School Walnut & Maple Bench

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Project by JohnGreco posted 06-16-2011 03:47 PM 1776 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My daughter’s school has a bench near the front office where they attach small engravings to the top rail as teachers and staff retire. They include the person’s name and the dates they worked at the school. The top rail of that bench is now full, and with 6 more retirees this year they asked me if I would make them a new bench.

The old one was Walnut with a Maple top rail, which they wanted the new one to be as well. After designing a bench for them and getting approval, I got to work.

This is the first bench I ever made. The school gets extremely high humidity, so I wanted to be sure the bonds would hold securely over the years. All of the pieces are fitted with mortise and tenon joints except for the seat slats, which were notched out to create a more secure lap joint over the supports. Gorilla Glue was used through to make sure there was no movement in the joints that might, over time, start to make them loosen.

I didn’t want to use any nails or screws. My wife asked me why, and all I could say was if you have to ask why then you wouldn’t understand.

The design was meant to give the center the ‘heaviest’ feeling with lighter ends. I gave the top rail a curve that followed through into the side rails. The backrest slats go from thinner on the ends to thickest in the middle. The seat slats mirror this, but in a front-to-back pattern of thinner to larger and back to thinner.

The arm rests have a taper on the inner edge about 6” before they reach the back. The front legs also have tapers on the 2 inner sides.

When I dropped it off, the Principal and staff were beyond thrilled :) The Principal went to my daughter’s class and took her down to the bench so I could snap a shot of the two of them together (first picture). He is among those retiring and will be very missed.

The bench was finished with tung oil. Thanks for looking :)

-- John

9 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3639 days

#1 posted 06-16-2011 03:48 PM

Thats a beautiful bench.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3446 days

#2 posted 06-16-2011 03:57 PM

Very nice job John. Great work. I bet they are very happy with it.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View JohnGreco's profile


284 posts in 3021 days

#3 posted 06-16-2011 06:46 PM

Thank you both. Yes, they were extremely happy with it :)

-- John

View Lenny's profile


1593 posts in 3493 days

#4 posted 06-16-2011 08:39 PM

Nicely done John. You took what would otherwise be a commonplace item (ho hum, another bench) and through your design elements and detail made it a beautiful piece of furniture. The curved top rail that continues on the rear side rails, the thinner to thicker idea, etc., all come together to make a wonderful bench. Kudos!

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View kenn's profile


810 posts in 3685 days

#5 posted 06-16-2011 09:24 PM

I thought the subtle taper at the bottom of the legs was a real nice design touch. Kudos to you on a great project.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View JohnGreco's profile


284 posts in 3021 days

#6 posted 06-16-2011 10:01 PM

Thanks! I’m not sure if many people passing by the bench will notice any of it (especially since most passing it are Kindergarten-3rd grade), but I know it’s there and I’m pretty proud of what I came up with :)

-- John

View kiefer's profile


5618 posts in 2633 days

#7 posted 06-17-2011 06:28 AM

Great bench and place for people to see it and remember the staff in this way is great !
Great workmanship and design.

-- Kiefer

View Skylark53's profile


2661 posts in 3026 days

#8 posted 06-17-2011 03:07 PM

Nice design John and great attention to detail. The bench looks rugged enough to be a fixture for many, many years.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View JohnGreco's profile


284 posts in 3021 days

#9 posted 06-17-2011 07:08 PM

Thank you both :) I do hope it is enjoyed for many generations to come through the school, today they had it up on stage while they announced the retirees and attached their engraved discs to the top rail. There 1 day and already it’s been put to work :p

-- John

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