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I live in a house that is easily more than 100 years old. Living here has taught me that the term ‘this ole house’ is the basis of conversation with the repairman I called last week, rather than a syndicated production. By the generosity of God, I grew up on a farm learning to do all that you can to save paying others to do what you might accomplish. Life has taught me that you are a much better person if you mow your own yard rather than get a job, that pays enough money, that after taxes, you can still afford to hire someone else, to mow it for you, and pay for their weekly service, while you also pay a monthly fee to go to the gym or health club, in order to have a place to exercise.

Think about it……..Bob

Saturday, March 21, 2015

What a ... BENCH ! ! !

Recycle throw-a-ways to be collectibles...

Many times when a person is building something from wood, there will be 'end cuts' or left over weird shapes of plywood.  I try to never throw these pieces away.  At the very least size or utility, I use the final item for kindling through the winter in my wood stove that helps to heat my house.   So no matter where I find or get a piece of wood, when it leaves me it will be ashes.

Note the example below:


Here I have an end cut from a 2x4 with nail holes, obvious age, and structural damage.  Also this is a piece of California Red Wood.  I take this piece to my table saw to slice it into pieces kind of like bacon.


I have a slide block I made from another 2x4 end cut with a black piece on the back that sticks out just enough to catch the work piece and push it forward.  I set the fence with the push block adjacent so that there is about 3/16 " or a tad more distance between the blade and the push block.  Next I hold the work piece beside the push block and slide it into the blade, again, again, and so on. 


With the resulting slices, like bacon, I reset the fence with the push block so I can cut these slices into long pieces that are about 1/2" wide.  Being very careful, I am able to get 3 thin pieces from each.  The result is pieces that are about 3/16" thick and 1/2" wide.

Next I find another end cut just made to be the support pieces for the bench.


I have drawn my diagram, scanned it into my computer, print a copy, cut it out, and with clear tape, I attach it to the block.  Next I take this to my band saw and cut away the area that is not needed.  Using a belt sander, I sand one face of the piece to be smooth and unmarked.  I continue the sanding on this piece until the lateral sides are smooth and none of the saw blade marks from the band saw are noticeable.   At this point the piece is ready to be sliced into profile pieces on the band saw.  


I use a vertical fence set about 5/64" from the blade and present the piece lying on the back with the top feeding first.  After each slice, I take time to sand the fresh face on the belt sander.  This will reduce the sanding after you finish all slices and help maintain a uniform thickness.


Now I have all the needed pieces for the assembly of the bench and the supports are all identical.  These must be sanded to a fine finish before any assemble can happen.  Once it is glued together you will regret not sanding first.  I'm not crazy about the sanding, but since this is all Red Wood, the total time is very much less than if it was Oak.

Once all is sanded, I select the two end supports


 and clamp each one to an Oak block I have left over from some other project.  Using my "TABLE TOP (PORTABLE) WORKBENCH" (one of my other blogs on this site), I set two dogs in proper holes and put a strip of wood as a back brace.  I slide the Oak block to touch the back brace and then the bench support slides back adjacent to the block to touch also.  Now I clamp the block and the support together.  I do the same for the other block and support but I put the block on the other side.  The block will insure that the supports are vertical, not leaning, and the block also gives the added feature of making the support perpendicular to the back brace.  As the seat slats are added, I now know they will be perpendicular to the two supports and the supports are parallel to each other.

Here is when the TABLE TOP (PORTABLE) WORKBENCH  really shines.


The dogs are the black metal squares peeking over the back side of the brace.  The supports are attached to the blocks and butted back to the brace.  Finally a piece of board is butted to the front of the blocks and this allows the 2" thick face of the bench vice to apply pressure to the grouping.

I always put the first seat slat in position and slide the two end pieces slightly left or right to insure the 'over hang' at each end is equal before I tighten the bench vice.



I use my gauge that is preset to check both sides for the overhang.  Now I snug the bench vice on my TABLE TOP (PORTABLE) WORKBENCH  so that it will hold all in place.  All is now stable and ready.




The seat has 4 of the slats and the other two are the back slats.  Place all 4 seat slats in place and adjust until they have equal space between each.  Remove the two in the center, then pick the back slat up so you can add glue to the horizontal edge of the support where it was resting.  Gently replace that slat, check the overhang, and hold it there for a few seconds.  Next do the same for the front slat.


After holding it for a few seconds, I get another piece of 2x4 and gently place it on the two slats for a little pressure while the glue sets.  This is usually about 30 minutes.
After a time and before I glue the middle two slats,



I use a short piece of 2x4 to butt it to the two slats already glued.  Clamping this in place will give me the perfect straight line for the ends of all 4 seat slats.  Now I glue the middle two slats, just as before.  At this point I let the assembly set for another 30 minutes before I continue and handle the assembly.

From one of the end supports, I get the Oak block and the clamp.  I use these to get the center support ready to be added to the assembly.


Set this piece beside one of the end supports and make dots with a pencil in positions where you want to put the glue.

Set the assembly aside, add glue to the center support, and place the support in the middle of the assembly area.


Next I put my ruler on the seat slats so that I could locate the center, here it is 7 1/2 inches.  This is the target for the center support.  Carefully set the assembly over the center support and slowly lower it so that when it makes contact with the center support, it will be located correctly.


I take one of my old sanding pads with soft sponge on the back, place the sponge on top of the seat slats, add the 2x4 so there is a flat surface for equal pressure, and set my 8 pound small anvil on top.  This will insure that all 4 seat slats will have good contact and pressure for the glue to harden.  At this point I will let the assembly have at least an hour or two before I continue.

Now I have two slats to glue for the back rest.


Turn the assembly around and rest it on the back.  The rear legs should be butted to the back brace and the seat slats butted to the 2x4 so the new slats will be in alignment.  Make sure where these slats are to be located, then start with the slat closest to the seat.  This is because the when you look at the finished project, you will visually see the results of the seat and the first back slat.  If these are not parallel you will be very disappointed.  Also you will not be boxed in by the other back slat.  Glue and clamp the slat, then let it set for another  30 minutes.  Finally you are ready for the last slat to be added to the back in the same manner.

When I am positioning the slats and finally ready to glue them to the supports, I find a small piece of discarded wood that is just the right thickness, or width, to use for a guide.  This is almost like having a third hand because with alignment, glue, and wanting it to be right ... if I had to also hold a ruler in order to place each piece in the right position then I could easily make a mistake.  Also this will keep me from having to make pencil marks and then later having to sand away those marks.


Here you see the three pieces I used as reference guides while assembling the bench.  These are pieces that I found in my waste bucket that is used to collect pieces that will become kindling ... and they get one last use before they help start a fire.

Final step is two coats of a water base polyurethane.

From an old unwanted discarded piece of 2x4 ...



to a beautiful miniature bench for a child's doll house or a collector.







I also sell such items on eBay under the seller name "stirlingbay".   This all started when I discovered an artist named Diana Manning and her "Family of Friends" shelf sitters.


I feel that these guys, which I really relate to, need a fine bench or chair to set on rather than the edge of a shelf, where they might get knocked off and damaged.

Thanks for looking....

1 comment:

  1. This blog post really shines! It's clear you worked hard on the project and the post. I've got a few ideas I'll share with you when I come visit really soon! <3

    ReplyDelete