In Mid/Late September a friend of ours mentioned to Stephanie that she was looking for something like a window seat with book shelves/storage…sans window. I jumped at the opportunity to try my hand.
I had a plan by William Draper, a PA craftsman from an August 1996 edition of American Woodworker, pg. 32 (off of google). I had been really wanting to try my hand at the bench. I loved the profile, the simple style, and the chance to hone basic skills such as mortise & tenon.
I wish I had some sugarpine, but the cheapest wood for the dimensions was the glued up stain grade pine at Lowes.
My question was how it would look with shelving and how comfortable it would be at 24” high. Our friend wanted the shelves to be at least 10” each and all very sturdy.
When I finally sawed the dado grooves, I ended up missing the shelf height by a 1/4” and 1/2” on each of the shelves due to poor measurement, but overall the design worked. But I was worried that I would have to sell this piece to someone else and start over, but our friend decided it would be just fine and really loved the style. I wasn’t sure it would work though, because she had chosen the shelf dimensions specifically to fit her books.
The Legs & Shelves
I followed Mr. Draper’s suggestion to use a pattern for the legs and I also routed a circle and star/cross pattern on the outside legs. It was difficult to get the pattern just right and then reproduce it on the four legs. It took me about a week and a half to get the legs close enough to one another (using a jig saw, coping saw, files, drawknife, sanders, and a razor blade). The plywood pattern had tear-out, the jigsaw cut on an angle when it was not supposed to, and though the coping saw and drawknife were the safest route, my hand skills are still quite wanting. There must be an easier way!
I leveled the tenon shoulders for the table top/mortises, and made the sweeping profiles and ½ circle cutouts similar. Then I did the dados for the shelves with a regular table saw blade (I wish I had made them stopped dados). This is what I had after input from a fellow lumberjock about adding a crossbeam for support:
As you can see in the pictures, there are 8 tenons awaiting the mortises in the top of the bench. Only two tenons would survive the design process. Find out more as you read the next entry of this blog.
Zoom in of repair of mistakenly cut dado
-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν