Making A Driftwood Bench

by Peter Berrecloth
17th September 2016

The bench idea happened when I found a prime driftwood plank on Shoebury East Beach. We stuck it in the boot and waited for the ideas to happen. On the journey home it was obvious that the plank would become a bench, because the shape was so well worn in the middle to accommodate bottoms.

At the time I was living near a small hazel coppice, so I visited it one morning and took away a couple of hazel stems for the bench legs. The coppice wood is not used for anything other than pretty shoddy hurdles (fencing) about the area. Coppiced hazel is ideal for chairlegs, weaving and building other complex structures such as coracles. This is exactly what the English tradition of coppicing was for, and so I wanted to take this wood and use it for its historic purpose.

Tree ID: Hazel has a broad tear drop leaf with a distinct serrated edge and hairy bottom side.
Only one hazel stem was needed from the stool to make all my legs.
Pole were cut to lengths in the woodland.
Wrapped with twine to portage.

The legs were simple to make. I used joinery, so no screws or glue would be needed in this bench. I marked the diameter of the tenon joint with a coin and sawed around the diameter to provide a generous length tenon. This could then be batoned with a knife down the length, so the the tenon is revealed like unpeeling a banana.

Marking the tenon.
Marked up tenons.
Sawn around the radius and bayoneted with a knife.
Finished tenon.

Eight holes were drilled into the bench: four leg holes and two rope handle holes. An additional ninth hole was made by mistake. It has no purpose.


Fitting the tenon
Tenons fit!
Chiseled some flat spots to stop legs wobbling.
Legs sawn to equal length.

A couple of finishing touches were added. The cross bars were made from old broom handles. I also had some bright orange trawler rope from Dungeness beach. This kinda felt right for driftwood feel and was a nice accent colour too.