Contemporary Curved Bench
An easy-to-construct, custom curved bench adds style to a mid-century modern family room.
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Tools and Materials:
three sheets of 3/4" mahogany plywood
one sheet of 3/4” lesser-grade plywood
60 feet of 3/4” x 3" pine, cut into pieces 18" long strips
cardboard for symmetrical cut out stencil
cordless drill and 1-1/4" screws
finish nail gun and 1” finish nails
one quart clear polyurethane and a natural bristle brush for application
metal bench legs with screw-in base plates
router with 3/4” round-over bit
1. Make a stencil for the shape of the bench, draw out half of your finished shape on cardboard (we have a 3' x 6" high curve).
2. Cut out the shape and trace it onto a larger piece of cardboard. Fold over the 3-foot stencil and trace for the other side, giving you a symmetrical 6-foot long curved stencil.
3. Cut out the full 6-foot long stencil and lay it over a sheet mahogany plywood. Tape the stencil to the plywood and trace the curve onto the plywood. Remove the stencil and repeat on another piece of mahogany plywood for the second side of the bench.
4. Use a jig saw to cut out both pieces of the mahogany plywood. The overall dimension of each facing piece should be 72" x 6".
5. Use a router with 3/4" round-over bit to round out the edges of mahogany. Use sandpaper to smooth all edges.
6. For the inside ledger of the bench, make two similar, but 3/4” smaller curved pieces with the lesser-grade plywood. Trace the curve onto the plywood and use a jig saw to cut out the pieces. The overall dimension of each ledger piece should be 70-1/2" x 4-1/2".
7. Use wood glue and 1-1/4" screws to fasten the plywood ledger to the mahogany facings, leaving a 3/4" recess around the interior perimeter of the facings. This allows room for the side pieces and top strips to rest on the ledger and sit flush with facings.
8. To make the bench sides, use a table saw and miter saw to cut the mahogany plywood to the length you'd like the depth of the bench to be. For our bench, we used 18" sides to connect the 3/4" facings, thus giving us an overall bench depth of 19-1/2". Use a router and 3/4” round-over bit round out the edges of sides (same way you did the facings). Sand all cut edges.
9. To assemble the four sides of the bench top, run beads of wood glue along the ends of the facing ledgers. Then fit the 18” mahogany sides against the ledgers on the facings, use 1” finish nails to attach.
10. Use a miter saw to cut 3/4” x 3" strips of pine to the same length as the sides (ours are 18”). Run a bead of wood glue along the upper plywood ledgers. Lay the pine strips on both ledgers, connecting the two facings. The pine strips should lie side by side creating the undulating curve of the bench top. Use 1” finish nails to secure the strips into the plywood ledgers.
10. Finish the wood with brushed-on clear polyurethane finish. Let dry completely.
See how the Rip & Renew crew builds a combination toy box and bench seat into an used niche.