Putting the "log" back in Blog

1:5 Scale Model Bench Design Concepts

Posted on May 15th, by Andy Brownell in Design, Projects. No Comments


I admit, I’m a horrible sketch artist, particularly when it comes to furniture design concepts. And I’ve been lazy to actually take the time to learn Google Sketch-Up. Shame on me. However, I have recently begun working on some 1:12 scale mock-ups for a commissioned bench project. I tend to work well with design concepts when I can touch and feel it.


A collection of miniature bench parts and a little help from Jeff Miller’s book on chair making.

The overall idea is to go with something that matches the customer’s preference for chunky, slab pieces, but not to make it look too heavy. I’ve got some pretty nice pieces of 10/4 and 6/4 ribbon sapele for the project, which should also weather well outside. So along with the usual design challenges, I also have to keep in mind that this piece, no matter what, has a limited lifespan living outside. Moisture changes and wood movement play into the overall design and construction strategy. Comfort is the other consideration – the customer is looking to sit and read the paper on this. Lots to think about for sure.


Not too bad at 3/4 angle.

So a good part of this has included some back and forth with an interior designer, online research, and some help from publications like Jeff Miller’s Chairmaking and Design and old magazine articles on outdoor furniture.

The first prototype carries a number of 10 degree angles on edges, leg, seat back and joinery details. My goal was to establish overall proportions and key angles and planes for the design. One thing that was immediately clear on this was that the front and 3/4 angles were working well. It was the side view that became awkward and simply too heavy looking.

A little too heavy on the sides.

A little too heavy on the sides.

My next prototype builds on the 10 degree angles of the first, along with the overall dimensions, but I’m playing with the side leg design to lighten it up a bit. Plenty of more thought needed on joinery: I’m thinking some heavy draw bore pegs would look nice and prevent any issues in separation. Here is some of the progress on the 2.0 legs for the bench.


Version 2.0 prototype legs in progress.

I’ll be looking for some input tonight on Google+ Woodchat, in the hopes that the community can offer some opinions during the Design Jam.

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