Commissioned Furniture – Balance Bench
Located outside of Erie, Pa in Edinboro Cosmo Barbaro Furniture produces custom built furniture for clients. Brockport State University commissioned this custom built Balance Bench which utilizes reclaimed ash lumber. Lumber was harvested from historic ash trees that had fallen during a wind storm on the campus of Brockport State University. All of the lumber that was used in the making of this ash sphere was reclaimed ash. Cosmo Barbaro Furniture designs and builds all of his own custom wood furniture from original designs. This custom Balance Bench was influenced by Egyptian Art and Art Deco Furniture Artists. Once a client signs off on the final design it is my job to create this idea in three dimensions out of wood. These photos document the milling, gluing, cutting, drilling and turning of this custom ash sphere. The material is 8/4 or 2 inch thick ash, which is surfaced on a jointer and edge glued first to create a 2 inch x 16 x 16 inch solid ash panel. To create a 16 inch custom ash sphere there were 8 layers of 2″ x 16″ x 16″ solid ash panels that were stack laminated together. This sphere has two 1/2 inch holes located and drilled into the face prior to chain sawing. These holes accept the lower aluminum rail that completes the bottom structure of this one of a kind bench. Once the ash pieces have been laminated all excess wood is removed with a chain saw. This creates a faceted cylinder which has to be turned into a round cylinder. All excess wood is removed then this large ash block is mounted on a lathe. Because of the size this piece is turned very slowly until a 16 inch cylinder is created.
Once the cylinder is created then a series of measurements are taken from the center of the cylinder to each edge. Transferred from shop drawings these measurements were applied to the ash piece with a pair of dividers. Turning begins at the center working to the bottom of each end of the ash sphere. Once all measurements are transferred and the sphere is roughed out with lathe tools the sanding process starts. I started with 80 grit sand paper and worked up in progression to finish at 320 grit. Finally a finish of spar varnish is applied in several coats to this custom ash sphere. This sphere was a lower support structure for the custom Balance Bench. This custom ash sphere is attached to the bench with a large mortise and tenon. This process was intimidating at first, but by following basic layout processes for creating a sphere made everything easy and fun.