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)

*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.