Editors note: This project was completed at CJ’s home workshop. Pressure treated wood is not allowed on Nova Labs equipment.
“Honey, I would love a glider bench for the deck for my birthday!”
“Sure, no problem!” as I thought to myself, “what’s a glider bench?”
After learning what a glider bench was, I had a brief concern whether glider brackets (four metal brackets that make the bench rock or glide) could be easily acquired, but they absolutely are (e.g., Rockler). And it turns out that a glider bench is exactly the kind of project I love—lots of designs available and lots of opportunities to adapt exactly the design I want. I knew that I (and my wife) did not want a blocky design. I wanted the seat and back to be contoured, so I spent some time finding contoured designs and sketching out what I wanted.
After sourcing the glider brackets, I needed to pick and source the wood. Given the outdoor location, teak or cedar would be a good wood option, but I really wanted low-maintenance so I chose pressure-treated. I was also curious if I could make something beautiful using deck lumber.
Using pressure-treated wood comes with a couple major drawbacks, however: fumes and warping. I wanted to do the work inside and you need to be careful with the dust and fumes from pressure-treated wood. I used a heavy-grade respirator during the whole process. Also, the 1x6s I used warped badly. I overcame the warping by attaching the slats on one end first and using spacers and a bit of leverage to bend the slats into shape as I secured them. The other significant challenge (and source of anxiety for me because it was a stretch skill) was achieving the curved elements of the bench.
This required creating and using large templates for the bench seat and bench back pieces. There are many ways to approach this, but I created mine in Visio, printed them across multiple pages, and cut, taped, and assembled them. I then used a combination of the jigsaw (ok) and bandsaw (better) to cut them out. My first pieces were messy with beveled cuts that required a lot of oscillating sander work to improve. I also reminded myself these pieces were going to be hidden by the seat slats, so I did not try to perfect them.
Overall, I like the result. Surprisingly, well-sanded pressure-treated wood is quite pretty. But there are a couple of things I would do differently next time. I would have practiced my approach to cutting the curved pieces on some scrap first. As a maker, this is something I have to constantly remind myself, that perfect on the first try is not realistic and mistakes are actually valuable experience and knowledge. I think I would also have been pickier with the pressure-treated wood pieces I chose or maybe used different wood.
At the time, COVID disruptions made my wood choices very limited but working with warped wood is frustrating and requires diligent care on a table saw. This was very much an enjoyable project. I learned quite a bit about making dados with a router, I am more comfortable making contoured pieces, and my wife is happy!
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