A new benchmark
Are you sitting comfortably? Then, to coin a phrase, I’ll begin…
There’s a lot of waste wood around the property at the moment, some left over from the work on the annex, some from the ongoing work on the garage, and some from old fencing that was dumped behind the garage. It’s a good supply of kindling for the woodburner but I have designs on some of it – I need a larger workbench for the studio for which I’ve started to cut wood. But today’s project was a different bench – a bench seat for outside the house.
I’ve been designing a simple bench in my mind for years, for the leftover wood from the deck I built years ago back in Greenford but never got around to building it. It’s a more practical life up here on Skye, so I set to work yesterday sorting out timber to experiment with. I did, however, have one disappointment. Out of interest I did an online search for bench plans and found that my fledgling design already existed. Not only did it exist but it even had a name: it’s an Aldo Leopold bench. No, me neither. But perhaps I should have.
Leopold, it turns out, was an early player in the American environmental and wilderness conservation movement, becoming professor at the University of Wisconsin. Here’s a quote from A Sand County Almanac, a collection of his writing published shortly after his death in 1948. “… a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.” And amen to that.
By a happy co-incidence with my discovery of Aldo Leopold we also recently discovered that 2013 is The Year of Natural Scotland [don’t know how I missed that!]. The more observant of returning readers may have noticed that I’ve added their logo to the blog’s banner.
Anyway, back to the bench. It’s a very simple design that can be made from a few lengths of solid timber [the original spec seems to be 8″ x 2″ by enough to finish] a few screws and coach bolts: all things that have been found lying around rural properties for generations. It’s true to the original conservation ethos that the timber has been reclaimed. Unfortunately I couldn’t reclaim quite enough 8 x 2 so the back is made from two pieces of 3 x 2, which gives it a lighter look, although weakens it a little. There’s a very slight lateral wobble [although no worse than many commercial garden benches!], so I may make a few tweaks – maybe a stretcher on the rear legs.
As there is an environmental flavor to this post I also can’t help but note that today the Scottish government has given consent to the building of a wind farm off Aberdeen. This is in plain view of the controversial golf complex being developed by American egocentric and bewigged buffoon Donald Trump, and which he has been opposing as it “will spoil the sea view for the golfers” and “will definitely be the destruction of Aberdeen and Scotland itself”. This is the same golf course that was built on, and destroyed, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Sorry Donald, your opinions on anything related to the environment are as valid as what ever it is that seems to have gone to sleep on your head. And less intelligent. Goodness knows what Aldo would have thought…
Currently listening to: Traces – Karin Polwart