Garden Bench

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The Wizard

Established Member
2 Nov 2002
Reaction score
Chesterfield, England

I have received a request from my in laws for a garden bench. I have located a suitable plan that, at this stage, I think I can follow but would like some advise on the selection of timber. :?
I am without doubt a novice woodworker so require something tolerant of my skills but also something that will be durable.

I would be grateful of any forthcoming advice.


Hi Chris,

Oak is a good wood for this sort of project, Teak is another and Cyprus is also good, but all are very expensive. You could also use pressure treated pine, its not pricey and will last for years. There are no doubt other hard woods that would be suitable, but perhaps less expensive, perhaps another memeber could give some more info on this. I hope this helps.

Hi Chris

Many of the native UK hardwoods are not really suitable for sustained external exposure. although, as mentioned Oak is good, but make sure that it is European oak as the American stuff, whilst cheaper, is nowhere near as durable (different genus). Many other native species such as beech and ash are simply not durable enough, but if you can get it Elm should be durable (it was used for narrow boat and cart bottoms), it does, however, tend to move a lot in service which is something to watch in your design. An alternative to Teak, and normally a bit cheaper than either oak or teak is Iroko, a timber specified for harbour pilings, amongst other things and popular for kitchen worktops.

If you go down the treated timber path, specify "pressure tanalised". It generally comes only two colours in the UK, green or brown depending on your supplier. When cutting it, wear a mask and wash your hands afterwards (or wear gloves) as the tanalising compound has a cyanic base, I believe. This means it should not be planed, only sawn to length. Remember to treat the cut ends with a rot-proofer as the pressure treatment normally only treats the outer 3 to 7 mm of timber. If you need to plane or shape timber, you may need to find a timber supplier who will post-treat your timber. This would allow you to cut and shape the components before treatment. I believe the George Hills Group offer this service. We have a branch not too far away in Oldham (I've used them for cut-to size fencing and decking components), you may have other companies in your area who can offer the same service. Finally, tanalised timber needs to be left 3 to 4 months before being stained in any way as it is still "wet" after treatment and can exude tanalising fluid on contact. This may also preclude you from using the piece for its first month or so, especially if the timber has been freshly treated and the weather is wet or cold. If there are young children or small animals they should not be allowed to chew the timber especially when "fresh" because of the nature of the tanalising compounds.

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