First Butterfly Repair

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Project by Jeremy posted 01-12-2017 05:02 PM 1461 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was nerve racking and definitely a learning experience. I just recently completed this Cedar Live Edge bench for the wife. The cedar was showing 11-12% moisture before i started build the bench. My assumption was that it was stable and wouldn’t move/check very much. Well… needless to say “assuming” and the age old adage that goes along with it stood true on this project.

After about a month the checks on the end started to be rather apparent. Pushing almost 1/4” wide and traveling completely throw the thickness of the bench. Initial thoughts went to gluing/clamping/screws on the bottom repair. To be honest I didn’t like that idea, too modern for the feel I was trying to keep. The wife on the other hand… didn’t even notice the checks and was blissfully happy showing it off. Not wanting to let the checks grow any further I decided I would try my hands at a butterfly/dutchman/bow-tie repair. Never having done one before, I called my Gran-Pap (89 years old and wood works DAILY) for some insight… which was short and sweet. “It ain’t hard, just get after it… slowly.” Gotta love pap!

So I moved the bench into the shop while the wife was at work. Proceeded to make a few butterfly joints which I was very happy with myself. Setup the bench, laid out the lines for where I wanted the joints, then started to remove wood. That first hit with the hammer/chisel seemed to be in slow motion. No going back from here. About 30 minutes into removal, the wife comes home… And then the fireworks go off when she notices the bench and wood chips and chisel!!! After catching an “earful” for not letting well enough alone, drilling up her bench, and finally it better be just as beautiful as before of she would “beat me over the head with the bench” she stormed off into he house. I spent another 10 minutes working on the first joint (40 minutes total). The second one went much quicker only took me about 20 minutes. I completed the test fit and glued them up. The house was quite cold that night and the overall mood was skepticism about the “fix” I decided to do without he “BOSS’s” permission!!

The next day after work, I went strait to work on the finishing work. Sanding the joints down, then proceeding to re-sand the entire bench top. Then came applying the Wipe-On Poly (Home Mix 50:50), and boy oh boy did the Black walnut come out pretty! The “BOSS’s” came home and immediately came out to see the progress. She was very happy and even said “I like it better with the pretty bow ties!” BOOM!!!! Back on the good side. The pic are from the bench drying after a coat of wipe on poly, so please excuse the extra shine.

Overall, I really like the finish and character the bow ties add to bench. The overall process is simple enough by hand, and I’m glad I went this route. The small detail irregularities match the feel of the bench. As always I look forward to comments/recommendation/criticism. I love Lumberjocks and am thankful for a place to show my work and view other’s beautiful creations as well! Keep up the great work all!

-- I enjoy getting "lost"... the only outcome is "finding" yourself.

8 comments so far

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1985 days

#1 posted 01-12-2017 05:15 PM

Good job!

View brian67's profile


8 posts in 1923 days

#2 posted 01-12-2017 06:29 PM

That was a bold move making the fix without pre-approval but the end result looks great!

-- -Brian

View ralbuck's profile


6795 posts in 3604 days

#3 posted 01-12-2017 06:32 PM

Good story + good work + good result.

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View LesB's profile


3245 posts in 4780 days

#4 posted 01-12-2017 06:33 PM

Good save.
Also you are not restricted to the “bow tie” design. I have used figure 8 patterns (call them mouse ears?) which eliminates the sharp corners of the bow tie, although you could round them off.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Ivan's profile


17139 posts in 4205 days

#5 posted 01-12-2017 07:32 PM

Nice work, I like this red wood colour.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Raymond Thomas's profile

Raymond Thomas

189 posts in 3556 days

#6 posted 01-12-2017 09:25 PM

Great job! Love the contrast / compliment of the walnut-cedar.

-- Raymond, Charlotte, NC -------- Demonstrate the difference!

View pintodeluxe's profile


6519 posts in 4151 days

#7 posted 01-13-2017 02:04 AM

Looks great, you did a fine job. Hand work is fun and rewarding.

If you ever want to try your hand at router inlays, Whiteside makes a nice inlay bit / bushing kit.
You use the same template for cutting the recess and the part to be inlaid. It works great on simple geometric shapes.

Thanks for posting.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View pottz's profile


22380 posts in 2322 days

#8 posted 01-13-2017 04:12 PM

great job and bold on your part but it looked like a save was needed,those cracks could have gotten worse without help.overall it looks beautiful.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

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