Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meditation Bench

This project is a meditation bench for my friend Jameela, its so a person can maintain a comfortable posture during extended mediation. I had no plan for this but I wanted an oriental feel so I added a cross stretcher with a slight arch and mitered ends at 10 degrees. After doing some research on the Internet I found that the seat should be angled at 10 degrees and the front of the bench should be between 6-7 inches. I had a nice curly maple board that was just long enough to get the seat and both legs out of in my stash. I cut the legs with a 80 degree angle on the top with the front 6 1/2 inches tall. I laid out for two through tenons in each leg and a notch for the mahogany cross stretcher. I cut a bevel on the top of the cross stretcher and cut notches to mate with legs.

I fit the cross stretcher in the legs and tried to visualize the best arch for the bench, I decided to start the arch on the outside of the miter and run it all the way across the stretcher.

I used an adjustable bow to lay out a pleasing looking arch and traced it, I cut it with the bandsaw and cleaned it up with a flexible sanding block.

The arched cross stretcher in place. I was very happy with the results. Now the hard part starts.

I didn't get any pictures of the process but I laid out the mortises using the tenons. I drilled out the waste and cleaned them up with some sharp chisels. Curly maple is a form of hard maple and its very difficult to cut and pare but if you take your time and are careful you can get good results. I eased the edges of the maple with an 1/8th inch round over bit but left the mahogany edges square.

I trimmed the tenons with a flushcut saw and cleaned them up with a block plane. I finished the top with a card scraper. I finished the piece with several coats of natural Danish oil and two coats of satin carnuba wax. I'll let the next few pictures speak for themselves.

Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little. - Buddha


Shannon said...

Great looking bench and it looks to be a very comfortable design. As I was reading through this I was wondering why you didn't put wedges in the through tenons for extra strenght and ornamentation. Maybe I have read too many A&C design books with wedged tenons. However the final few pictures really illustrate the simplicity of the design which is some typical of Asian influenced stuff. I'm glad you didn't go that way as it may have detracted from the "mediatative" effect. Great work!

Brad Ferguson said...

At first I thought about using wedged tenons but to be honest the maple is just so hard that it gets kind of brittle, I think i may have split it trying that plus it was complicated enough with the mortises being angled anyway. The next one I make I'm going to use miller dowels to attach the top and cut the build time in half.

Captain Skully said...

Wedging tenons can also be used to tighten sloppy mortises. Choosing not to wedge yours only showcases your joinery. Ironically, Japanese joinery was very influential at the beginning of the Arts & Crafts movement. Nice bench!

Will said...

Nice bench. In Zen these are called seiza benches. One problem though. While the cross stretcher adds strength and a wonderful design element, it will block the sitters legs. This type of bench is used with your calves slipped under the bench and your knees directly in front of you. Here is a link to a picture showing the seiza sitting position.

Brad Ferguson said...

Thanks Will,
I've learned that since the post from a few people. She was looking for something to help with her posture and knees in the lotus position, she's very tall and it bother's her knees to sit like that for extended periods.