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Luke’s Bench

John LedbetterDriftwood, TXAdded on August 26, 2015

This project was a way of moving forward for my wife and I after our sweet seven-month old passed away in January. I wanted/needed some way to honor him and designing and building a bench to take the place of his crib made sense.

It’s made from walnut. I used the Domino XL for all of the joints in the base. I REALLY enjoy using that tool. I am certain I couldn’t have made this any other way. The unique leg on the bench is a reference to our boy’s clubbed right leg. It was the first evidence to my wife and I of his genetic condition and it will always remind us of him. I was able to cut the shape with my track saw (TS75) using the plunge feature to start and stop my cuts. I took the time to make a prototype out of plywood to practice which was extremely helpful.

I beveled the ends of the top with my track saw as well, but given its thickness I was only able to cut about 95% through. I used a flush trim saw for the rest and it came out great. As a second special feature, on the underside I made a shallow cavity to hold our boy’s ashes and we sealed it with a simple cover made from some of the lighter-colored walnut we had ordered.

I prepared the piece for finishing with a my sander (a Rotex 125, which I confess is still a bit hard for me to control even in random orbit mode) and scrapers. Since I was on a roll with the Festool system, I decided on the Surfix oil-wax finish. I love how the piece feels to the touch.

The Wood Talk crew was kind enough to help me out when they offered their advice on attaching the top to the base (the “Freaky Teaky Crud” episode). It occurred to me during my dry fit that I could attach the top using the method Marc used in his trestle table project so I wound up using oversized countersunk screw holes through the existing support pieces. I’m honored and grateful that the Wood Talk guys took the time to discuss my question (THANK YOU!). The design of the base is largely inspired by the work of Jory Brigham of Festool/Framework fame. I don’t mind saying that one bit. I didn’t add radiuses to the inside-angles or round-overs like many of his pieces, but I owe a lot to his influence.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the result. Our other son who is 3 years old loves to sit on it. Despite his age he understands that this piece is special. I’m not a particularly skilled or experienced woodworker, but I really feel like I was able to make something that is meaningful, beautiful, and lasting.