Benches & Tables

In 2017, we designed and undertook construction of new benches, based upon a traditional Shaker design, using ¾ inch blockboard. These benches are much lighter, stronger, movable, and comfortable. To save time, we brought sheets of blockboard to a cabinet shop at a local Christian school, where for a relatively nominal charge they were ripped into appropriate widths. Our team assembled half a dozen benches, using deck screws and glue. A coat of varnish will complete the job.

While developing solar facilities to provide lighting for the children to read and study, we were also aware that in most cases they would have to sit on the floor to do so. In 2013 we initiated a program to build benches and tables for them. We wanted the tables to be strong yet readily collapsible, as the centers are often used for large group activities. We constructed foldable sawhorses for supports. For the top a 4 foot x 8 foot sheet of locally available block board, after timber supports were screwed underneath for stability, was simply laid across the support legs. We built two tables each for Khwamba, and Chimwang’ombe centers.

We constructed 8 foot long benches from locally available rough timbers. These did not fare as well as the tables, as this wood is quite soft and does not hold screws well. These benches were heavy, rough, and unfortunately did not withstand the stresses of active children.

Building Shaker benches at Khwamba . . . attracted a large audience of interested "onlookers"!

The first bench withstood the test of our team!

After we left, MOH's carpenter Lamech Tsoka took over the task of building more benches!

One of our goals is to create a MOH "cabinet shop"  . . .  which would open doors to build book shelves, benches, and many other things . . . and enable future project sustainability.  A principle need is finding a 10 inch table saw  someone is willing to donate, that we can include in a future shipment.  Several years ago we initiated this objective by shipping a donated drill press.  We located a welding shop in Lilongwe who build a very nice steel stand for the drill press at a reasonable cost.

Of course this "shop" would be located at the MOH center in Lilongwe, where electricity is available! The key is that the motors of such machines must be removable . . . Malawi electricity is 50 Hz, whereas U.S. is 60 Hz. A U.S. motor would burn out prematurely, but we can swap motors and rewire the machines.

A MOH Cabinet Shop!