Antique church pew--restoration & repurpose

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Project by JayT posted 07-06-2013 10:53 PM 9352 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After the remodel of the kitchen last year, SWMBO decided that a new dining set was in order. In the course of many discussions, she came up with the idea of using an old church pew as wall seating. I found a corner pew on Craigslist that looked like it would work for a reasonable price, so took a road trip to pick it up. Pic 2 is from the listing. Unfortunately once we got it in the kitchen, it just didn’t fit right in the space, so I proceeded to do some rework.

The pew was completely disassembled—it was coming apart and various previous owners had tried to repair it, more on that later. Two new ends were built out of clear Doug Fir (Pic 3, it was the only clear softwood I could find locally, the rest of the pew I believe is SYP). The new ends were made using the originals as a pattern but with a lower armrest to allow easier access once a table was in place. The various pieces were patched, repaired and reassembled. The assorted dents, dings and other “character marks” that didn’t affect use were kept as part of the history of the over 100 year old piece, see Pic 4. And if you look close in the bottom right of that pic, you can see the previous patch of a leg.

The original wood was so dry and light that I was afraid of how it was going to hold up. Multiple coats of BLO were applied and allowed to soak in—the wood was very thirsty!! It resulted in a wonderful deep reddish gold color. The new doug fir sides were then stained to come close to the same tones. There is no way to match the age, but I just wanted to make the pieces look like they belonged together. In the same vein, I didn’t try to replicate the trinity symbols—my goal was to have the new pieces work with and compliment the old, not try to make it look all original.

Final finish was a spar based wipe-on poly, both to protect the wood in a kitchen environment and help prevent the finish from changing color too much due to UV—the windows are west facing and pull in a LOT of sunlight in the afternoons.

Thanks for looking and hope you enjoy.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

6 comments so far

View JayT's profile


6362 posts in 2820 days

#1 posted 07-06-2013 11:00 PM

I wanted to add more pics of the previous “repairs”. For some reason, when the glue joints on the pew were coming loose, at least one person thought that adding a few nails to hold the side to the seat would help.

While someone else decided that some pan head sheet metal screws would be appropriate for holding the back to the side.

And this is the blowout that happens when you use a 16d framing nail on very old, dry pine.

This one had to be patched to have good glue surfaces, so a section was routed out and a piece of 100 year old barnwood was cut to fit and hand planed flat.

Lots of adventures fixing previous repairs, but the wife is happy with the result and that is all that matters.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View ShaneA's profile


7084 posts in 3207 days

#2 posted 07-06-2013 11:25 PM

Good stuff. Amazing what can be done with some skill and patience.

View JayT's profile


6362 posts in 2820 days

#3 posted 07-07-2013 02:45 AM

Skill and patience? Not sure who you are talking about, ‘cuz I have neither. Oh well, thanks, Shane.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View jimmyb's profile


186 posts in 2501 days

#4 posted 07-07-2013 03:06 PM

Very nice job.

Just watched an episode of Black Dawg Salvaged and they commented that they can sell short (small) pews all day long at their store but not the long pews. They were going to try and cut the long ones down.

Now I see why :)

-- Jim, Tinley Park, IL

View lysdexic's profile


5291 posts in 3232 days

#5 posted 07-08-2013 02:23 AM

Great idea.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View Mauricio's profile


7163 posts in 3760 days

#6 posted 07-09-2013 04:54 PM

They turned out nice and you did prety good on he patch!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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