How the Community Garden bench got made


Beginnings

The original idea for the bench was some sort of consensus brainwave at one or other of the gardening days in the spring of 2016.

By June of that year I was thinking of how it might be done so I made a scrap wood demonstrator of one section of the bench framework. At that stage I was thinking it would be hexagonal. Ultimately of course it turned out to be octagonal.

Views left and centre below show that early mock up. It stayed that way for quite a while.

Why eight sided?

I was just at the point of seriously designing the bench when a neighbour to the church confided he had a serious amount of old teak in his garage. I had a look and said we can use that on the garden bench and he said take it then. The teak is more than a hundred years old from a medical lab in a college in Leeds. It was used and stained but more than 30mm thick - and there were two car loads of it.

With that I knew we could afford more of the air dried oak needed to make the solid supports (see the picture on the right above) and use the teak for the stretchers and seat slats. So eight sided it was as that makes for a smoother fit to a circle.

The design in detail

So I designed it with computer aided design tools on my laptop plus some spreadsheet work to get the compound angle for the back rests sorted out. I used an angled backrest for the bench and it took a bit of trigonometry to get it exact as I used angled tenons for the joints. I purchased the air dried oak for the supports from Scawton Sawmills The guys there were good enough to rough cut the angled backrest on their shop bandsaw. Saved a lot of wear and tear on my hobbyist version.

Here's a 3D projection of my final design:

And some pictures of work in progress in my workshop.

The backrest inscriptions

I always had it in mind to carve some inspirational bible or hymn extracts on the backrests. One Sunday over coffee we asked the church to vote on a selection. This is what we chose:

  • If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Matthew11:28
  • Bless the Lord, O my soul, worship his holy name Song
  • Come near to God and he will come near to you James 4:8
  • May your roots go down deep into t he soil of God’s marvellous love Ephesians 3:17
  • Jesus is Lord, creation’s voice proclaims it Song
  • In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth Genesis 1:1
  • Be still and know that I am God Psalm 46:10

The backrest right behind the tree just has Acomb Methodist Church Community Garden 2016

The finished item

So here are some views of the final installation.