Today's guest post is written by Andrew Fujii.
The history of pews dates back all the way to the 13th century, when they were made from stone. These backless stone benches were commonly found in English churches. Most pews were typically placed against the walls, however as time passed many churches began moving towards the nave, or central body of the church.
Wooden pews wouldn’t be found until a century later and wouldn’t become common in churches until the 15th century. Pews at this time were not fixated permanently to the ground. This wouldn’t become common until after the Protestant Reformation. In early times, some church pews were often the financial responsibility of the congregation’s members. Families could buy church pews which became their personal property.
How Pews Are Made - The Basics
Church pews are usually made from wood. They are long bench-like seats that give the congregation with seating. The pews in a church are usually placed in rows, with a pathway left in between the pews to allow for an aisle where a pastor or priest can proceed.
Some churches upholster their pews to give more comfort. Fabric and cushioning is used to provide both a backrest and seat rest. Although not as common, especially among conservative churches, footrests can also be built it.
Behind many pews, attached to the backs, are slots where Bibles, prayer books, hymnals, and other church literature can be placed.
Churches that require kneeling during prayer often outfit their pews with kneelers. These long, often padded, boards run parallel and the length of the pew. These kneelers are placed in front of the pew seating so that church members can kneel on the kneelers instead of the floor. Some kneelers are actually attached to the pews in the row ahead and can be rotated to be placed up and out-of-the-way when the congregants are not kneeling.
Above: re-purpose an old church pew into a seating area in your home or office.
Construction of pews usually takes place in a manufacturing setting which can mass produce each piece. However, the following steps will guide you through making a pew from scratch. Mass produced pews follow the same general steps but have them automated by machine. The wood usually used in pews is pine, oak, mahogany, or cherry. Here’s what wood pieces you’ll needed:
- Two 1 inch x 20 inch x 34 inch boards
- One 1 inch x 4 inch x 4 foot board
- One 1 inch x 2 inch x 4 foot board
- Two 1 inch x 4 inch x 10 foot boards
- One 1 inch x 2 inch x 5 foot board
- Two 1 inch x 3 inch x 10 foot boards
Step 1: Creating the End Frames
Using two 20-inch by 34-inch boards, draw an angled L shape. The measurements can vary based on your pew design but for this example we’ll stick to specific measurements. Placing the long side up, measure two inches on the top from left side and make a mark. From bottom measure up fifteen inches and five inches in from the left side. Mark this point. On the right side, place a mark sixteen inches up.
Flip the board over and label the same dimensions. Saw the board along the marks and sand the edges to smooth them.
Step 2: Bench and Back Support
Saw into your 4-inch by 4-inch board, trimming it down to a 4-inch by 3-feet piece. This piece serves as a bench support.
Next, cut your lower back support piece from the 2-inch by 4-foot board into a piece measuring 2-inches by 3-feet.
Step 3: The Seat
Cut the each of the two 4-inch by 10-foot boards into four equal pieces.
Saw down the 2-inch by 5-foot board to a 2-inch by 4-foot rear seat board.
Step 4: Backside
Cut four 3-inch by 4-foot boards using the 3-inch by 10-foot board.
Step 5: Assembling the Frame
Add the cross support piece in the middle of your L-shaped pieces, leaving one foot from the floor and one foot in from the frame back. Use wood glue to join the pieces together and secure the frame. The complete joining these pieces together add in wooden screws.
The lower back support piece should now be added one inch above the floor and two inches from the back. Apply glue to join it with the frame and secure it with wooden screws.
Step 6: Adding the Seat and Back
Set the seat piece in the farthest seat corner with the 2-inch side facing front. Apply glue and secure with nails. Now add the 4-inch by 4-foot boards by placing them in the back and securing with nails and glue.
Beginning with the bottom back board, layer the 3-inch by 4-foot boards at about six inches from the lower back. Secure each piece in place with glue and nails before layering in the next board. The last back board will protrude one inch above the back.
Step 7: Sand
With your pew almost completed, it is time to add some finishing touches. Use sandpaper to even out the surfaces of each piece and smooth out any sharp edges. You might need any combination of 130-grit, 180-grit, and 220-grit sandpaper to do the job.
Step 8: Stain
The last step is to stain the pew. The color stain is completely up to you, just make sure it is even and thorough throughout the pew.
About the author:
Andrew Fujii is a marketing professional with expertise in digital/web and content marketing. He is also a copywriter for multiple agencies producing copy for blogs, articles, websites, product packaging, mobile apps, and more.