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 Oatmeal – Eight 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.