Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Sitting down on the job

By Justin Newcombe

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Spending time outside is much easier when there's somewhere comfy to park. Justin Newcombe makes a seat that begs to be used.

Justin Newcombe takes a well-deserved rest on his garden seat. Photo / Natalie Slade
Justin Newcombe takes a well-deserved rest on his garden seat. Photo / Natalie Slade

I have spent a good deal and time and energy in the front garden this summer but because we don't exactly have indoor-outdoor flow, carrying a plate of bikkies and a cup of tea becomes a bit of a bumble. What really seals the deal is there is nowhere really comfortable to sit when you finally make it out of the house. I could sit on the front step but actually I would rather sit on a bucket in the veggie garden. I needed a permanent front seat.

I checked out some of the kitset stuff at Bunnings, which I could be sitting on in an hour from start to finish, but I thought it might get lost in the foliage and if the seat becomes unnoticed it will also become unused. I wanted big and beefy.

With this in mind, I built one from scratch using macrocarpa sleepers. Sleepers are big and heavy enough to have a lot of visual gravity so a seat made from them wouldn't be overlooked and therefore unemployed. The basic technique used to construct the seat is notching and screwing. This makes the seat structurally very sound; in fact it sits together perfectly well with hardly any fixings at all. Interestingly, I hardly ever got out the tape measure on this project, instead I clamped the timbers in place then marked out the cuts.

The finished height of the landing underneath the seat will be about 400mm from the front of the seat because the seat is reclining even lower from the back. This sounds quite low but the seat is designed to be sat back into so when I assume the position my legs are comfortably splayed out before me.

Step 1

Dig two holes for the posts 800mm deep and install the posts. Mine are a metre apart.

Step 2

Square the posts using two lengths of timber with a deep profile, 200mm minimum. Attach the timber top and bottom to keep the sleeper posts together. As long as the sleeper posts are flush with the timber profile, top and bottom, the angle of the posts should be exactly the same.

Step 3

Brace the posts securely at the desired recline, using spare 4 x 2. I braced mine at the top because I was using a fence to secure them but you could brace into the ground. I wanted the bracing out of the way. I worked around the bracing, only removing it once the seat was completed.

Step 4

Set the posts in concrete. I used instant concrete (extra strength). This meant as long at the posts were secure I could start work 20 minutes after pouring. Follow the instructions carefully. If you use regular concrete wait 24 hours minimum and even that's a bit marginal.

Step 5

Notch and screw on right angles to each post (also notch the post) to hold the seat. Mine were 700mm long to create a seat 500mm deep. Using a string level and line make sure the seat angles are level with each other. This gives you a frame for the seat planks.

Step 6

Notch seat frame and timbers then screw. Notch the back post and timbers and screw.

Step 7

To finish remove the bracing. Trim posts then sand with a belt or disc sander.

- NZ Herald

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