Your Guide to Creating Stands and Benches (need reviews)

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
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Yes, I have this book. Here is a quick review:

(1) The book covers how to make basic outdoor benches and stands for displaying bonsai outdoors.
(1a) It does not have anything to do with display stands for displaying bonsai indoors or at exhibits.
(1b) It focuses primarily on benches for displaying finished bonsai - versus nursery or grow-out type tables.

(2) The benches are very rudimentary - albeit practical. If you have a bag of concrete, a 4x4 post, some wood screws, and some 2x4's of treated lumber, you can make pretty much anything in the book. There was literally a chapter on how to make a display table out of cement blocks and 2x4's.

(3) The book felt a little light in photos. For example, there might be a single photo of a stand followed by three pages of solid text. There is a chapter on maintenance with no photos whatsoever. This is particularly disappointing because there is a lot of empty space in the book. I counted 6 completely blank pages (at the ends of chapters) as well as a number of half-blank pages. All of this space could have been used to add more photos to the book without increasing the page count. There is a general theme here of bad type-setting and layout; lists of materials with some single spacing mixed with some double spacing, different spacing around section heads, blank lines in the middle of a paragraph, and numerous other layout mistakes. None of this affects the content, but it gives the book a very cheap, tossed-together feel.

(4) Each project included a materials list, and there were a number of engineering drawings in the back of the book. Some of the drawings were nice, some were overkill. For example, there were two full page engineering drawings of the previously mentioned display table made out of concrete blocks and 2x4's. There was also a full page engineering drawing of how to make a rectangular frame out of four pieces of wood. This space could certainly have been used for a better purpose.

(5) Minor quibble, but for these projects the author is constantly mentioning that you want to use a table saw to cut the wood. Take it from a woodworker, you DON'T want to use a table saw for large numbers of angled crosscuts on 2x4 material. You want to use a compound miter saw - particularly since you can carry your miter saw out to the job site in the middle of your backyard. Most of the cuts in this book are basic enough that you could free cut them with a circular saw.

Bottom line, this is a very basic book that didn't really offer (to me) anything new or different. It was very wordy and spent a lot of time describing basic carpentry. However, even the most basic project, when executed well, will look nice in your yard. If anything, most bonsai yards look like the alley behind the local nursery and this book will help motivate you to clean up your space and become more organized. If you are looking for a quick and dirty plan to whip together a shohin table over a weekend, and you want all the parts laid out for you, this is your book. If, on the other hand, you can look at a photo of a shohin table and understand immediately how you would build it, this book does not have enough photos and new ideas to keep you interested.
 

jk_lewis

Masterpiece
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Why don't you Google for "garden bench plans" or "garden table plans" or "garden furniture plans" or any of several other permutations? You soon will have lots of easily adaptible ideas.
 

subnet_rx

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Thanks for the review Bonsai Nut. It looks like that this isn't the book for me. I do not have any finished bonsai, several are in grow pots to develop branching, so a nicer nursery bench would be along the lines of what I'm looking for. I actually have them sitting on cement blocks and 2x4s now. I think the reason I'm still looking for the perfect bench plan is because I don't have the equipment. I have a circular saw and some other smaller tools. So, I continue to look for something better than I have, but within the equipment range that I have. I do want a miter saw soon though for projects such as this. I also simply love reading books that I can skim while I do different things, so I have lots of bonsai books.

Anyway, I digress, thanks again for the review.
 

mcpesq817

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Before you build a bunch of nice stands, it might be worth waiting to see how your collection starts to grow and mature. I started a couple of years ago and bought heavy duty plastic benches from Structural Plastics. They've served me very well, but since then, the average size of my trees has gone up considerably, which is requiring me to rejigger things in the backyard :rolleyes:

So, I guess my recommendation is that before you do anything like sinking 4" posts deep into the ground encased in concrete, it might be worth waiting until your collection gets to the point that you sizes and numbers are relatively consistent. Lots of people use cinder blocks and 2x4s. I'm actually putting my larger trees that don't fit or take up too much room on my benches on stacked cinder blocks which works very well. More importantly, they can be broken down if I need to move things around to accommodate new acquisitions :rolleyes:
 

subnet_rx

Mame
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That's a good point, but I think I'm at my max now. For the past year, if I added a tree, it meant I was taking another away. I wouldn't be able to maintain everything on a consistent basis if I had more. I'm actually considering scaling back by planting some in the ground so everything in a pot is of higher quality. The maintenance of the trees in a pot can get frustrating day in and day out over the course of a few years.
 
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