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Two Seat Bench


A two seat bench, in cherry, with redheart dowels.
(17 inches high (at the seat). 32 inches high (at the back). 38 inches wide.)

Suitable as a deacon's bench, to place by the front door. Or, use as extra seating in the kitchen, when the horde arrives. Or, put it by the craft table for two or three kids to perch on as they work. (This was our intended use, but we'll keep the others in mind as the need arises).

This is based on a few plans for English Garden benches, with several adjustments. First, the length is chopped down from 60" to 38" to make it a two seater. Next, the arms are removed, to allow people to slide on from the ends (when it is at a table). Finally, the seat and back height were double-checked against a kitchen chair, to match those heights. And, of course, every project gets personal tweaks and adjustments.

The keyhole in the middle slat in the back, as well as the fact of it being wider than the others, was done to tie in to a mission style loveseat that I built some time back.

The dowels pin the tenons in the legs, and cover the screws holding down the seat slats.

A Few Detail Photos

I'm really pleased with the grain and colour of this piece; I wish I could show some better pictures. This is the best I can do for now.

Most of this bench was likely from the same tree, which I think reflects in the overall colour consistency of the wood, as well as the consistent grain.

The seat slats are all cut from 3 boards, and the pieces are arranged so that bits from the same board are next to each other, so the grain looks as close to continuous as I could make it. The seat slats were also carefully arranged to flow together. It's not perfect, but I tried for a bookmatching affect with the small slats. Finally, the top board in the back. It was cut it in an arch, and the board happens to have an arched grain which almost matches the shape of the arch that I cut.

Pocket Holes To The Rescue!

I did make one fairly significant mistake during the building process. Ordinarily, those are dealt with, and hidden, and no one need be the wiser. (Besides, usually I'm the only one who notices the flaws.) In this situation, though, I'd like to share what happened for a few reasons. First, to illustrate how to deal with a problem and fix it, and second, to make sure others can avoid my mistake.

As mentioned above, the primary guidance for the structure of the bench was a pair of English Garden bench plans. In resizing those down to the 38" width that I settled on, I decided that there was no need for a center support under the seat. (A front-to-back support).

That turned out to be a mistake.

Once the basic bench structure was assembled and glued, I placed the seat boards on the bench, for purposes of test fitting and grain layout. I then had a seat to see how things felt. On the whole, everything was fine, but there was a bit of bounce that I was not happy with. So I needed to find a way to add a center support.

To add a center support I also needed a rear (side-to-side) crosspiece, where I could attach the center support. But, as the chair was already assembled, conventional mortise and tenons were no longer an option.

For the center support, I decided to use hidden dowels. Two holes were drilled very carefully into the ends of the center support. Then using some dowel centers, corresponding points on the front and rear crosspieces were marked and drilled. The rear crosspiece was done first, on the drillpress, and then glued. The front crosspiece had to be driled using a hand drill. (Yes, I did try to balance the bench structure on my drill press table. No dice.)

For the rear crosspiece, I chose pocket holes. The holes were later plugged with cherry pocket-hole plugs, and chiseled and sanded flush. Being located underneath the seat, these patches are virtually invisible.

The first photo shows the detail of the dowel holes in the center support. The second shows a detail of the pocket holes on the rear crosspiece. Finally, the bench carcass with the modifications, ready for the seat slats to be attached.


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