12 July 2011


Technically, I'm no longer a member of a guild at WMRF, in the parlance of this particular faire, I'm an  independent player. However; I still retain close ties with the guild I helped create, Hearth of Saint Brigid, and when they need set pieces or camp furniture, I'm always happy to help out.

For myriad reasons, this year they were facing the unpleasant choice of either bringing modern chairs and trying to disguise them or sitting on the ground. As an alternative, I offered to make them a pair of long benches and to take apart a table they already had to make it usable as a dining table. In the end, we decided the old table was far too heavy to do anything with (the previous carpenter was a bit too enthusiastic about heavy materials) and that two 8-foot benches would be less useful than four 4-foot benches.

There are a number of period images depicting people sitting on simple "five board benches" and the inestimable Karen Larsdatter has cataloged most of them (at least the ones available on the internet).  I had my pick of designs to choose from.

Five board benches are a standard of basic carpentry, so I was confident that they would knock together fairly quickly.

Since these would see heavy use and be used primarily outside, it was requested that I make them sturdy, so rather than the more typical 1X lumber, I chose to make them out of 2X stud lumber. This meant a bit more work to shape them, but the end result is a very sturdy piece of camp furniture that will weather any storm or any butt that comes along.

These are doweled together with hardwood dowels and once the trestles are complete, they will be stained a dark brown to make them look a bit more appropriate to the setting.  The tabletop will be given a matte polyurethane finish since it will be an eating and food-prep surface and the rest will be sealed with an eye toward minimizing shine.

This has been fun for me, if for no other reason than the fact that I've never tried to make a matched set of anything before. At least not out of wood. As is the case when trying to throw a set of mugs or goblets, getting them all to match without making them so plain as to be forgettable is the challenge here.

More pics when I have them stained and paired up with the new table.

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