PDA

View Full Version : Project: Black Walnut Natural Edge Bench



Jim Becker
09-03-2006, 11:07 PM
You may recall the "lumber gloat" that I had not long ago when my cabinetmaker neighbor was cleaning out his shop and gifted me a bunch of material that he didn't feel he would be able to use. You know, "trash" like purple heart, mahogany, bocote and rosewood. Well, there happened to be a nice black walnut crotch slab there, too. I was curious about this dusty, dirty crotch slab actually looked like, so while I was in-between shellac applications on the tiger maple Shaker style candle stand (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=32449) project, I decided to run it through the drum sander a bit and see what was revealed...

46071

Ok...that's nice! Hmm. 'Need a bench for the kitchen for putting on shoes and boots. Hmm. Natural edge...nice! Ok, let's do it! So I kept the drum sander going for a very long time with 36 grit, making this slab "relatively" flat and workable. Switched to 80 grit for a bit to take out some of the scratching and then broke out the Rotex to complete that task. (Sorry...no pictures of all that work. I forgot in my excitement of actually working on projects IN my shop for a change)

I have a few more black walnut slabs in "inventory" from a large tree that came down on the property back in 2000, so I picked out one of those that really wasn't usable for a seat or table top and cut it down with the Festool saw on a rail to make a couple of hefty legs, paying attention to getting some nice crotch figure for them, too. One is 13 1/2" wide and the other is 10" wide. I decided to make the bench, itself, 36" wide, so I chose the start and end-points and again used the Festool saw on a guide rail to make the cuts, keeping the two ends parallel. Some additional shaping was done with the sanders.

46072

Since this piece would be used for seating and live on a brick floor, I wanted a stretcher between the legs for additional stiffness--a through tenon would look great, so that is what I chose to do. I did some layout on the bottom of the bench portion using the legs to determine the exact placement of this cross member to be installed 7" down from the slab. The mortises were opened up at the DP with a nice 1 1/4" Forstner bit and then completed by hand at the bench, using these great hold-downs I got from Joel at Toolsforworkingwood.com. (They really are great!) It took awhile to whack things and pare things smooth and square, but it was a good job to be doing while the USL coats were drying on the candle stand and the natural edge table I had to repair.

46073

46074

In the mean time, I also roughed the tenons on the stretcher at the TS and BS and then brought it to the bench for final fitting of each end. Please note that I purposely roughed them larger since through-tenons really need to fit properly on the visible end. Paring them down at the bench with a variety of tools, including chisels, planes and, umm...sandpaper...was just the ticket. I only need to do a very little "sliver filling" once things were finally assembled. Here's the first one after fitting:

46075

Jim Becker
09-03-2006, 11:08 PM
Then it was on to the other end, refining the tenon until it slipped very snugly into the other leg.

46080

Once the stretcher tenons were complete, it off to the TS to chamfer the ends.

46081

And then, time for a dry-fit of everything after installing some dowels between the legs and the slab. These provide both some alignment and joint-strength. Yes, I could have used a spline or a couple of lose tenons for this, but I intended to use a few hidden screws to reinforce the glue and dowel joints. A few swipes of a rag with mineral spirits once again shows that this is going to be a very pretty piece.

46082

The dry fit was satisfactory, so it was time to glue everything up and clamp. Note that I had to use a hefty caul on the wide end since the jaws of the clamps could not reach the bottom of the leg. Once things were clamped, I installed the countersunk and hidden screws and did some minor "repair" of the mortises using slivers of walnut to hide a few small, but noticeable gaps.

46083

And this is how things were at the end of the day...fully assembled and ready for a whole lot of additional sanding and then the finish. That will be BLO, shellac and on the top of the slab, some gloss USL to allow the bench to take more of a beating as it certainly will with a couple kids around.

46084

I'll get all that started tomorrow after mowing the grass...for about the first time in a month. (no rain until this past week...)

BTW, this is an example of a "no plans, no drawings" project. Pieces are laid out and fitted in situ and the design just evolves along the way. It's sometimes fun to work this way!

Art Mulder
09-04-2006, 12:02 AM
Jim, that looks like a wonderful "surprise" project for your family. I love it when a project pops into my mind and just comes together blindingly fast like this.

I'm concered about the legs. How level is your brick floor? Are they going to sit level? Or are you going to put some little pads under the corners to lift up the large slabs of the legs?

Corey Hallagan
09-04-2006, 12:55 AM
Very cool Jim! That's what you call making the best of your limited shop time. Can't wait to see it finished!

Corey

John Michaels
09-04-2006, 2:50 AM
That's very nice wood. I like the through tenon alot. Nice work.

Mike Cutler
09-04-2006, 10:16 AM
Nice work Jim, and thanks for the pics. I can't believe you got that all done in a day.

The walnut is pretty, be sure to post some pics pf the bench with the finish applied.

Keith Beck
09-04-2006, 10:40 AM
Jim,

Awesome work! I can't wait to see the finished product. I've got a few Walnut slabs too that I've been wondering what to do with, so you've given me an idea. Unfortunately, I don't think any of mine are as thick as what you've got, so they may not work.

Keith

Terry Hatfield
09-04-2006, 11:13 AM
Very cool Jim!!! I've never thought much about building a natural edge project but your bench makes me want to do one.

t

Karl Laustrup
09-04-2006, 11:36 AM
Verrrrry nice looking bench it will be Jim. Looking forward to seeing it finished and how the grain pops on the legs.

Karl

Jim Becker
09-04-2006, 11:49 AM
I'm concerned about the legs. How level is your brick floor? Are they going to sit level? Or are you going to put some little pads under the corners to lift up the large slabs of the legs?
There are soft pads on the four corners. If they don't provide enough "give", they will be replaced with levelers, although I'd like to avoid that if possible.

I just showed it to Dr SWMBO and she seems to like it... ;) ...although I need to find someplace to store the ugly blue plastic step stool that currently hangs out where this bench will be living...

lou sansone
09-04-2006, 12:20 PM
ahhh the king of woods... you just can't go wrong with black walnut. nice use of the lumber

lou

Don Baer
09-04-2006, 12:29 PM
Thats a real great use of free wood and it looks outstanding.

Jerry Olexa
09-04-2006, 1:50 PM
Nice work, Jim! Like the wood and love that through tenon...Looks good!!

Ian Barley
09-04-2006, 1:59 PM
There are soft pads on the four corners. If they don't provide enough "give", they will be replaced with levelers, although I'd like to avoid that if possible....

Very nice Jim - I am a big fan of "no plans" working. If the thing rocks about a bit don't forget that a tripod is more stable on uneven surface than a quadpod (??). If you end up putting anything on the bottom then consider having two contact points on one leg and just one on the other leg. That way it cannot wobble.

(p.s congrats on squeezing some shop time!!)

Jim Becker
09-04-2006, 2:55 PM
Ian, the majority of things I build for the brick floor are tripod based. That is an option here, but for this particular piece, it would be a last resort as it does affect stability of this particular shape and use.

Brett Baldwin
09-04-2006, 3:20 PM
That is going to be a great piece in your house. If you wanted to get tripod stability without changing your design much, couldn't you give the legs a gentle curve on the bottom. Have the wide leg concave and the short convex and you would get three contact points but keep the curve so shallow that it would be hard to notice without a flat surface. Just a thought if the flat legs don't work out.

Jim Becker
09-04-2006, 4:52 PM
Brett, that's an excellent suggestion. I'll have to look and see if I can make that work for this piece...'should be easy to mock up on the bench, as it were... :)

Jim Becker
09-05-2006, 11:36 AM
On Labor Day Monday, in-between various yard work activities, I did the final sanding and got the bench oiled. It now feels very "slinky"... :D So, the next steps are pretty much final finishing. A good shellac-ing and a few coats of USL on the top given the purpose and location of this piece. I may or may not get that done sometime this week...'depends on various work and home things.

46216

46217

lou sansone
09-05-2006, 1:40 PM
great crotch figure .... sure would look nice on a set of arched secretary doors ! Any plans to build one?
lou

Jim Becker
09-05-2006, 5:07 PM
great crotch figure .... sure would look nice on a set of arched secretary doors ! Any plans to build one?

Probably not, Lou. Not my style. But I do have two more walnut slabs "in inventory", so you never know what might come of them. I also have one really huge cherry slab that will likely become an, ummm....coffee table...for want of a better word...for the seating area in our great room. The carved rosewood Chinese tea table (brought from Hong Kong many years ago by Dr. SWMBO's parents) is taking too much of a beating with the girls and we need to put it in storage.

I really like Nakashima-eskq natural edge pieces and the seem to compliment my affection for Shaker style in the furniture I build when I actually get the time to do so. It's also easier to work on these things now that I'm all Festooled-up than when I acquired all my slabs, both off the property and thanks to Alan Turner and an estate sale he pointed me at a couple years ago.

Ian Barley
09-05-2006, 5:12 PM
Looking very nice Jim. I see by the three legged settle in the background that my "tripod" post was a bit of an egg sucking lesson.:)

Cliff Rohrabacher
09-05-2006, 8:05 PM
Nice little bench.



BTW, this is an example of a "no plans, no drawings" project. Pieces are laid out and fitted in situ and the design just evolves along the way. It's sometimes fun to work this way!

That is how I like to work most the time.

Chris Padilla
09-05-2006, 9:54 PM
Well, I'm not impressed unlike everyone else here. I think that natural edge will be a bit rough on the back of the legs of the sitter and, geez, the legs aren't even splayed in compound angle or even have an arch cut into them. You sure went the easy route here, Jim. Didn't even chamfer the legs with a hand plane, neither! Sorry...just a bit ho-hum...next, please.










;) Cute lil' bench...glad to see you got some shop time in...it is healthy for you! :D

Jim Becker
09-05-2006, 10:24 PM
Gee, Chris, you'd think I was a competitor or something... LOL!!! :D :D (Chris works for what my company considers the "evil empire" and I'm sure we get called a few bad words on their end, too...but woodworking brings everyone together quite nicely. Our ex-CEO is a woodworker. And now he has time to do it. ;) )

And hopefully, no one will be sitting on it all that much, but if you were to examine the edges, you'd find they have been "relieved' for back 'o the knees comfort.

John Miliunas
09-05-2006, 10:32 PM
Dang, that oil sure woke up the grain on that piece, didn't it? :) As to what Chris P. said, yeah, I also think that it's a bit "simple" by your standards, however, "simplicity" makes for some very nice pieces and that's no exception! :) On this one, you're simply allowing the beauty of the wood to add the complex features! Well done, Jim! :) :cool:

Mark Singer
09-06-2006, 1:01 AM
Jim,
Nice project! Simple construction details and excellent results! The wood seems to live through the piece....

Corey Hallagan
09-06-2006, 1:25 AM
Nice work Jim as always. Beautful walnut and the oil always makes walnut come alive!

Corey

Barry Stratton
09-06-2006, 2:41 AM
like it! Sweet and simple!

BTW, is that a FOR SALE sign on the CLEAN lathe????

Greg Narozniak
09-06-2006, 8:49 AM
Great looking Project Jim. Reminds me of a table a friend did with a huge slab of Pear he found at Williard Brothers a few years back.

Bob Childress
09-06-2006, 9:03 AM
Well Jim,

I love the natural edge and would now consider it for a project. As for ho-hum, sometimes simplicity lets the wood speak for itself and it does in this case.

But don't think we all didn't notice the tall stack of systainers in your first photo. I'm lime-green with envy. ;) :D

tod evans
09-06-2006, 9:10 AM
nice work jim!

Jim Becker
09-06-2006, 10:54 PM
BTW, is that a FOR SALE sign on the CLEAN lathe????

Nice try...no cigar. ;) I was spraying finish on Sunday, so the place got swept (into the floor sweep) and then vacuumed for the first time in oh, about six months...including the lathe .:eek: But I can "fix" the "clean" problem very quickly the next time I get to work in the shop. :p

Jim Becker
09-06-2006, 10:58 PM
Great looking Project Jim. Reminds me of a table a friend did with a huge slab of Pear he found at Williard Brothers a few years back.

Hmm...I haven't been there in a long while. But I have a few very nice 5/4 by 13" wide cherry boards I bought from them in the rack...the price was right during one of their October "inventory" sales! I used to buy most of my lumber from them, but once I discovered Simmie in Lambertville, I don't head down to Willard that often. But you know, when I think about it, the tiger maple board I used for the candle stand I just finished may have come from there, too...or from Hearne. I don't remember!

Greg Narozniak
09-07-2006, 9:21 AM
Hmm...I haven't been there in a long while. But I have a few very nice 5/4 by 13" wide cherry boards I bought from them in the rack...the price was right during one of their October "inventory" sales! I used to buy most of my lumber from them, but once I discovered Simmie in Lambertville, I don't head down to Willard that often. But you know, when I think about it, the tiger maple board I used for the candle stand I just finished may have come from there, too...or from Hearne. I don't remember!

Never been to Simmie, actually I have never heard of it. I saw in one of your previous posts that an appointment will be needed. Next time I head to a friend's house in New Hope I will have to try and check it out. Might be a chance for a visit to Casa de Becker as well :)

Dave Shively
09-07-2006, 9:53 AM
Jim,
For a "no plans, no drawings" project, I think it is and will turn out fantastic.
Seeing how it was "junk" wood anyway.:D

Dave

Jim Becker
09-07-2006, 10:46 AM
Greg, you really should get a visit with Simmie some Saturday morning. Schedule permitting, I'd be happy to meet you there, although that would force me to make a stop at the ATM on the way... ;) (He's cash only and I just can't go there without bringing something home, if you know what I mean...

And yes, a 'Creeker visit is a nice idea should "the addition" ever let you have some free time. :)


Seeing how it was "junk" wood anyway.

Indeed. One man's junk is sometimes another's pot of gold...

Mark Cothren
09-07-2006, 10:58 AM
What a beautiful bench, Jim! It may be a simple design, but it looks great!

Jim Becker
11-12-2006, 8:59 PM
I finally "finished the finish" on this project last weekend and put the bench in service during the week...strangely enough on our anniversary. So maybe I need to call it the anniversary bench, but that might be silly...:rolleyes:

At any rate, the deed is done. The finish is BLO, several applications of shellac over the whole piece and a number of coats of Target Coatings gloss USL on the top. Given it's intended purpose will likely result in wet clothing coming into contact with the top as boots are removed, etc., the acrylic top coat made sense.

Here are the final pictures:

49997

49998

John Miliunas
11-12-2006, 9:16 PM
Hey, that came out right nice, Jim! That is a wonderful looking chunk o' Walnut, too. Looks to be right at home there. Nice job, Mr. Becker! :) :cool:

Matt Meiser
11-12-2006, 9:22 PM
Very cool bench. Looks great against the background of its new home.

Roy Wall
11-12-2006, 9:40 PM
always good to get a project done........no matter the time frame.

Looks great and in a perfect location too!

Jason Tuinstra
11-12-2006, 9:52 PM
Jim, very nice! The walnut looks silky smooth and is certainly easy on the eyes. Nice job all the way around.

Ted Calver
11-13-2006, 12:20 AM
Great piece Jim! That finish gives it a really rich looking color.

Jerry Olexa
11-13-2006, 1:02 AM
nice looking jim!!! that'll look good in your home....

Zahid Naqvi
11-13-2006, 2:59 AM
Great job, goes really well with the brick floor.

Neil Lamens
11-13-2006, 7:37 AM
Hey Jim:

Bench came out nice!!! Whatelse you got coming out of the "gifted" stack and rolling around in between posts!!

Nicely done!!!

Art Mulder
11-13-2006, 7:46 AM
Nice throne, next to the the, -uh- other throne... :rolleyes:

Hans Braul
11-13-2006, 8:13 AM
Jim, what a great piece! I wish my neighbours had junk like that to get rid of! I love the way the wood seems alive. Works very well with the surroundings, and it will serve well as a tough, useful piece.

Thanks for sharing the pics
Hans

John Renzetti
11-13-2006, 9:29 AM
Hi Jim, I somehow missed the first part of the thread back in September.
Nice job on the bench.
talk to you later,
John

Jim Becker
11-13-2006, 9:45 AM
Thanks, folks. I really enjoy making these natural edge pieces. They have a lot of character. Ed, who gave me the piece I used for the top of this bench had his "opening" at the America Designs (http://americadesigns.com/) gallery in Lambertville NJ on Saturday. His show, entitled "Sticks and Stones" is great. He's an outstanding cabinetmaker by day and his introspective sculpture is wonderful. His wife is also a talented artist. (This is the fellow who commissioned me to make the gavel for awhile back that went to someone associated with Rago Auctions.)

At any rate, the slab from Ed combined with portions of a slab off my property made for a very nice addition to our home. And now on to other projects on "the list"...

Greg Salata
11-14-2006, 9:15 PM
Totally cool bench.
I like the natural edges:) and how can you go wrong with beautiful walnut like that:confused: