Monday, October 5, 2015

Benches for Historic Spanish Point

Some of you may recall that a while back I made a model of the HSP (Historic Spanish Point) orange sorter. They wanted to use it for their outreach program to take it to schools, nursing homes, and that kind of thing.

HSP has beautiful grounds that are part of the land that had been owned by Bertha Honore Palmer, the wife of Potter Palmer who built the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. Besides being popular for historical tours and the like, they have facilities for weddings and other such gatherings. They have a small chapel the stained glass windows of which were the inspiration for one of the stained glass lanterns that I blogged about some months back.

Well, in order to better support (no pun intended) the gatherings they host there, HSP asked me to make some benches. I asked, with some trepidation, what they wanted the benches to be like. The reason for my fear dates back 25 years or so. I was going to build a swing set/climbing platform etc. in our back yard for the kids to play on. I thought it would be a good opportunity for them to learn about the design and planning process for such  project. We sat down and collected a bunch of ideas about what things they wanted to include, how many levels, how tall, how many swings and so forth. Then we drew pictures to scale from different angles of how it would look. Finally we built a small model to help work out the construction details. They agreed that that it was just what they wanted.

Then I went to work. It took me a few weeks of weekends but finally it was done. I hung the swings, fastened the ladders and climbing ropes, checked to make sure there were no rough spots or slivers, and then invited the kids out to try it. They came running out and as they got close they stopped dead in their tracks. They said, "Where's the slide?" I asked what slide they were talking about. They said they thought there was going to be a slide. I took them back in the house and we reviewed the list of desired features we had developed at the start of the project -- no slide. I showed them the drawings. Then we looked at the model. I pointed out that there was no slide on either of those. They allowed as how that while that was true it should have been obvious that a structure like this should have a slide.

Fade out 25 years ago, fade in present day. Scarred as I am from that episode I always nervous when someone wants something built but don't have too firm and idea as to what exactly it should be.

In this case my fears were completely unfounded. Kara at HSP had found exactly what she was looking for on the web at

What's more, the website included a dimensioned drawing and, much to my surprise the material costs really were around $15.

Kara brought the HSP truck and she and I went to Lowes and bought all the stuff.

I went into production line mode and cut all the pieces.

Mercifully, my friend Jim from across the street stopped by to see what was going on and volunteered to pitch in. We worked together over a number of days, improving our efficiency with each bench we completed.

Here are the first nine.

And here are the last sixteen. Kara seems pleased with them, and if she's happy, I'm happy. Thanks again to Jim for all his help, and thanks to for a solid design.

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