Seiza Bench

Low Seating

Low cedar bench

October 2009

horizontal rule


As with many things Japanese, it is traditional that a kumihimo braider sit seiza in front of the marudai. Seiza is not kneeling, as some believe. It looks much the same, but you are supposed to be sitting on your feet and ankles. For a Westerner raised to sit in chairs, this position is difficult and painful. If done for long periods of time, the feet and lower legs suffer from a lack of circulation and often "go to sleep".

As with many things Japanese, the world has developed ways for Westerners to cheat.

Search the web for "seiza bench" and you'll find a variety of benches very similar to this one. There's room underneath for your feet, and the slanted top holds your butt at the proper angle, so that the effects on your posture are similar to real seiza.


My bench is made almost entirely of leftover cedar 1-by-6, with a few pieces of poplar dowel used as fasteners. This bench contains no metal hardware. It is finished with lineed oil.

The Process

I wanted to use this project as more practice with hand tools, so no power tools were used to construct this bench. I used a ryoba style pull saw to cut the pieces to length, and to cut the edges of the slots that receive the legs. I used chisels to clean the waste wood out of the slots. To drill the holes for the pegs, I even used an auger gimlet instead of a drill.

The seat is about 25 inches long. I cut both legs from a single 13 inch piece of cedar, with the longer edge being 7.25 inches long and the short edges being 5.75 inches long. The slots are 3/8 inch deep, and inset 1.5 inchs from the end of the seat.

Low cedar bench

After gluing, assembly, and fastening, I sanded the entire bench with sandpaper. Then, I used ultra-fine #0000 steel wool to both apply the linseed oil and smooth the wood. It only took two applications of oil to get the surface I wanted.

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