More office furniture: a bench

I’ve been working on a bench for the home office. I wanted something big enough for a short person like me to be able to lie down on (say while waiting for a make -j4 buildworld to finish on FreeBSD on slow hardware), and strong enough to outlive me and a now young oak tree to replace the wood I used.

I also wanted a little bit more drawer space. As is my penchant, I’m using Middle Atlantic TD rack mount drawers (all of my office furniture is sized to accommodate 19″ rack mounted gear). However, the bench spans the only HVAC register in the room (in the floor), and the combination of the position of the register and the width of the window bay meant that I could only put drawers in one side. For now I’m only occupying 5U of the 8U rack space, because I suspect I’m going to want a 3U fan panel to assist the HVAC when summer arrives.

The bench will be getting a cushion, of course. It is solid oak, with the base constructed of 4×4 legs and 2×4 stretchers. The top is 1 3/8″ thick oak butcher block (a workbench top), which I framed with 1×2 oak. It’s 61.5″ wide and 25.5″ deep. The height was dictated by the window sill; I didn’t want to block access to the handle in the lower window sash.

The feet are 1″ thick Delrin, bolted to the bottom of the oak legs via countersunk 5/16″-18 stainless countersunk bolts that thread into threaded inserts installed in the oak. I rough cut the Delrin, then mill the countersinks on the drill press. I then mark for the inserts in the oak.

I then drill the holes for the inserts and install them.

I then bolt the foot to the leg.

I then use a flush cutting bit on my trim router to make the feet match the leg, then run a roundover bit on the edges. Delrin/acetal machines like butter, even with woodworking tools. I use 1″ thick Delrin/acetal for heavy furniture feet, since it allows me to countersink the 5/16″-18 bolt heads more than 1/4″ (zero chance of the bolt heads contacting a floor for the next 75 years), while still having a lot of Delrin/acetal grabbed by the bolts. It’s not cheap, but it is fantastic for this application. If this were going on a wood floor I’d round over the countersink edges, but it’s going to live on porcelain so there’s no need. When I first used these kind of feet on the desks, I used 4 bolts. But 2 is plenty.

I have more than once considered UHMW instead, mostly for the cost saving. But it doesn’t machine quite as nicely, and it’s also not terribly dimensionally stable over temperature and humidity. Of course, neither is wood, but oak sealed with shellac and polyurethane doesn’t move much. And importantly, all of the weight is sitting on the feet. I don’t want them to squish over time. My desks are REALLY heavy, but the feet have held up beautifully. Honestly, if your design affords it, I can heartily recommended Delrin/acetal for feet. But even if you don’t use Delrin/acetal… replaceable feet are awesome. Here they’re on square oak 4x4s, but Delrin/acetal is also easy to lathe if your leg ends are round.

The top also has threaded inserts in the bottom, and the base pieces bolt to the top via countersunk 5/16″-18 bolts through the stretchers from underneath. The next picture shows one of the bolts (washer not shown) threaded into one of the inserts, and an insert installed into the bottom of the top.

The next picture shows the deeply countersunk holes in one of the top stretchers (the bench is upside down here). This is from before I glued and doweled the base pieces together.

The left part of the base is doweled and glued (Titebond III) together, as is the right leg assembly. It looked like this after assembly.

The bench is heavy even without the drawers (I’d guess about 75 pounds), but the Delrin feet allow the bench to glide easily on the porcelain floor when desired.

I am one of those people that likes really solid bench seating and bedding. Something that doesn’t flex or squeak, at all. And doesn’t move unintentionally but can be moved easily as needed. And can be disassembled/reassembled should it need to be carted up/down stairs. And fits the intended space exactly.

Objectives met.

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