Friday, March 11, 2011

Better Late Than Never


I promised my partner and brother that I'd make each of them a meditation bench for Christmas.

My partner's was finished about two weeks after the holiday.  My brother's was finished last weekend—10 weeks late.


Ah well. Meditation involves patience, right?

My brother did not want any carving on his bench, so I decided to add a little pizzaz by making the bevels on the tenons and mortises more pronounced.

I freehanded the chamfers on my partner's bench, but decided to lay out the ones on my brother's because they would be more noticeable if they weren't dead-on perfect.

This is easy to do. Just draw your layout lines* on all four sides of your workpiece to mark the bottom of the chamfers. Then draw four lines on the endgrain to mark the top of the chamfers.

Remove the waste in between the lines by shaving in an upward/slicing motion with your chisel. Stop before you get to the end of one side, then pare from the other direction. This will prevent tearout at the end of the cut.

If you keep your blade inside the pencil lines as you pare away material, the bevel will be consistent on all four sides.

There are now three meditation benches in our house (I haven't mailed my brother's yet—the finish is curing). One is pine, one is cherry, and one is walnut. All three are almost identical and yet all three have a different feel when you sit on them.  I suppose this has everything to do with the wood itself.

Another curious thing is, the longer my partner has used hers, the more comfortable it's become to her. Again, I think this is due to wood's nature.  Our wooden planes mold to our bodies—why not benches?

Wood is adaptable, warm, and.....forgiving. And I'm hoping my brother possesses the same attributes. heh. Merry Christmas, bro. :o)

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*A friend on facebook asked why I used a pencil to lay out the lines rather than a marking gauge. Here's why: The cutting gauge would have left score marks that would only have been removed if I had chiseled beyond the marks. That would have made it more difficult to keep the bevels consistent.  

20 comments:

Dyami said...

Kari,
Congrats on reaching the end. That's a job well done. The table I built for my wife for mother's day 2010 still needs to be finished, so you've beaten me by a mile.

Todd said...

Can't wait to see it, and very moving gift as I continue to sit zazen!

Alex Comes said...

Love the deep chamfer. Really shows off the joint.

Tom Buhl said...

Cool to have benches in three different woods. Each with unique gifts to give. Fun stuff.

JimK said...

Kari you're not ten weeks late you're 9 months early... it's all relative.
Sharp looking benches and I really like the beveled mortise and tenons. Nice affect.

Douglas said...

beautiful work...as always...

Vic Hubbard said...

It's all in the details. I became a huge fan of nice crisp bevels on the crib. I'm thinking they will be somewhat of a staple going forward. LOVE the affect on the bench. Brother is happy, yes?!?

big buddha said...

Beautiful work Kari!!! I'm sure the building process was meditative for you as well!!

The Village Carpenter said...

Dyami, Mothers' Day 2011 is just around the corner. Go for it! :D

Todd, I hope it serves you well for many years. (Not in one continuous, years-long meditation session, mind you.)

Thanks, Alex. I think the dark wood gives the chamfers a Mission-y look.

Thanks, Tom. :o)

JimK, I like the way you think!

Thanks, Douglas. You might not say that if you saw the prototype. ha ha

Vic, that crib you made is spectacular! On a skill level scale, your crib is a mature grown up; my meditation bench is a newborn baby.

Big Buddha, the hand work was definitely meditative. Figuring out the compound angles? Not so much. ; )

Gye Greene said...

Upon reading your "bench more comfortable with addt'l sitting", "wooden planes conforming to the hand", my reaction was "So, her partner's bench is conforming to her tush?"

Which then made Dyami's comment -- "Congrats on reaching the end" -- strangely amusing. ;)


--GG

The Village Carpenter said...

Well played, Gye. I'm obviously a little "behind" on the clever witticisms.

Bill Abendroth said...

I never would have guessed that a small chamfer would add such a dramatic effect!

Kevin said...

My meditation teacher has said that by mediating in the same place each day you charge that area with your energy so I would have to think you would also be charging your bench as you go and making it more apart of you as well. At least metaphysically.

-Kevin

Woodbloke said...

Hi Kari - excellent, crisp detailing on the m/t's...need to remember that one! - Rob

David Scott said...

Beautiful work the attention to detail is always my failing. Hopefully one day I will slow down enough to focus on what I am doing and not the end product.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog - thanks for making me forget to work for the last hour!

The Village Carpenter said...

Bill, I agree. It's little details that make a piece more special.

Kevin, what a great thought! I passed this along to my partner. She loved it.

Rob, it was David Finck (Making and Mastering Wood Handplanes) who taught me how much chamfers, even tiny ones, can add to a project.

David, on the other side of the coin are those of us who get too caught up in the details and hardly ever finish a project. heh.

Anon, welcome! Thank you for reading. :o)

Shawn G. said...

Three? Aren't saw benches... err... mediation benches supposed to come in pairs?

Al said...

Really lovely piece. I once road tested a similar stool in a priory - the monks used them for prayer. I did not last long before my legs went dead! I trust yours is more comfortable.

Pete said...

What a great result on those through tenons! I really like the impact they have. Thanks for the demo pics too.