Thursday, February 7, 2008

If Only I Had A Picture...

A nickel for every time I've said that and I'd have this resto paid for. A major detail of the main stairs was ripped out when the wall was built through the foyer to make apartments. The basic clues were on the bead board of the closet, a recently discovered marking on the newel post, and markings that I noted on the floor before they were sanded. Also talking to the grandchildren I verified that there was a built in bench here and that it did have a lid (where the toy stash was!). So now to come up with a design to make something close to original based on some vague clues. Checking the web for similiar arts & crafts influenced staircases with built in benches, I got some ideas for the end that I would need to build. Initially I was going to go with a full side, than a friend suggested that maybe it was more like a lower case "h" design - and that's what I went with. Kinda like a pew design.

First problem was to be able to copy the beadboard that was still there. Markings on the floor showed that more was used to form the bench. Well I found oak casing that was close, and all I did was run each side through the router to get the bead design.



To build an end for the bench that had the design showing on each side I glued these pieces back to back, ending up with about an 1 1/2inch thick board. The original board is tongue and groove, but my copy was just casing molding, so to build a panel I needed to use a biscuit joiner and connect all the pieces with biscuits and wood glue - then clamped for 24 hrs. What I ended up with was a nice end panel that was pretty close to the old bead board.




To finish off the vertical edges I ripped down a 1x piece of oak and attached to the bead board panel. Then using a small piece of stock trim, I added along the horizontal edges where a "handrail" piece will be added on top of each level.



With the side panel permanently attached, I then built a frame for the front of the bench out of 1x2 oak and mounted the same bead board trim to this frame. This completed the side and front sections.... now for the top. I used a 1x4 to fill in the back out even with the edge of the newel post. I used the same 1x4 for each end of the top as well. This left the bench with a nice opening to add a lid that would hinge open. I mounted support pieces inside to support this side trim. The lid will be supported by the hinges in the back and the front will rest on the front wall of the bench.




Now for a lid. I built the bench to fit a 15 inch deep lid - which would be built from two 1x8 oak boards biscuit joined together (7 1/2 inches wide each actually). This was a small scale practice run for when I have to reproduce the dining room window seat. Actually it's quite easy and after clamping for a day I had a pretty tight board which required just a little sanding to hide the joint. I then cut the lid to fit the opening and finally routered an edge bead to the entire front lip of the lid and ends to copy a detail from the window seat which is original to the house.



For the arm rests I tried a few designs, ending up with using a simple 1x3 oak and routering an ogee along the edges.



And here is the final result....


It's just mocked up for now. I need to run some cabling into the closet from under the stairs. Then I can add supports and line the inside of the bench to make a storage compartment. Finally I'll do the permanent install and add hinges to the lid. The design "feels" right so I think I got it close to what was originally there.

4 comments:

dynochick (Jan) said...

Looks perfect.

They made such good use of space back then.

Aileen said...

Wow! You are so lucky to have your steps exposed like that! Our foursquare was also chopped up into apartments and I dream of taking out the wall that I suspect is hiding one side of the original railing!

Great looking bench!

Douglas said...

Mike,

This is grandson Doug again. My memory of this is not the best, but I do recall some aspects of the bench seat/toy storage at the base of the stairs. It was also the "time out" seat for kids! I remember it for that reason maybe!

I do not recall any siding to the bench's right hand side if you were sitting on it. You could slide to your right, right off the bench I believe.

As I look at the photos of your reconstruction, I would worry (as a practical matter) about someone coming quickly down the stairs, turning left to go to the dining room, and Banging their foot right into the protrusion of the side of the bench that sticks out into the floor.

Granted that when I sat on that bench it would have been the late 40s-early 50s, and it may well have been different from the original, but I just don't recall any side to it, just a rectangular box. Toys and games were inside. All of the woodwork was so dark at that time, I remember it as black (or maybe it was painted black).

You are doing a fantastic job. Keep up the good work.

Doug

Douglas said...

Mike,

This is grandson Doug again. My memory of this is not the best, but I do recall some aspects of the bench seat/toy storage at the base of the stairs. It was also the "time out" seat for kids! I remember it for that reason maybe!

I do not recall any siding to the bench's right hand side if you were sitting on it. You could slide to your right, right off the bench I believe.

As I look at the photos of your reconstruction, I would worry (as a practical matter) about someone coming quickly down the stairs, turning left to go to the dining room, and Banging their foot right into the protrusion of the side of the bench that sticks out into the floor.

Granted that when I sat on that bench it would have been the late 40s-early 50s, and it may well have been different from the original, but I just don't recall any side to it, just a rectangular box. Toys and games were inside. All of the woodwork was so dark at that time, I remember it as black (or maybe it was painted black).

You are doing a fantastic job. Keep up the good work.

Doug