Bench Interlude

The 350 square feet of space in my studio gives few options for managing multiple projects, but as I wait between stages of milling the black walnut parts for the desk, I must keep busy! The desk is still my top priority, but the parts for the desk stand need some extra time acclimating to the shop, so it's now time to break out this beautiful red elm.

The elm is for a small upholstered bench. The upholstery, of course, will be hand woven by my wife, Carol. And that's really where the story of this piece begins. Carol has been invited to contribute to a book that is being put together by the Weavers Guild of Minnesota to commemorate their seventy-fifth anniversary. Members have been asked to select old weaving drafts from the guild archives and interpret them in new ways. The draft she is using was originally designed as a linen table runner, and now it will be the wool upholstery for this bench. This will be our first Studio Tupla interdisciplinary collaboration, unless you count the mirror backing fabric for the Entry Hall Mirror, which, I'm sorry to say, is hidden from view as the mirror hangs on the wall.

I've been mapping out the parts, to take advantage of the straight grain of the red elm.

The most complicated part of this dissection is finding the four legs. In order to obtain a similar look to the grain on all four sides of every leg, I need to rotate the pattern for the leg to obtain a nice rift (45°) grain pattern through the length of the profile.

It's a bit of a puzzle, and sometimes impossible, but each leg is laid out to optimize the 45° angle, as well as the straight lines of grain on all four sides.

Step by step, each side is cut at the proper angle. First on the band saw, then on the jointer.

Then again, and again...

... until all the legs are cut to their rough profiles.

Other parts follow similarly, however, the angle of the grain is less critical, so there is less waste, and a much quicker process to find the parts.

I'll let these rest while I replace the jointer and planer knives with some that are freshly sharpened. Now it's time to tune up those machines.

Hej då, and happy shavings!

Craig