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This is a live edge sitka spruce slab bench that we used in lieu of a guestbook at our wedding. Construction details and more pics after the jump.
The concept was simple: Instead of a guest book, we have a bench for people to sign. That way it's much more likely to be a visible part of our lives rather than put on a shelf and forgotten. The question then became, what design of bench works best?
We toyed with a couple different things, but settled on a simple design that relies on the slab top. That would allow the writing to be the star of the show.
We found a sitka spruce slab that fit the bill. It was roughly bench sized, i.e. wide enough to make a good sized seat, with a roughly uniform width along the length of the slab. Obviously, it's not going to be perfectly uniform; that's not the point of the live edge. It was also long enough from end
The non-live-edge was in alright shape, but wasn't perfect, and we wanted to make sure we had a good straight edge to work off of. Unfortunately, I don't have a straightline saw. Also, it's so big that I knew I'd never be able to use our small jointer to effectively clean up one edge. I tried jury rigging a straight edge/circular saw system, but frankly ended up not feeling comfortable with my set up. So, I ended up paying the (kickass) folks at Kettle Moraine Hardwoods to straightline it for us.
Oh... and... uh... The slab itself is much wider in places than our 13" wide planer, and rather than (at the time) acquire either a much larger planer or a No. 7 or 8 jointer plane and doing by hand, the folks at Kettle Moraine Hardwoods were kind enough to run it through their planer to clean up the faces too. They rock.
Basically, the margin of error on this project was far too high to take risks. I had one slab (which wasn't exactly cheap), and one super hard deadline (wedding day), and I couldn't afford to screw anything up. On this project, the better part of valor was recognizing the limitations of my shop and just asking for help from better-equipped folks.
For the legs, I actually used 2x12 douglas fir from Home Depot. It planes/sands to a similar appearance to spruce, and is readily available. I laid out triangle cut outs to contour "feet" and cut them out on the band saw.
They attach to the table top via mortise and tenon joints. (Router to cut the mortise on the top, tenon cut via table saw, everything cleaned up via chisel). I stabilized the piece with a simple stretcher, also attached via mortise/tenon (these mortises I hogged out most of the waste with a drill press and cleaned up with the chisel).
|Stretcher and top leg mortise/tennon|
|All the parts laid out prior to assembly|
|Table saw jig for cutting tenons|
|Finished assembly 2|
Our guests did the hard work of signing it with fine tipped Sharpies, and it turned out great.
For finish, I opted for General Finishes High Performance Water Based Topcoat. The goal was to avoid having the solvents in the finish bleed out or otherwise damage the signatures, and by going with a water-based finish, there aren't really any solvents besides water at play.