About three years ago my brother Brian passed away at the age of 44. Brian was the epicenter of our family. He was born with a mental disability but pushed through life challenges like all of us, mostly capable of handing himself on his own. Brian was a people person, the unofficial mayor of the little town we grew up. The kind of person that no matter where we were in the US, Brian would meet a friend. Unfortunately, my father passed about 6 months prior to Brian due to Leukemia. My Dad and Brian were very close and we think that Brian just had a hard time with his death, which lead to Brian’s health deteriorating.
My father was a 2nd generation cabinet maker which lead his boys to continue the tradition. I remember when I was very young, going on Saturdays to his work (some custom woodworking shop), sitting on the old wood work benches and watch him finish up some projects. I still have some hand planes and tools he and my grandfather used. I use them in my shop now.
So after my brother passed. My mother mentioned of buying a bench to be placed in memory of my brother at a Respite Center (day home for people who have conditions like my brother). Brian was the “King of the Castle” (the home) and made so many memories with everyone there.
I told my Mom that I couldn’t allow something to be bought and placed in memory of our Brian, having brothers that are professional (my other brother) and semi pro (me) woodworkers. You know Mothers, she didn’t want to bother us because we are so busy with our jobs, families and other projects. I told my Mom this.. No matter what, Brian would get ANYTHING he asked for. No matter the cost or difficulty getting it. Why? because he asked for so little in his life. To friends, it was maybe cookies, milk and a conversation. To family maybe a new watch, music tapes and headphones. That’s it.. that’s all that made him happy. Brian’s life was so simple in materialistic goods. It is something that reminds me when the “latest and greatest” come out.. “Milk and Cookies with a good conversation” that’s all you need!
Brian would get his bench from his brother!
So for the last 3yrs, life has gotten in the way..
Today… I can’t let that happen anymore..
About 1yr ago I looked for English style bench ideas. I like to “bulk” of rails and the simple contours of the back. I ended up buying “Norm’s” plans.
This afternoon, I’ll mark up the plans a bit to allow for extra length (Brian would want more people to sit with him) and do a take off list of materials.
I am leaning towards white oak for wood. Epoxy for glue. Either leave natural or coat with some of the new outdoor finishes on the market. I had good luck with Sikkens Cetol
Some would let it naturally grey but my thought is that I have to come back and give it a fresh coat maybe once a year. That might be a good thing!
I plan on taking a good picture of Brian and having his portrait laser etched into a center back slat of the bench. Probably 14” wide and then fill in the slats like normal on the left and right. My laser guy dropped off the earth, so I need to fine a new one. Maybe a few around here on Ljocks.
Today is a good day!