Benches for First Day School

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Project by SteveL posted 05-29-2015 03:16 AM 2110 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

These benches are made to accommodate two children each, and are 16” high, same as the antique miniature windsor chairs they have in the First Day (Sunday) School room at our Quaker Meetinghouse. A contractor was replacing some rotted sills on the circa 1701 building and had a 12’ length of white oak left over, 10” wide, which he gave to me, saying it was the hardest wood he had ever worked with.

I will admit it was actually a bit harder than any other white oak I had worked with too, requiring me to resharpen my chisels for each dovetail I cut. The benches were designed with rough and tumble tots in mind. The sides are dovetailed into the seat, and the stretcher has a wedged, through-tenon on each end. To avoid splits running up the mousehole-to-mortise line on the sides, I’ve inlaid a 1/4” thick, 3” oak bow-tie on the inside face of each side. The seat edges are relieved with a 1/4” chamfer, front and back. Finish consists of two washes with Van Dyke crystals dissolved in water, followed by boiled linseed oil, then a coat of Bartley’s “Golden Oak” gel stain, wiped out after 15 minutes or so. Finally, there are 5 coats of 1/2 lb cut amber shellac, followed by 3 coats of Minwax wipe-on polyurethane. Should stay shiny for a few years anyway.

-- SteveL

3 comments so far

View JohnnyB's profile


106 posts in 3842 days

#1 posted 05-29-2015 04:21 AM

Nice benches. The words “first day school” caught my eye, and I want to say hello from another Quaker woodworker.

-- JohnnyB - - Sometimes determination can substitute for skill.

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3880 days

#2 posted 05-29-2015 06:20 AM

I really like your benches, next time post more photos please.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View C_PLUS_Woodworker's profile


602 posts in 4360 days

#3 posted 05-29-2015 10:23 AM


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