Shou Sugi Ban or Yakisugi is a traditional means of preserving wood. Usually used as siding it provides water-proofing, insect resistant and fire retardant qualities. Yes you literally burn the wood! If you would like the technical information just click here. This was the perfect choice for my “Firewood Bench”
With my garden planted and the pond area cleared it was time to sit back and relax. The problem was no where to do that. I priced out buying a simple bench. About $500 on average. Even with the cost of pressure treated I could make maybe two benches for a hundred bucks. With inflation on the rise and material costs out of touch with reality I decided I would just get some pressure treated lumber and make a cheap bench to get me through until I could make something nicer over the winter. So a quick search for bench plans yielded a few ideas but I kept my design simple.
I figured there has to be a way to make at least 3 benches for around $100. During my search for plans I kept coming across articles about Shou Sugi Ban. I read a few articles and thought I could use regular lumber instead of Pressure Treated. So off to the store and picked up 3 2″x12″ by 10’s and 3 2″x6″x8′ construction grade lumber. I purchased Premium 2″x12″‘s for a nicer top. I did purchase 1 2″x4″x8’ pressure treated board. More on that later.
- Propane torch (large)
- Propane torch (small)
- Stiff scrub brush
- Heat resistant gloves (Oven mitts)
- Air compressor
- Blow gun
- Wiping rags
I happened to have some tools here that I use for other maintenance tasks around the property. I have a Propane torch that was designed to burn weeds. It connects to a standard propane tank used for grills. It has a large burner and sounds like a jet engine when using it. This is definitely not for indoor use. You can use a typical torch for plumbing but for large areas the weed burner is the way to go. The small torch is good for detail work. The stiff brush is for cleaning after burning (Use gloves) The blow gun makes cleaning up after scrubbing easier but not required.
I built 2 benches with out using the Shou Sugi Ban technique. The only step that’s different is I burned all the wood prior to cutting or assembling bench #3.
The typical bench height varies from 16″ to 19″s. I chose 18″. With this in mind I subtract the thickness of the top (1.5″s) from 18″s leaving me with 16.5″ for the sides which are cut from the 2″x12″x10′ board. This would leave me with a 63″ top for the bench. This is where a decided to use the pressure treated 2″x4″.
Since this will be an outdoor bench in direct contact with the ground I erred on the side of caution and added this to the foot of the legs. So i need to subtract 1.5″ more from the legs. So the legs are now 15″ x 2.
To add a little character to the bench I decided to tip the legs in on a slight angle. I tipped the legs in at 5 degrees. It’s not much but is visually more appealing.
The top and bottom are cut at 5 degrees and the lower leg support are also cut to 5 degrees on each end. Simple cuts on the chop saw and a more interesting look.
I was able to make a roughly 5 foot bench top and legs from one 2×10 and the support from 1 eight foot 2×6. The feet are slightly wider than the legs for added stability.
The first two benches were left to naturally age. No finish of any kind. In time the should turn a light grey color.
For the Shou Sugi Ban bench I wanted to try this technique so I put a little more planning into the finish. Using the torch I burned the wood until some of it had charred. I then scrubbed with a stiff plastic bristle brush. Metal brushes remove to much material. I then cut the legs from the board and burned the ends of the top so the burning technique was done on all bench top surfaces and brushed again. I then thoroughly cleaned all the surfaces.
To add the color of choice, in my case red, I had some TransTint dye. I diluted the dye in water and made a few samples until I was happy with the result. I was surprised how well the grain absorbed the dye. I used the dye full strength on white oak for my Barn door Handle project.
With the dye dry I did a light sanding. The wood feels surprisingly soft. To make the color pop it needed a clear coat. The goal was a cheap bench so maintenance was not even a thought. So I had some Teak oil left over from an old project and decided that would be the least maintenance I was willing to do. The color really pops and after sitting in the sun and rain for some time now the color is still amazing.
This was just a quick project so I could relax by the garden or pond. They serve the intended purpose but as soon as I was done my wife decided she would like a bench with a seat back on it. Check back for a future post for a possible new bench project. Hope you enjoy the Firewood Bench project.