Churches often renovate and the old pews are put up for sale. Most church pews are too long to be used in the home, but they can be cut down in about an hour. Church pews work nicely for a hall bench or anywhere that you have space where you can use some old-world craftsmanship.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Two sawhorses
- Hand clamp
- Cordless screwgun
- Chisel, 3/4 inch
- Diagonal pliers (dykes)
- Tape measure
- Masking tape
- Carpenters square
- Circular saw
- 12 finish nails, 1 1/4-inch
Turn the pew upside down on the top of the sawhorses with the back facing straight down. Reach around one of the pew ends, and clamp it to one of the sawhorses.
Remove the plywood support cleat on the end of the pew that does not have the clamp, by loosening and removing the screws holding it in place with the cordless screwgun. The plywood support cleat is a raw, unfinished piece of plywood about 10 inches long. Remove any and all screws penetrating into the bottom of the seat.
Pry off the quarter round moulding on the pew back with a chisel, and remove any remaining nails with diagonal pliers. Removing the quarter round will expose another line of screws; using the cordless drill, remove all of these screws. The pew end should now be free of the pew. Holding the pew end with one hand, tap on the end with an outward motion, as the pew end drops off hold onto it, set it down on the floor.
Measure over from the other side of the pew end to the measurement you want the pew end to be cut down to. Take note of how far the seat and back extend into the pew-end routing and figure that into your measurement. Make your cut line accordingly.
Lay the carpenters square on the mark and mark all the way across the pew seat bottom. Extend the line all the way down the back, making sure that your line does not cut through an exposed screw. If the line intersects a screw, remove the screw. Run a piece of masking tape along the edge of the line all the way across the seat and down the back.
Hold the skill saw with your right hand, start at the back, brace the pew with your left hand and cut all the way across the seat.
Move the saw to the bottom of your cutline on the bottom of the back. Align the saw with your cut line and cut straight up, meeting the cutline of the seat. When the cut-off pieces fall away, discard them.
Pick up the pew end, and slide it back onto the seat and back assembly; the routing should fit exactly the same way as it did before. Screw the plywood shims back on, replace all the screw where the quarter round moulding was, and finally, replace the quarter round by nailing it back in place with 1 1/4-inch finish nails.
Tips and warnings
- Don't be concerned with chipping or blowout when cutting across the seat and back; the routing will cover it.
- Always wear safety glasses.
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