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PROJECTS

Rock-Solid Seat

Natural materials create an inviting place to relax


BY MIKE BERGER

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When pouring the concrete into the form, be careful not to disturb the placement of the foam spacers, the PVC pipe or the suspended rebar.

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To help prevent rot, cover the faces of the piers where the cedar beams will rest with self-adhesive windowsill flashing tape.

2-1/4" OC

1-3/4" OC

Because of its considerable weight, youll want to assemble this wood and concrete bench in its permanent location.

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Build an alignment jig to ensure that all of the holes will be in the proper location.

In todays hectic world,


its nice to have a quiet place to relax, kick back and forget your troubles. This comfortable garden bench, when situated in quiet corner of your garden or yard, can be just the ticket to a calm state of mind. Created with the Zen principles of simplicity, austerity and subtlety in mind, this design combines wood and concrete for a striking look yet boasts a comfortable and calming feel. If youve never thought of incorporating concrete into your outdoor furniture designs, you may be surprised at how easy it is to work with. Each pier for this bench is cast from a simple mold constructed from 3/4-in. melamine. The wood seat is crafted from 4x6 cedar timbers and short lengths of 2x4s. And thanks to basic yet durable assembly techniques, the bench is sure to be an eye-catching addition to your yard or garden for years to come.
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Building the forms


Cut the pier-form parts from 3/4-in.-thick melamine to the sizes shown in the Form Details illustration on p. 64 and assemble them using silicone caulk and 1-1/2-in. drywall screws. Cut the spacers as shown from rigid-foam insulation; then wrap the spacers with clear packing tape. Use silicone caulk to seal all of the seams and to adhere the foam spacers to the inside of the form walls. Cut two 9-in. lengths of 1/2-in.-dia. PVC pipe and position them within the form as shown in Form Details. Bend two 23-in.-long sections of 3/8-in.-dia. rebar into a rough U-shape; then use wire to suspend them within the form.

Casting the piers


Once the silicone caulk has cured, youre ready to mix and pour the concrete. Follow the instructions on the concrete bag I used Quikrete 5000 high-strength

concrete mix to ensure that you use the proper amount of water, and add any color powder that you desire at this time. For our project, I mixed in a wheelbarrow and used Fu Tung Chengs NeoMix Pigment in Olive (see SOURCES ONLINE). Carefully pour the concrete into the mold. Work slowly so that you do not dislodge any of the spacers or the PVC pipe (photo 1, above). As youre pouring, occasionally stop and use a rubber mallet to gently rap on the sides of the forms. This ensures that the concrete settles to the bottom. Once youve filled the form, take a stick and repeatedly poke it into the wet concrete, gently working it from top to bottom to eliminate any

trapped air bubbles. Allow the concrete to cure for a few days before removing the mold. (It takes 28 days for the Quikrete to achieve 5,000 psi.) Then cover the area where the cedar beams will rest with a protective rotresistant film such as self-adhesive windowsill flashing tape (photo 2).

Building the seat


Start making the seat by cutting the 4x6 cedar beams to length. The easiest way is with a sliding compound miter saw, but a decent handsaw will work just as well, provided you take your time with the cut and keep an eye out for blade deflection. To create the seats infield, begin

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To use the drilling jig, simply clamp a slat in place and then use a 1/2-in.-dia. brad-point twist bit to drill the two holes.
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PROJECT DESIGN, PHOTOS AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY MIKE ANDERSON

Slide the slats and washers onto the threaded rods to create the seat infield. Use two washers on each rod to create the proper space.

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Drill five countersunk holes through the aluminum; then use 2-in. stainless steel deck screws to fasten the bracket to the cedar beams.
by cutting 20 9-in. lengths of pressuretreated 2x4s. Build a drilling jig from scraps of 2x4 (photo 3, p. 61) to ensure consistent placement of the holes for the two 34-in.-long x 3/8-in.-dia. threaded rods that will hold the infield slats together. To use the jig, simply clamp a 2x4 infield section into it and drill the two necessary holes (photo 4). Note that you will need to counterbore the outside faces of the slats on each end of the infield to accept the washers and nuts that secure the threaded rod.

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Dab lipstick onto the end of a length of threaded rod (inset); then insert the rod into the hole in the pier and press it firmly against the beam to mark the hole location.

Assemble the infield by first attaching a nut and washer to one end of each of the two threaded rods. Slide one of the counterbored slats onto the threaded rods; then slide four washers (two per rod) down the rods and against the slat. Repeat the process one slat followed by two washers per rod until all 20 of the slats are in place (photo 5, left). Check that the assembly is square, attach a final washer and nut to each of the rods and tighten the entire assembly. Cut two 35-1/4-in. lengths of 3/4-in. aluminum angle iron as shown in the drawing. Mark the center of the cedar beams and of the aluminum angle iron lengths. Drill five countersunk mounting holes through each of the aluminum brackets; then attach the brackets to the beams (photo 6) using 2-in. stainless steel deck screws. To mark the location of the holes for the 15-1/4-in. x 3/8-in.-dia. threaded rods that will attach the cedar beams to the concrete piers, first clamp one of the cedar beams to the piers. Place a dollop of something soft, bright and gooey (such as lipstick just dont let your wife catch you) on the end of a long section of threaded rod; then slide the rod through one of the holes and press it firmly against the cedar beam so that it leaves a mark (photo 7). Repeat the process for the other three holes. Remove the beam from the pier and, using a drill guide, bore the four 1/2-in.-dia. holes at the locations you just marked (photo 8, p. 65). Note that you will need to counterbore the holes on the outer faces of the beams to a diameter of 1 in. and a depth of 2-1/2 in. To mark the hole locations on the second beam, first text continued on p. 65

GARDEN BENCH
G

3/8" dia. x 34" threaded rod No.16 x 3/8" nuts and washers

2" Stainless steel deck screws 3/4 x 3/4" aluminum angle Self-adhesive flashing tape
F

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Use a drill guide to ensure that the holes you drill through the cedar beams are straight. MATERIALS/CUTTING LIST
KEY NO. DESCRIPTION SIZE

9
Clamp both beams in place and repeat the lipstick procedure to mark the hole locations on the second beam.

10
Check that the assembly is square; then loosely bolt the two cedar beams to the concrete piers.

A 2 Form walls B 2 Form walls C 1 Form base D 2 Foam spacers E 1 Foam spacer F 2 Cedar beams G 20 Seat slats H 8 Dowel plugs

3/4 x 18 x 15 in. 3/4 x 18 x 15 in. 3/4 x 20 x 20 in. 3 x 5-3/4 x 6-1/4 in. 4 x 4-1/2 x 12 in.* 4x6 x 62 in. 1-1/2 x 3-1/2 x 9 in. 1 in. dia. x 1 in.

*Top measurement is 12 in., tapering to 10-1/2 in. for bottom length


15"

SHOPPING LIST
4x6 x 8-ft. cedar (2) 2x4 x 8-ft. pine (2) 3/8-in.-dia. x 4-ft. threaded rod (4) 3/4 x 3/4 x 3-ft. aluminum angle iron (2) 2- x 4-ft. 3/4-in.-thick melamine (2) 1/2-in.-dia. x 48-in. PVC pipe (1) 3/8-in. x 8-ft. No. 3 rebar (1) 2-in.-thick polystyrene insulation board (1) 1-in.-thick polystyrene insulation board (1) 3/8-in. No. 16 nuts (12) 3/8-in. No. 16 cut washers (84) 80-pound bags of 5,000-psi concrete mix (4) Cheng Concrete NeoMix Olive Pigment (1) 2-in. stainless steel deck screws 1-1/2-in. drywall screws Clear packing tape Silicone caulk Self-adhesive windowsill flashing tape (1 roll) Oil-base stain and sealer

FORM DETAILS

15"

12" 4"

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Before dropping the infield in place, run a heavy bead of construction adhesive along both aluminum brackets.
position both beams on the piers. Clamp them in place and repeat the process with the lipstick and the threaded rods (photo 9, above); then drill the holes as you did for the first beam. rods until all of the parts are snug. Plug the bolt holes with 1-in.-dia. hardwood dowels that have been stained to match the seat slats and contrast with the cedar beams. Allow the construction adhesive to cure; then apply a final clear protective finish to the wood and a clear sealer to the concrete. Once the finish is dry, your bench is ready to enjoy. u

4-1/2"

E
10-1/2"

3/8" dia. x 23" rebar


B

8-3/16"

1-1/2" 80 3" 9"

3" 6-1/4" 6"

Final assembly
Move the piers, beams and seat assembly to the benchs permanent location. Make sure that the piers are level; then loosely bolt the cedar beams to the piers (photo 10). Run a heavy bead of outdoor-rated construction adhesive along both of the aluminum brackets and then drop the seat assembly in place (photo 11). Tighten the nuts on the assembly

SOURCES ONLINE
For online information, go to www.HandymanClub.com and click on WEB EXTRAS.

1/2" x 9" PVC pipe

3"

To download plans for this project, go to www.HandymanClub.com and click on Web Extras.
Support block

Cheng Concrete Exchange


(510) 849-3272

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