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Church pews project

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Blog series by inchanga updated 452 days ago 14 parts 23555 reads 19 comments total

Part 1: Recycled church pews

573 days ago by inchanga | 3 comments »

Thsre are five 12 foot long pitch pine church pews in the photo dating back to circa 1880. The client is keen to retain them in the local area in the form of a variety of furniture pieces i.e. dining table, coffee table, monks bench, butchers block, bookcase etc. The first job is to break the pews up into manageable pieces to see exactly what is usable and then take them to be chemically stripped. I experimented with sanding the old finish off but it is far too time consuming and does...

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Part 2: ready for stripping

565 days ago by inchanga | 4 comments »

The pews have now been broken down ready to be taken to the stripping facility. Theoretically the chemicals should enhance the natural appearance of the wood but i have everything crossed just in case things don’t turn out quite as expected. I will know by the end of next week just how much usable timber I have.

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Part 3: back from the stripper

558 days ago by inchanga | 4 comments »

insert here The pews have now been successfully chemically stripped and I am very pleased with the results. There is no way I would attempt to strip this amount of timber by hand, I think it would be a recipe for losing the will to live. The grain, totally hidden by the previous finish, is now starting to show through and it will be further enhanced by sanding and finishing. The timber is still wet from the stripping process so has now been put indoors to dry out before starting ...

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Part 4: starting the joinery

545 days ago by inchanga | 0 comments »

Well after a couple of frustrating weeks waiting for the timber to dry out after the stripping process I have finally managed to start building the coffee table. The legs and stretchers have had one coat of Danish oil after being thoroughly sanded. I anticipate giving them another four coats or so and then a couple of coats of wax. You may recognise the shape of the legs, they previously formed the decorative moulding along the top of the pews backrest…... I have also dr...

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Part 5: finishing coffee table

542 days ago by inchanga | 2 comments »

The coffee table base was given four coats of oil before glue up and assembly. The photo shows the use of pocket hole screws in place of clamps. Given multiple dowels, reinforced with screws and good quality glue, there is no reason why this assembly should not last 160 years like the original pews. It will certainly outlast me….... I sanded the top through the grades up to 240 grit and it is shown with the first coat of finishing oil applied. At the moment my intent...

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Part 6: Dining table start

541 days ago by inchanga | 0 comments »

The coffee table is finished apart from another couple of coats of oil so it’s time to start on the dining table. Cutting to width on the table saw left me good edges that did not need jointing. Although with long grain joints like this biscuits are not normally necessary for strength, I decided to use them to assist in lining up the boards as much as possible in order to minimise sanding afterwards. By accident I started using chalk instead of a pencil to mark up boa...

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Part 7: Dining table top and legs

540 days ago by inchanga | 0 comments »

The dining table top has been taken out of clamps, sanded and the first coat of finish applied. The pictures show the underneath of the top ready for finishing and after finishing with two coats of lacquer and a coat of wax applied. The upper side of the top was sanded to 240 grit and is shown after one coat of laquer. I have reverted back to a lacquer finish because in appearance it is as good as the oil finish and it dries much faster. The table legs have also been...

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Part 8: Assembling the base

537 days ago by inchanga | 0 comments »

I used to get a project fully assembled before sanding and applying finish but with this project, being unsure of how each piece of reclaimed timber would react to sanding and finishing, I took the precaution of getting the bulk of the work done before assembly. In this way i could reject any pieces that did not turn out ok before they had become an integral part of the completed project. In fact, I found it a much easier process to carry out the work this way and it is the approach I wil...

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Part 9: completed farmhouse table and start on butchers block

534 days ago by inchanga | 0 comments »

A reminder of what wed started with. The coffee table has been delivered and the farmhouse dining table is now ready for collection. I was going to put breadboard ends on the top but the customer likes it just the way it is. It does not show up well on the photograph but there is some nice end grain adding character to the piece. I am now moving on to the butchers block starting with laminating the legs. Using reclaimed material it has been necessary to do some patching and r...

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Part 10: butchers block in clamps and ding table in situ

531 days ago by inchanga | 0 comments »

The dining table has been deliveredn and is shown in its final resting place. Salvaging enough timber to make the butchers block top has been a nightmare. The maximum thickness of the pieces i finished up using was only just over an inch which came down to just less than an inch after machining the faces. The maximum width of the pieces was only 3 inches. This meant I had to assemble and glue three times as many bits of wood as i would normally use on a top this size. It cost a fortu...

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Part 11: Butchers block finished startin monks bench

526 days ago by inchanga | 1 comment »

Apart from a little tidying up the butchers block is now finished and ready for collection. Because it is made from 160 year old timber, complete with knots, rust stains from iron nails, splits and cracks etc. it might be described as having plenty of character. (or faults which character used to be called). It is certainly functional, extremely strong and should last for decades. The finish and strong rustic style also suit the existing kitchen in which it will be used. The b...

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Part 12: Monks bench finished

522 days ago by inchanga | 2 comments »

The monks bench has now been completed and with it the last item of the Pews Project. This is just as well because I really had to improvise and glue up a lot of bits and pieces in order to salvage sufficient timber to complete the bench . The lid is hinged to provide a useful storage space underneath. I made mitred corners on the front panel and seat backrest and I prefer this look to conventional 90 degree joints. The bench was finished with three coats of pre cat lacq...

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Part 13: thoughts on recycling timber for projects

521 days ago by inchanga | 1 comment »

Having just recycled four 160 year old 12 foot church pews and manufactured the furniture shown here I am in a position to comment on the process from an operational and financial point of view which i hope may help LJ’s involved in similar projects. Firstly let me say that the customers are absolutley delighted with the pieces. The pews are from their local church and they wanted them to be saved for emotional reasons as well as providing much needed furniture for their new...

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Part 14: Bookcase

452 days ago by inchanga | 2 comments »

Some time ago I thought I had finished making several peices of furniture from 160 year old church pews. Recently the customer came back and asked if I could salvage enough timber to make a matching bookcase. With a great deal of difficulty, by laminating pieces together, incorporating and staining new pieces to match the old where I ran out of original timber and repairing quite a few boards to make them usable, I finally managed it. I was concerned it might be a bit too rustic, ...

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