Goal: A bench to sit on; to replace an unsafe, falling apart and badly rusted garden swing.

You cannot tell creativity,

“I would like ten of those, please.”

The OatmealEight marvelous and melancholy things I’ve learned about creativity

This is a chronicle of my somewhat creative (though arguably more on the engineering than artistic side) journey repurposing some 290x45mm KD mixed hardwood from the local timber yard, which I had around from a previously abandoned project.

This took place on and off over the last eight weeks.

To cut the shorter plank in half for the bench legs, I used the 210mm Ozito Compound Mitre Saw I’ve been using for nearly a decade now.

I flipped the piece to be cut in half a few times, and made 4 cuts which got close, but was still joined.

So I decided to go with a hand saw for that last little bit in the middle …

… what I have just learned appears to be an astroid.

(I originally thought about “inverting” the sides of a Reuleaux square for lack of a better definition – it’s not a quadrilateral because the 4 sides are a round shape).

That’s starting to look like it could become a bench!

Next challenge – joining wood. I chose dowels.

But as I suspected from my Year 7-10 woodworking …

… too many dowels is a bad idea!

This ultimately required a little improvising to plug the extra holes,

and chiselling off the excess dowel, after binding the dowels and plank with a cross-linking PVA glue, wiping away excess glue with a sponge, and letting it dry.

“… you have to build the machine that makes the machine …”

Elon Musk – Inside Elon Musk’s plan to build one Starship a week—and settle Mars

Drilling holes for the crossbeam turned out far more complicated.

As my existing dowel jig (I could probably get a better one at some point) was definitely not wide enough, I used multiple clamps and some spare wood to rig up something for it to hold on to.

This actually worked out quite well.

Looking through the hole to the destination, I actually drilled the first side dead-on target.

However, I think I properly re-learnt my lesson about dowels here (glad I didn’t try 6), even 4 points and a slight bow in the cross piece meant that the ideal spot didn’t quite line up with the actual.

To keep the main 3 planks square, I worked with the slight bow in the crosspiece as indicated by being off target center when I used a pencil to draw around and thus mark the dowel’s destination.

To test final assembly, I didn’t have a 1.2m long (or longer) clamp and they’re not cheap, so I used two short clamps to clamp two 1m long clamps together.

Sanding always takes time, especially as I do it by hand. If memory serves, 2-3 days of time.

I could probably get an orbital or belt sander, but at this stage of my life (jobless & car-less, though that may change soon, and definitely not yet home-owning) I actually kind of like keeping things as cheap (or efficient) as reasonably possible – and a ~$1 sheet of sandpaper that gets 4 usable squares is far cheaper than acquiring more power tools.

Oiling (or painting) is pretty standard – lay out a lot of newspaper to catch any excess flicks and drips.

What you can’t see here is more spare wood underneath the oiled pieces, so they don’t stick to the newspaper.

I also used a wood putty I had on hand to fill most of the holes – the exception being the very large knot. I might need to fill that in at some point as it holds water until it dries out, though I will see how it goes for now.

Though I did end up buying the last two 900mm clamps that were on special for $20 each with a small amount of cosmetic surface rust – they’re a lot less rusted than the two I inherited from my Dad.

It worked out, as I needed them to hold the long pieces together until the cross-linking PVA glue took hold.

Final mass: 27kg.

Final dimensions: 1200 mm long, 530mm high and 290mm deep.

Thank you for reading, I hope you learned something.

P.S. The crossbeam off-cut turned into something a little more creative and sparked a stack of other things I mig.

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