For the past few years I’ve wanted to build bench seating for the fire pit area out back. I knew this project wouldn’t be the easiest one since I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do – but I didn’t think it would be THIS hard.
- Metal Tube Bending for Bench Seating
- Problem Solving
- Cutting Down the Tube
- Bench Seat Planks
- Finishing it Off
A while back I picked up a huge metal tube bender and I haven’t had the opportunity to use it yet – until now. This tool is super heavy and bulky making using it tricky. If you’re using this tool, extra hands is definitely helpful. Don’t grow extra hands, borrow a friend’s hands. Just make sure to return them.
Using Fusion 360, I can use the model to see what the measurement of the curve needs to be. This will allow me to know how much I have to bend the tubing through this insane process. Once I hit that measurement, I would be done bending. Just call me Superman.
The instructions that came with this tool weren’t helpful so it certainly took some trial and error as the day went on using it. The first piece we tried to bend was one for the books. We started out with the tool attached to the workbench in the shop. When we realized it was going to get bent too tall for the ceiling height, we moved it outside and attached it to a step stool. After Anthony broke the step stool trying to bend the tubing, I realized we could use (SEVERAL) clamps to attach it to the front bumper of the green Cruiser.
Clamping the bender to the cruiser allowed for more strength but the process still seemed….wrong. I tried another piece of tubing using the same process – metal tube bender, WD-40, attached to the front bumper and somehow – by magic or the grace of God – I could bend it with one hand. Just when I was nearing the possibility of having enough of a curve, I took the tube to the fire pit area of our backyard to check in on the sizing.
Note – that as you curve metal tubing, it will get harder as the bend starts compounding on itself. It causes more friction as it’s rolling making it a bit more difficult. But it’s still not as hard as the first one. That one was a doozy.
Using a portable band saw, I cut the tubing to the correct length and cut the pieces for the legs before heading back in the shop to weld. I tacked the cross beams and legs in place across the curve.
I knew I was going to use cedar planks but I needed to do quite a bit of math to find the right ways to curve them perfectly along the bend metal tubing. I found the center of the curve to mark where I need to cut the planks into wedge forms. Using a taper cutting jig for the table saw made the cuts perfect wedges.
Once I got all the planks into place, I used perforated angle, made cuts in it to be able to bend it to the curve of the tubing and used that to attach the planks to the bent tubing. I used short screws and washers. Next, I flipped the bench over and sanded down the edges to smooth out the curve and not be so sharp on the back of legs.
To wrap it up, I added some 3D printed caps for the end of the tubing to keep out any dirt, rain and bugs. I really don’t want a tiny bee hive starting in that tubing. Last, I added some solar powered LED fairy lights underneath of the bench just to cast some light onto the ground while it’s super dark out.
Very very last I topped it with a Totalboat finish so that the wood would last outside against the elements. We’ve already spent a few evenings out by the fire enjoying some s’mores and just getting to talk through life. I put off this project for a while because I knew there were parts that would be hard and I just wasn’t looking forward to the math. There’s lots of hard things in life whether it’s hard conversations to have or just hard projects to build. Take a deep breath and take the next step forward and make it happen. I believe in you.
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- SawStop cabinet saw
- Dewalt 20v drill driver combo
- Dewalt Miter Saw
- Orbital Sander
- Shop Fox Hanging Air Filter
- 2HP Dust Collector
- 1 Micron bag
- Digital Angle Gauge
- Taper jig
- Glowforge (laser)
- Ultimaker 2 Extended 3D printer
- Ultimaker 3
- Original Prusa i3 MK 3
- Form1+ SLA 3D printer
- Silhouette Portrait (vinyl cutter)
- All filaments, 3d printing supplies from MatterHackers
- MIG welder *
- TIG welder
- Welding mask (auto darkening)
- Welding gloves
- Welding magnet
- Angle grinder *
- Cut off wheels
- Metal cutting bandsaw *
- 10″ Evolution Miter Saw for cutting Steel, Aluminum, Wood, etc.