Jim’s Blacker House Entry Bench

Sometimes our brains get wrapped around a problem, and we think we know what we need to solve it. A typical situation is a subtle angle, and a typical response is a desire to define it numerically:

Purchased the two page Blacker Greene Hall Bench Plan. My first effort making something from just drawings. . . Cannot figure out if the back is supposed to ’tilt’ back or is it perpendicular to the seat? If the slats are to be cut at an angle please let me know the degree… your help would be appreciated. Love the drawings. Jim

My answer:

The back tilts back at 1.1 degrees, but that number doesn’t do you much good. How are you going to set your saw to cut the joints, and how are you going to know if you have it right or not? I’d suggest you get one of these:

adjustable drafting triangle

You can use that on the section drawing to directly copy the angle from the drawing. I’d also suggest that you make a full-size copy of the section drawing on a piece of 1/4″ plywood or (something similar) and use that as a reference as you build. That way you can place the parts on the layout to get the correct sizes and angles. Hope this helps,

A couple of weeks later came a response saying “that was working great” and a question about attaching the arms. My answer led to an offer of home made raspberry jam, which I gratefully accepted. Then the other day came another e-mail with the attached photo. Here’s a portion of that message:

Thanks so very much for your help and excellent plans. No router…got to know the hand tools … wanted to burn the thing several times but alas my friends have an entry bench made of wood from their land. Cherry, curly maple (back and seats) cherry/ebony plugs. The bench is done…but the friendships made and nurtured from the project are cherished. jimmyj

I don’t know Jim beyond this brief correspondence, but that and the photo say a lot about him. He took on a challenge, succeeded admirably, and he’s the type of guy you want as a friend. Thanks to my new friend Jim for sharing-his work, his story, and the best raspberry jam I’ve had since my grandmother passed away.

–Bob Lang

Large Format Plans for the Blacker House Entry Bench are available in our store




Jim’s Blacker House Entry Bench — 8 Comments

  1. Jimmy has been a long time friend for over 30 years…and when he brought us this deacon bench that he made, using the wood from our own property, it brought tears to my eyes!!! IT IS JUST BEAUTIFUL!! I know it wasn’t easy, but can’t begin to thank him enough..or YOU, for creating this wonderful plan. It will be the talking piece in the front entry of our new home in Ensign, Michigan (near Rapid River, on top of Lake Michigan). God bless you all!!! In Jesus forever, LuAnn

  2. Pingback: Blacker House Entry Hall Bench | ReadWatchDo.com

  3. I recently received the plans for this bench & am working on a cut list as I study the drawings. I am a little confused by the rear attachment of the arms. Other than that the drawings are great! I like the carving detail, this will be my first project with any carving involved.
    Also, our entry is too small for the full bench, so I plan on narrowing it about 14″. It will not have the center 3 back slats and only one of the cutout back slats. I may try a pin hinge setup instead of the piano hinges.
    Thanks for providing these drawings!

  4. That joint is an interesting one, and I think the best way is to notch the leg to fit the end of the arm, and also cut a notch in the end of the arm, so that it sticks out a bit from the front of the leg. In the original, there are two plugs on the inside of the leg that likely cover screws that hold the arm to the leg.

    • I finished the bench awhile ago. I used maple with an antique amber dye & shellac finish. I actually reduced the overall width of the bench 14 5/16″, so I only have one of the cutout back slats. I did as you suggested at the joint where the rear of the arms meet the back leg, only I put screws through the back of the leg and plugged them. My back slats are angled back 4 deg. I used a block cut 4 deg to hold the back in my mortiser as well as the back of the seat frame to drill the mortises for the back slats. I angled my tenoning jig to cut the angled tenons on the box sides. Both of those operations were a first for me. I did not use a piano hing for the seats, but bought 2 pair of “hidden hinges” that were rather expensive, but worked quite well for this application. I wish I could attach a photo. Thanks again for developing these plans.