Memorial Bench
I'm building a garden bench for the family of a 17 year old girl who recently died.  I don't know the family, nor the circumstances of the girl's death.  A lady who works for the father of the girl contacted me through someone else for whom I had done work.  Without much direction I proposed this simple 48" wide bench.  

[Image: ACtC-3dmMg9qq1NjLJcH5RNCoU-YNAF-oT6mUPnn...authuser=0]

It's very much like a bench I built for myself several years ago except the backrest is different.  Some CNC carving will go on both the top and lower backrest pieces.  I had a couple of nearly 3" thick slabs of red mulberry, which has very good weather resistance, so I proposed to use that for the project.  

If you've never seen red mulberry it's an interesting wood.  When freshly cut it's yellow, much like black locust.  Over several months it ages to a very nice chestnut brown color.  Like black locust the grain is fairly coarse, but it works well with both power and hand tools and surprisingly has little tendency to splinter.  

I have most of the parts fabricated now.  The legs are 2-1/2" square. I made a template for the legs and used that to route the legs to final size after roughing them out on the bandsaw.  I cut all the joinery on my horizontal router mortiser for 1/2" loose tenons cut from scrap stock.  I'm working on the arms now.  

[Image: ACtC-3eXWId67g-Ziah93K8S5eC1Vs9lnAHbJrC-...authuser=0]
[Image: ACtC-3dasNMHAxI3yQXJNGzMH3-veqVCTHinKUvX...authuser=0]

The drawing shows the arms are made out of 2-1/2" square stock, just like the legs, but I had a board that was almost 4-1/2" wide so I redesigned the arms to look more like what you see on an English garden bench.  I like it but it seems a little too beefy for the rest of the bench so I want to lighten it up.  I think my two options are to cut a radius in the bottom or top of the arm, similar to the curve in the seat rail.  

What would you do?

It's a good idea (the radius). I think i would put it on the bottom to leave that nice broad arm rest area on the top.
I started with absolutely nothing. Now, thanks to years of hard work, careful planning, and perseverance, I find I still have most of it left.
As always, excellent work and good photos John. Agree with Fred, just radius the bottom. Your design is very similar to Norm's English garden bench. I built one 10+ years ago out of white cedar, it went along with the house we sold five years ago.

I've only had dog beers.

"You can see the stars and still not see the light"
The Eagles: Already Gone
Why not "swoop" the arm rest down from the back to make it lighter?  It'll be a little work but it would lighten the look.

Why the notch in the center of the top back rest and in the support for the seat?
Dumber than I appear
(02-16-2021, 08:16 AM)Dumb_Polack Wrote: Why not "swoop" the arm rest down from the back to make it lighter?  It'll be a little work but it would lighten the look.

Why the notch in the center of the top back rest and in the support for the seat?

Thanks for the input everyone.  DP, does "swoop" the arm rest down from the back mean put a radius in the top of the arm?  

The notches in the backrest and front stretcher is just a design element, an effort to make the bench look a little more feminine.  

OK, I made up my mind and went with plan A, a radius on the bottom of the arms that matches the seat rail.  I cut that on my large bandsaw.  I test fit the arm to see how it looked and now the portion that projects in front of the front leg looked like a big swollen nose.  Hmm, OK, so I cut a radius on it, too, on my little bandsaw.  I rather like it.  

The cut quality is really good off my large bandsaw with carbide blade.  The little bandsaw with a 1/4" is a lot rougher.  The cuts looked like this.   

[Image: ACtC-3eKl_18D6l9q-16t8dfaP8jGSY2Iygq1VOM...authuser=0]

With some elbow grease I could have sanded them smooth, but I have a compass plane and my friend made me a wooden round bottom plane a year or so ago.  They were the perfect tools to clean up the bandsaw cuts.

[Image: ACtC-3d1gitk_4N_sLSpxtZnGesXrDlWFaKXFCr0...authuser=0]

The compass plane is far older than me but still works beautifully. Of course you have to follow the grain so that meant working from both ends towards the middle.  And even working cross grain the little round bottom plane left a pretty smooth surface.  It has a /4" Hock blade that really helps prevent chatter.

[Image: ACtC-3fzmWV5bQAn6S52-IKq2MvP7Pcy6KPHKPiC...authuser=0]

From there it took just a little sanding to finish them.  And here's what it looks like now.

[Image: ACtC-3eF0-GAuoLMVrY3sDSo-JKKpJ3SwxDwFqKQ...authuser=0]

It was your comment, Fred, about having that nice flat surface to rest your arm on that convinced me to leave the top alone.  

I have to round over most all the edges and sand everything and then it will be ready to glue up the end assemblies.  

I think you made a good decision John. The radius on the bottom of the arm really lightened the look and highlights the radius on the seat rail.

I've wanted to make a similar bench for years and your post is giving me incentive to move it up on my priority list!
As always John very nice I also like the re design
neighbour gave me a mulberry saw log a while back beautiful lumber
But when it dried I realized it was from a tree that was struck buy lightning second time I had that happen with free logs
Both times the lumber just fell apart as it dried
It was that nice yellow color but ended up little bits and pieces good enough for kindling not much else
Mulberry does like to crack as it dries, even for trees not hit by lightning.  I had two beams about 3" x 14" x a little over 8' long, plus a couple of 5/4 boards, and working around the cracks I barely had enough for this bench.   

It's a gorgeous Winter day here in WNY with a foot of fresh snow and the sun shining brightly so it's hard to justify being in the basement, but I did get one leg assembly glued up.  The other side will get done after dark.  

[Image: ACtC-3diEN__30yupFvTjuWya8dUgnxFbDmkeORt...authuser=0]

I mostly use System Three T-88 epoxy for outdoor projects.  I used TB III for the outdoor bench on my deck a few years ago and it's been fine, but I like that epoxy has a longer working time and much better high temperature strength.  And once I found out that epoxy is dead simple to remove with white vinegar that eliminated the last resistance I had to using it.  Yes, it's more expensive, but not a lot.  Those two bottles you see cost about $25 and have done a couple of exterior doors, four shutters, and now this bench, with plenty still left.  You can mix it by equal volumes, but I prefer to weigh it on the little gram scale, 10 parts resin to 8.3 parts hardener.  It has a nearly 1 hour working time which makes assembly relaxed, and it cures in about 24 hours.
It looks great.

It might not be in the budget, but a cast brass nameplate showing the dedication would be the cherry on the cake.

Less expensive would be an engraved nameplate.

It turns out that it is not so expensive from  Just $120.00.  I might deliver the bench and ask if they want to add the "upgrade".

[Image: 51jyk1EqHfL._AC_.jpg]
No animals were injured or killed in the production of this post.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.