other story.

mortice & tenon joint for bench leg frame





For this I had to built a jig that would hold the rails in position to mark where each of the 40 mortices should be, this was a lengthy process aligning each rail to flow into another and create the desired overall shape and character of each bench.


Finally the joints could be doweled and glued (using shipbuilders glue, perfect for outdoor furniture, waterproof and very strong). I was then able to start shaping the 42 seat slats, ready for fitting to both bench frames.

shaping seat slats by hand using an antique draw knife

Once the slats were finished and fixed to the bench frames using oak dowels and glue, they were treated with environmentally friendly water prooving agents and wood oils to maintain the colour and protect against weathering for roughly 3 to 5 years.
The customer was overjoyed at the finished items, here they are in their full glory, with a matching oak table top for the Kadai fire bowl!

Comments are closed.