The end in sight: We build a kitchen bench

So the build is coming to an end. The last fortnight has seen trenches being dug for water and electrical cables with both our solar, tanks and water cartage to be delivered next week. In the meantime while we wait for the water and the electricity we have been busy finishing off our final pieces of furniture: the kitchen bench and cabinet. Whilst we are still adding the shelves to the kitchen cabinet I thought it was time to share a run down on our second to last piece of furniture: the kitchen bench.

The Kitchen Bench

Our original plans for the kitchen bench was for a bench 1500mm long, 600mm wide and 900 high. Our original plan was to build something akin to the farmhouse kitchen bench here at Ana White’s. All this changed though when we found a supply of nice timber at the back of a local antique place in Huonville. The timber was reasonably priced and wide in selection from Huon Pine, Blackwood, Myrtle, Celery Pine and Black Hearted Sassafras. With so much plywood in the bus we decided to buy a feature piece of timber as our bench top. After three 3 visits we settled on a piece of Black Hearted Sassafras.


Staining the black hearted sassafras with kitchen oil.

At 1900mm long and 430 mm wide this was longer and narrower then we had planned. We had intended to bring it home and cut it down to length but on advice from Tara, we decided that it was too good a piece of wood to do this to. This meant a longer and narrower bench, more of a breakfast bar as such. On the suggestion of one of the fellas at the hardware we went with skinnier oak beams to make the apron (the part on which the table top sits) and legs. The skinny legs and apron chosen as they would hide under the bench top allowing the sassafras to shine in all it’s beauty.

With the wood chosen we headed home to re work the design and get started. I took to painting the bench top with a coat of kitchen oil. The oil was made from nut oil meaning that we could still use food products safely on the bench. Whilst I painted the oil Deirdre worked on the design working out the lengths of the legs and the apron.


Deirdre checking the plan to make sure we have got the apron for the base correct.

As usual there was much finessing around the squareness of the rectangle. No matter how many ways we tried to assemble the wood there was a millimetre or two difference in the diagonal lengths. Whether it was a fault in the cutting or the wood shifting when we screwed, it was still frustrating. It was as we found later something that would present further problems.


Adding the legs. Once again this provided challenges as the legs were slightly different lengths making it hard to get the table to sit square.

After we got the base as square as we could we moved onto the legs. These legs were again made from the same oak lengths we had purchased for the base. To work out the leg lengths we used that old trusty measurement of the size of our hips. This worked out at 900 mm legs and so these we cut and then attached onto the corners of the base.

Once we attached the legs into the corners we then added some support struts across the top. These were added to help keep the base square and for us to use when screwing on the piece of sassafras. With the legs attached and the struts in place we flipped over the table…

To find that the legs were not even. Meaning the table wobbled and didn’t sit flush. Measuring the legs we realised  that one of the legs was 1mm shorter then the others. We thought about cutting the legs shorter to even it out but were worried we would screw it up even further, so settled on it as it was.



Tara and Deirdre working out how to assemble the bench top to the legs. You can see the extra struts for support and the leg bar we have added.

With Tara’s help we flipped the legs over onto the bench top and screwed them into place. We then put the bench top in place and sat back to enjoy our new bench and view.


The bench bar in one of it’s guises as a sowing storage area whilst Deirdre makes some curtains for the bus.

Since the bench bar has been in place Deirdre’s added a few extra screws to the legs, attaching it to the bus wall. It’s made it more stable and a more permanent fixture of the bus, which given that we’re going to be here for 5 or more years is not a bad thing at all.


2 thoughts on “The end in sight: We build a kitchen bench

    • We actually finished the kitchen cabinet yesterday. Will be posting a blog on that with a final photo tomorrow or Thursday. Interesting idea about the video tour.


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