By Michael Swiderski, Ph. D.More in Blog Cabin
To duplicate the Blog Cabin 2011 reclaimed entry hall bench, where does one locate old wall studs (true-cut 2” x 4”), an antique headboard and old country farmhouse stair-rail balusters?
To locate true-cut wall studs from a home built during or prior to the 1950s, ask around. A local contractor, building supply vendor or county building official may be able to direct you to a home renovation site nearby. The idea is to collect the old “burn pile” wood before it is torched or thrown away. Putting an ad in the local paper may prove fruitful as well.
The search for a vintage headboard and old country stair-rail balusters may include, but is not limited to, architectural salvage suppliers, old country antiques shops and sites like craigslist. Used headboards range in price from $75 to more than $250. Stair-rail balusters are often sold in sets, with a price range of $2 to $10 per baluster. See the shopping list above to help gather the remaining building supplies.
Determine bench width using the headboard posts as the guide. Measure the headboard from the inside of one post to the inside of the other post. Transfer this post-to-post dimension and cut a 2” x 4” to this width using the miter saw.
Using a table saw, set the rip guide to rip the 2” x 4” exactly in half. These two pieces of 2” x 2” create the front and back of the bench seat perimeter band. Rip another short length of 2” x 4” exactly in half (about 12” - 14” in length). These two pieces will be cut to the exact length to create the two side bench seat perimeter bands.
Safety Tip: When using cutting or drilling tools always wear safety glasses. When ripping wood on a table saw, use a “push stick” to keep hands away from the cutting blade.
Carefully measure the exact width of the remaining true-cut 2” x 4” (it should be very close to 4”). Double this dimension (approximately 8”), then cut the two 2” x 2” pieces to this measurement. Lay out all four pieces onto a level workbench. These four pieces will frame the bench seat perimeter band. Clamp the perimeter band together to form a rectangular frame for the seat.
Builder's Tip: Use a speed square in the inside corners to confirm a perfect 90 degrees for the rectangular bench seat perimeter band.
Now prepare all four perimeter band pieces to be screwed together using a pocket hole jig. Note: Pre-drill the holes on the bottom sides of the bench seat so as not to be seen from the top.
With the side perimeter band holes drilled, lay out the pieces and clamp them in place. Screw the pieces together to make the perimeter band.
Measure the inside width dimension of the seat. Cut two lengths of true-cut 2” x 4” to this dimension and insert them into the frame to dry-fit the bench seat. Clamp the inside bench pieces together. The bench should fit snugly with the seams and joints “tight.” Notice any gaps once the seat is clamped together? If so, minor trim cuts may be made to tighten up the gaps and joints.
Once the seat is confirmed to be “tight,” prepare to screw the seat pieces into the perimeter band by removing the clamps and the two 2” x 4” seat pieces. Place the seat wood into the jig and pre-drill 6 to 8 pilot holes in each piece to secure it to the perimeter band. Remember to set up the pocket hole jig and wood to pre-drill the pilot holes on the underneath side of the seat.
Lay out the perimeter band and seat pieces onto the level workbench and clamp the seat pieces to the perimeter band again. Screw the seat pieces and perimeter band together. The bench seat is now ready to attach to the headboard.
Test-fit and clamp the bench seat to the headboard, in between the two headboard posts. The dry-fitted bench seat should fit perfectly between the posts since the width of the seat was built to this dimension. It will be obvious, but remember to place the drill holes underneath.
Builder's Tip: Bench height may be dictated by the headboard posts, which will become the back legs of the entry hall bench. If you have a choice in seat height, conduct a “sit height test” for bench users. Employ a nearby chair, couch or other furnishing to test the comfort of seat height.
Pre-drill 6 to 8 pilot holes in the headboard to connect the bench. It will be obvious, but remember to pre-drill from the back side of the headboard. Pre-drill deep enough to accommodate 3” wood screws. Screw the bench seat to the headboard. The attached bench seat is now ready for some legs.