The Journey Into Design

Japanese Bench Design

Japanese Bench Design

Walnut the wood of the yearI just finished this Japanese-style bench; you can see all the completed pictures on the Contemplation Bench Page. An architectural feature I saw several years ago in Portland, Oregon’s Japanese Gardens inspired the design. It had been kicking around in my head for a while, just waiting for the right person to build it for. Well, that time finally came; I found a client in Colorado Springs that was doing a full basement remodel and was looking for a place to relax. They made a spot in their basement for a built-in sauna and a steam shower. I built two of these benches, one to go outside of the sauna and the other to go outside of the shower.

The angled mortises and through tenons for the stretcher are all hand cut, as well as the tenon and wedge that holds the base together. I love this kind of joinery; not only does it add strength to the piece it also adds beauty and a sense of traditional woodworking that you just don’t see in factory-made furniture.

The top of the bench is held into place with through tenons that are wedged with mahogany wedges for a subtle accent. The overall bench is made using walnut and finished with a clear satin finish.

I was originally going to call this bench “The Japanese Wedged Bench” because of all the wedges that hold it together. Still, after showing it to the client, he remarked that his rake for his Zen garden has the same joinery, so I decided to call it a Contemplation Bench instead. However, that could change if I build a bench for his Zen garden to sit and contemplate whatever he needs to contemplate. I would feel obligated to call that bench the contemplation bench.   I`ll have to see where we go from here and on to the next project.

Watch the bench be built.


I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.

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