Two Pews – A Look Behind the Scenes – Part 2 of 2

For those who missed the first portion of this article, the link is here: Read Part 1 of This Series.

This is by no means a complete documentation of building the pews.  It is sufficient however, to give the reader an accurate idea of what processes are utilized in the construction of custom furniture.

Panel for pew arm being cut to shape

 Two pews required 4 panels to form the core of the arms.  To ensure proper fit, a jig is used to trim them to exact dimensions.  Note that the above operation requires specific steps to do safely.  I won’t get into the details on that now as it is outside of the scope of this article.

Gluing solid wood edging on arm panels

After cutting the wedge-shaped panels, solid oak boards are glued onto the two long edges.  Notice the wedges being used in conjunction with the clamps?  They are faced with sandpaper to prevent slipping.  Without them, it would be impossible to clamp angled surfaces like this.

Four pew arm blanks are veneered and stacked

After the edging was flushed to the surface, oak veneer was pressed onto both faces.  Pencil lines can be seen on the surface here.  This is the final shape that will be cut in the next step.

Arm blanks cut to final shape

All the arms were cut close to the pencil line on the bandsaw.  They will later be trimmed to exact dimensions using a template and a special template cutting bit on a router table.

Cutting joinery on arms

The arms need to have grooves on the bottoms to accept panels.  This setup is for left hand arms.  The right arms are done in a similar manner but require a few alterations to the process.

Mortises cut for joints between arms and legs

All the joinery is cut on the arms, feet and legs.  There’s a combination of floating tenon, dowel and tongue and groove joinery being used here.

Gluing up the arms, legs and feet to form end panels

Each assembly is complex enough to require over 15 minutes of time to spread glue and put together.  Epoxy with a long open time was the glue of choice for that reason.

Attaching edging to the front of the seat

The seats are 3/4″ thick solid oak.  That is plenty strong for the application considering it is supported underneath and attached to a tall back for added stiffness.  For appearance sake though, it needed to have a thicker front edge so an additional strip of oak was glued in place.  Round bullnosing will then be glued to the front of that.

Gluing up the backs

The backs were made from a combination of plywood and solid oak to achieve a combination of strength, stability and durability.

Pew assembled and ready for final sanding

Here the legs are in place and the last piece of wood is attached in the form of round trim on the top of the pew’s back.  There’s some cleanup, fitting and finishing work that needs to happen still but otherwise, this pew is complete.

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