Designed for the Chicago Botanic Garden This Bench Will Make Any Backyard Look Like an Estate

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BY CHARLES

ml ml PeoPlc al The Chi-

W W cago Botanic Garden callcd w 1 me in 1987, they were look-f T ing for a garden bench well within the English garden-bench tradition but distinctive in appearance, comfortable, durable, and handmade in America. The folks at the botanic garden and I worked together for nearly a year, refining a design. Two trips to Chicago and three prototypes later, we arrived at the design shown here.

A lot of careful thought went into the bench. That thought was directed primarily toward aesthetic and structural excellence. Price and shipping considerations were secondary. I'm quite happy with the results. The Chicago Botanic Garden must be pleased too; the folks there have ordered more than 80 benches through the years.

Teak

The traditional English garden bench is teak. For outdoor furniture, teak is a very practical choice. It's extremely stable and durable and as strong as oak. While the silica in the cells does tend to dull cutting tools rather quickly, teak is reasonably easy to work with cither hand or power tools. And it's quite attractive, whether oiled or left to weather to a silver gray.

Unfortunately, teak is good for so many purposes, shackleton and demand is so high that loggers have destroyed entire forests for the profits. Unlike many woods, however, teak flourishes in single-species plantations. The Dutch began planting teak in Java more than 100 years ago. The teak in the Chicago bench comes from these plantations. If you decide to build your bench out of teak, do get it from a supplier who can certify that it's plantation grown. If you'd rather build with a rot-resistant domestic wood with adequate strength, consider white oak, black cherry or black walnut.

The Bench Parts

Most of the construction of the bench is conventional joinery and should present few problems for the average woodworker who's careful and accurate. Just a few aspects of the bench construction deserve comment.

Adheslves for year-round outdoor exposure must be waterproof. Ordinary white or yellow wood glues are out. In my furniture shop we use WEST System epoxy formulated for building wooden boats, and the slow hardener with it for maximum assemblv time.

Each end assembly has six parts, all of which must come together accurately if the joints are to be tight and gap free. Since the rear leg piece has a bend and the arm has curves, you'll never get it perfect just by measuring. We make up full-size patterns out of Vj-in. plywood and trim them until they fit each other pre-

Lay out full-size plywood patterns for the bench end assembly to ensure a gap-free fit before cutting expensive teak.

Lay out full-size plywood patterns for the bench end assembly to ensure a gap-free fit before cutting expensive teak.

Ends For Garden BenchGarden Bench Images

Turn the decorative "bals" for the arm-leg assembly between centers. Reverse the bal in the lathe to turn the second side.

This garden bench wHI bring a touch of class to your patio or yard. It's traditional yet distinctive and solidly designed to last for generations.

Turn the decorative "bals" for the arm-leg assembly between centers. Reverse the bal in the lathe to turn the second side.

This garden bench wHI bring a touch of class to your patio or yard. It's traditional yet distinctive and solidly designed to last for generations.

Garden Bench Images

CHICAGO GARDEN BENCH

Garden Bench Images

Mortise Vi in. deep

Snug first nut« then lock with second nut

Garden Bench Images

Note: Unless specified otherwise, aM mortises and tenons are V* in. wide, 2 in. high and l'/i in. deep and are centered on the tenon piece.

Garden Bench Images

BILL OF MATERIALS

KEY

FART

QTY.

DIMENSIONS

A

Upper back rail

1

1 '/«" *7'» 69"

B

Lower back rail

1

t 7/ x 2* * 69"

C

Front seat rail

1

1V.-x3V*69"

D

Front leg

2

2V."x2V."x 19V|"

E

Rear leg

2

2 7/ x 5* x 30"

F

Arm

2

2 7/x 3 V/x 22*

G

Bait

2

27/x3Vd»a.

H

Stretcher

2

2Vx 27»" x 18 V,"

1

End seat support

2

17«'X37J"X 18V

J

Mtd seat support

1

17."*37J"« 187/

K

Back slats

15

7j" X 27i" x 20"

L

Seat slats

5

V/x 27^x717/

M

Plugs

4

V da.

N

Phjgs

15

O 2 Vw18 *$" stainless steel cap screw

P 1 Vn-18x3" stainless steel cap screw

O 4 V«-18 stainless sted hex nut

R 6 V stainless steel flat washer

S 15 IV/ #8 Hat head brass wood screws

HARDWARE

O 2 Vw18 *$" stainless steel cap screw

P 1 Vn-18x3" stainless steel cap screw

O 4 V«-18 stainless sted hex nut

R 6 V stainless steel flat washer

S 15 IV/ #8 Hat head brass wood screws

WEST System epoxy, stainless steel txrfts. washjrs, nuts, brass screws, Vr-in. cfla. teak bungs (plugs): JAMESTOWN DISTRIBUTORS. 28 Narragansett Ave.. P.O. Box 348. Jamoitown. R» 02835. (800) 423 0030.

Narragansett Lathe
After turning, remove the lathe center marls on the balls with a 1-Jn. spade bit ground to cat a shalow dish shape.

ciselv, then cut the bench pails to match the patterns. I strongly recommend that you do the same.

The "balls" (actually cylinders) that fit between the armrests and the front legs are turned on both faces. I've turned them two different ways, both of which worked well. You can choose between these approaches depending on what equipment you have. The first approach is to turn the balls between centers, as shown in the photo on page 21. Turn one face and half of the circumference, ignoring the very center of the face, then reverse the ball in the lathe and turn the other face and half of the circumference. After turning, dish the very centers of the faces on a drill press with a wide spade bit modified to cut like a rosette cutter, as shown in the photo on page 23.

The alternative approach for shaping the balls is to saw the circumference with a circle-cutting jig on the bandsaw, then chuck the round blanks in a large three-jaw chuck to turn the faces. Whichever way you turn them, be sure to make both balls to exact diameter.

The armrests have a concave surface at the front that fits over the balls. We first bandsaw this curve, then sand it to fit the ball with a wooden sanding drum turned on the lathe. The diameter of this drum after gluing on 60X or 80X abrasive paper should be the same as the ball's diameter. The drum is powered by the lathe and sands the end of the arm to a perfect fit.

The other curved surfaces, including the rest of the arm surfaces, the rear legs, the seat supports, and the top of the back, are bandsawn and sanded smooth. We shape the front seat rail by roughing it out with bevel cuts on the tablesaw, then finishing with hand planes.

We round over the edges of all the parts with a router in a router table. Before doing so, however, it's important to mark where parts join. Skip rounding

Homemade Plans Bench Drum Sander

A turned wooden sending drum covered with 80X abrasive paper or cloth grinds the front end of the bench arm to match the diameter of the bals.

over the joint areas until after assembly, and then work up to the joint by hand.

A turned wooden sending drum covered with 80X abrasive paper or cloth grinds the front end of the bench arm to match the diameter of the bals.

over the joint areas until after assembly, and then work up to the joint by hand.

Assembling the Bench

The balls between the arms and front legs make it trickv to assemble the bench. It's easiest to fit the ball in place after assembling the rest of the end section. Begin by fitting the seat support and turned stretcher to the front and back legs and pinning them permanently. Next, fit the arm to the rear leg and pin the joint with holes offset about '/* in., and no more. This technique is known as draw boring. There is no con-

To drll the bolt bok in the bench's end assembly, aim a long bit carefuHy down a sight line at the center of the nut hole. Extend the sight Kne with a steel ruler if K helps you to aim accurately.

venient way to clamp this joint, and draw boring pulls it up tight.

The ball should then slip nicely between the arm and the front leg. With the end section flat on a bench-top. inner surface uppermost, orient the ball so the grain runs up and down from the arm to the leg. Hold it there by clamping from the top of the arm to the scat support, as shown in the photos on page 24.

Now clamp the entire end section to the benchtop to prevent movement as you drill the holes for the 6-in. stainless steel bolt that holds it all together. The drawing shows where the bolt, washers and nut must

TEAK: THINK BEFORE YOU BUY

by ted tuescher

Can a conscientious woodworker use teak and still sleep at night? Depending on where the teak grew, buying it may indeed encourage further destructive harvesting of tropical forests.

Teak is native to Southeast Asia, specifically India. Burma, Thailand and Laos. Most of the original stands of teak are gone. The largest remaining teak forests arc in Burma, which has one of the fastest rates of forest depletion in the world. The ruling military government in Burma is cutting teak with little regard for the future. According to The World Resources Institute, few proceeds from these sales of teak benefit the forests or forest-dwelling communities of Burma. (The U. S. is considering a ban on importing Burmese teak because of human-rights violations.)

But Burma is not the onlv source of teak. Un-

like many other tropical hardwoods, teak grows extremely well in plantations. More than 40 countries now have teak farms. Java, an island in Indonesia, has been growing high-quality teak for more than a centurv. Little natural forest re mains on this densely populated island, but carefully managed tree farms ensure an adequate future supply. Seed orchards and bud-grafting sites help develop a healthy and well-formed crop. Rock terracing protects slopes from soil erosion. Cover crops between the rows of trees protect the soil from monsoon rains. In an effort to help consumers locate responsibly produced tropical wood products, the Rainforest Alliance in New York has certified teak from Java as being "well-managed."

To use teak responsibly, ask your supplier for verification that it comes only from plantations. While we don't want to encourage countries to clear more forest to create plantations, using plantation-grown teak will help ensure that the few remaining natural stands will not be cut. Finally, encourage your supplier to participate in the Smart Wood certification program (see Final Pass, page 80) initiated by the Rainforest Alliance. It you'd like more information, write the Rainforest Alliance. 270 Lafavette St., Suite 512, New York, NY 10012.

Garden Bench Images
Detailing, shaping, and finishing by hand produce the subtle variations that mate a prefect friendly and inviting.

go to sccurcly hold the assembly. Notice that the bolt angles forward from the arm to the leg. You'll need a Vs-in. bit with a good sharp spur to drill the bolt coun-terbore in the arm and the nut hole in the leg. You'll need a Vs-in. bit with a long center pilot, like a Stanley Powcrbore, to start the bolt hole accurately in the center of the bottom of the counterbore. Finally, you'll need a 7*-in. bell-hanger bit to finish the long bolt hole.

To begin, draw the line of the bolt on the inner surface of the arm, ball, and leg. This line will be your line of sight when boring the long bolt hole from the top of the arm. You may want to clamp a stick or 3-ft.

Garden Bench Images
Java teak planted in a nursery today will supply woodworkers in 80 years.
Garden Bench Images
Mark the backrest slats for length by fitting them in their mortises at one end and marking the other end whle the bench is temporarily

rule along the line to serve as a longer sight line, as shown in the photo on page 24.

First, bore the 7*-in. counterbore and nut hole. Then start the bolt hole with the Vs-in. Powcrbore. You can now drill the remainder of the hole with an extra-long twist drill or bell-hanger bit, as shown in the photo. Aim carefully down the sight line so the bolt hole comes out in the center of the nut hole.

Bend the washer that fits inside the nut hole to conform to the side of the hole. With tweezers, fit the bent washer and nut onto the bolt. I jam a large screwdriver alongside the nut to keep it from turning as I tighten the bolt with a socket wrench. You may find that a cheap socket fits inside the nut hole better than an expensive one. Don't over-tighten the bolt or you'll crack the arm piece.

The rest of the bench assembly is straightforward and should present no problems.

A Word About Hand Work

We make furniture for a living. The decision to use machines instead of hand tools affects both our productivity and the final appearance and feel of the products. One skilled worker and an appropriate machine can produce as much quality furniture as several skilled workers without machines. That means more quality furniture for more people and more income for us. But machines can't duplicate the subtle variation of hand work; they further isolate the furniture maker from the furniture user.

One of our goals is to combine the economy and precision of machined joinery with the visual and tactile friendliness of hand shaping and finishing. We believe that the people who sit on our benches, eat at our tables, or store their belongings in our chests of drawers experience those qualities. We hope that as you build your garden bench you will give it the individuality, the friendliness, that comes only with hand work. A

Charles Shackleton trained at the West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham, England for three years and sj?ent another fi\*e years working and training with Simon Pearce of Ouechee, Vermont. He works with his assistants in a small workshop in Bantard, Vermo)it.

Woodworking Archive BizOld West Wood Benchs

Hand-cut inlays? Guess again. The graceful vines and leaves on the drawer front of this table were cut with a router.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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