Shaker Bench for Charity 2011 #3: Shaker Bench Completed In Time (Just Barely!)

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Blog entry by Todd A. Clippinger posted 03-07-2011 02:28 AM 7137 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: The Deadline Draws Near... Part 3 of Shaker Bench for Charity 2011 series Part 4: Video Wrap-up of the Shaker Bench for Charity with Brian Havens »


That was a close one! Brian Havens and I worked on the Shaker Bench for Charity right up to the last minute.

The social mixer and appetizers started at 6:00p.m. This was when the items went on view for both the silent and live auction.

I was spraying the final coat of lacquer on the drawers at 5:50p.m. while Brian showered and changed. Then I showered and changed while Brian and my wife Rita loaded the bench in the vehicle.

By the time I got dressed, the bench was already loaded and then Brian and I did the final buff on the drawers. Fortunately we did not have far to drive and we arrived at the fundraising event at 6:20. I think this falls in the category of “fashionably late.”

Since there had been an article in the Billings Gazette that morning, there was a lot of interest and anticipation for this piece to be in the auction. When we arrived there were several comments on the bench and some greetings to Brian for visiting Montana to help me out.

We visited with several people and talked about the bench as there were a lot of people interested in hearing what it was made of and the features of the construction.

The director of COR Enterprises made a point to bring the mayor over and introduce Brian and I as “the craftsmen who made the bench.” He pointed out that Brian was the one who flew out and it was obvious he was already familiar with the story and was happy to meet us.


We were quite hungry and ready for dinner since we did not stop to eat lunch with running so tight on the deadline. Since we donated the bench and my wife made a donation from her restaurant we did not have to pay for the tickets. Joy!

When the bench came up on the live auction I got up and gave a few words on how Brian flew out from California to be greeted with -3° and long hours of work. I talked a little about our personal commitment (Rita & I) to supporting COR Enterprises and why we do it.


Then the bidding started and it was exciting to see the numbers go higher and higher. In the end, the bench brought in $1,000 and that turned out to be the most money that any item brought in for the night. Rita also brought in $160 with the certificate from her restaurant.

I could not have completed the bench without the help of Brian Havens and the time that local LJ member MTBrian gave on Thursday evening. I truly appreciate the help that I had from these 2 guys and it was an incredible feeling to have 2 other woodworkers sharing space and work in my shop.

Before MTBrian left we all signed the bench. We all had a hand in it and it was only right that all the names be sealed under the finish. We signed it as a “Collaborative Effort By American Craftsmen.”

Signatures of Craftsmen

I also am grateful to the support that Rita gave us by keeping us fed and in coffee.

I also have to give a public thanks to Brian Havens’ family (both the wife and kids) for giving him up for a few days. They are a solid family and I began to feel a bit selfish for calling him away from his family to pull my butt out of the fire.

I did reward Brian with long hours of work, bad espresso (when I made it,) a lumpy couch for resting his tired body, and extremely cold weather (well, I could not help that last one.)

Before Brian left for home we gave him a whirlwind tour of the Billings area. It was foggy out the day he left so we could not see the several mountain ranges visible from Billings. But there was a beautiful thick frost on everything. We took several pictures at one of the city parks on top of the sandstone cliffs locally known as the “rims.”

A frosty morning at Zimmerman Park

My biggest regret, but an unavoidable circumstance, was that we did not have more down time to just visit outside the shop. For 3 days the only part of Montana that Brian saw was the inside of my shop. But now I am already trying to figure out when I might be able to head his direction.

It certainly was a great experience. I always had faith in Brian on every task that I set him on. I have worked with enough other guys in the trades that I know how valuable it is to have someone that needs little oversight or hand-holding. Brian quickly adapted to my shop layout and all I had to do was point him in the direction we needed to go and he more than carried his own weight. It was awesome…just AWESOME to work along side of him on this project:)

Thanks Brian and thanks to everyone that followed along on Twitter and FB cheering us on as we reached the finish line. It is encouraging to know that there are people all over the country and the world pulling for you on a project like this. It is one of the things that I love about the internet, it can bring people together for a greater good.

Peace, Love, & Woodworking

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

20 comments so far

View blackcherry's profile


3339 posts in 4209 days

#1 posted 03-07-2011 02:52 AM

Nice work guys, with the best part going toward charity everyone a winner in my book. The Shaker bench is a timeless beauty and you guys did this one proud. Sister Ann a Shaker founder coin the phrase “Hearts to God and Hands to Work” exemplify the spirit of your project thanks for sharing your work and inspiration…Wilson

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3369 days

#2 posted 03-07-2011 02:52 AM

The bench looks great. Glad you guys had a great time together and a wonderful memory to add to the list.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4059 days

#3 posted 03-07-2011 03:10 AM

Nice looking bench for a good cause.

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 3226 days

#4 posted 03-07-2011 03:22 AM

I do love this design. I have seen your video on this bench. You have place a lot of thought into use. Great job guys.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3689 days

#5 posted 03-07-2011 03:22 AM

i just love this whole project todd and brian and mt…you guys were awesome in doing this and the bench is just beautiful…wonderful job, i love walnut , i give you a round of applause for this …grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3689 days

#6 posted 03-07-2011 03:26 AM

oh i wanted to ask you todd what wood you used for the hole plugs…out south here we have dogwood and its a very hard and dense wood and it stays bright white…its a very good contrasting wood for whenever you need to use a white wood…maybe you used maple…but i just wondered…thanks…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Roger's profile


21006 posts in 3190 days

#7 posted 03-07-2011 03:31 AM

very nice. well done

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4485 days

#8 posted 03-07-2011 03:33 AM

Thanks for all the kind comments guys.

Grizzman-I just used maple plugs.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Karson's profile


35188 posts in 4786 days

#9 posted 03-07-2011 04:24 AM


A great project with your effort and the effort of others.

Tp a great cause and a wonderful presentation.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View gbear's profile


522 posts in 4485 days

#10 posted 03-07-2011 06:25 AM

Great job Todd, Brian & MTBrian. The bench turned out beautiful as did your efforts for the charity…this is what life is all about. Much praise to all of you…including Rita!

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 4123 days

#11 posted 03-07-2011 07:11 AM

Very nice to see a project come through with such good success. It is obvious you all put your hearts and souls in this bench and the sale will really help where it counts the most!!

Congrats !!!!!!!

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Charles Maxwell's profile

Charles Maxwell

1099 posts in 4193 days

#12 posted 03-07-2011 04:24 PM

Nice work Todd and all. Thanks for posting. keep chargin!

-- Max the "night janitor" at

View Fireball's profile


71 posts in 4453 days

#13 posted 03-07-2011 04:42 PM

Good for you guys! Very nice to read the story and follow along. Glad things came out well and keep up the good work. (is there a thumbs up! button somewhere?)

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 3462 days

#14 posted 03-07-2011 08:31 PM

So very cool! I really enjoyed keeping up to date with this race to the finish over on Twitter. I been keeping up with it like a favorite team in a big sports event. Outstanding work and a huge pat on the back goes to all of yall involved.

Very… very cool!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Grumpy's profile


25296 posts in 4237 days

#15 posted 03-07-2011 11:52 PM

Great work lads.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

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