Akom's Tech Ruminations

Various tech outbursts - code and solutions to practical problems

Making a Folding Meditation Kneeling Bench Low Tech Hacks

Posted by Admin • Tuesday, January 13. 2009 • Category: Low Tech Hacks

The bench
OK so this is pretty low-tech, but hey - why not? Kneeling benches are really unbeatable for meditation and prayer, but they are also great to just sit on - not only does it keep your back straight and prevents slouching, but it also places your feet right under you, so your weight distribution is optimal (and you don't fall). Sure, sitting like that can be tough at first, but it comes with practice. Plus, if you're intent on deep meditation, it is definitely worth getting used to.

I've made a non-folding bench before, and figured I'd try to make a portable one this time. I took what I learned from the last one and made some adjustments - I decided on a 10° angle this time. I also wanted it to fold and I didn't want the feet to protrude when folded. Here are the details.

Folded View
Feet at an angle
First, I realized that I don't need a 10° incline to be all at the top - so I split it into two 5° tilts on top and bottom. If anything, a bench like this may have a tendency to fall backwards, so tilting the whole thing forward would be safe.

Then, in order to keep the folded feet within the perimeter, I mounted the feet at 5° angle too, and now they fold straight. They stand at 5°, obviously, but that probably just makes it more stable.

Materials

So, to make one of those you will need:
  1. Wood (Sizes are a personal choice)
    • Top Board: 5.5 x 18 x 3/4
    • Feet (each): 4.5 x 8 x 3/4
  2. Hinge - a continuous hinge works well (I had some leftover from my Van Furniture Project). Since I was using 4.5" boards, and I wanted at least 3 holes in my hinge, I cut them to about 5"
  3. Velcro (optional, to keep it closed)
  4. Felt (optional, to protect floors)
    1. Side View


      Tools

      • Saw. A miter saw is best, and very much worth it. Mine is a cheap $70 compound miter saw from Home Depot, and it's been great. Any other type of saw will work (hand, circular, table, reciprocating, etc) but will require more time and effort
      • Drill/Driver (for driving in screws)
      • Metal Snips (for cutting the hinge - but a hacksaw or another tool may work too)
      • Sandpaper (for smoothing edges and preventing spliters... or if you're intent on a deep mirror finish, then you already know what you need). I just rounded the edges with 80 and 220 grit, and left it at that.
      • Alcohol (to clean the boards before velcro/felt application)
      Finishing Details


      Construction

      Tapered Hinge
      1. Cut the top board. The dimensions above are approximate, you may want a larger/smaller bench. My body requires a fairly small bench, and that's what I made
      2. Cut the feet. On my miter saw, I simply click it to 5° and cut. The height, again, is up to you, but the dimensions given in the images work well for me
      3. Cut the hinge (unless you have a different type of hinge) to be either the same length as the feet or longer... if it's longer, you'll need to taper the corners on one side, so they don't stab you :-)
      4. Test that the feet fit on the surface of the top board, as you move them through their future range of motion
      5. If you care to varnish your bench, you should do that at this point
      6. Mount hinge to feet, then to top board - I used a 5° angle so that when closed, the feet line up with the top board perfectly
      7. Some felt and velcro, and you're done.

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6 Comments

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  1. Thank you for this post. I am going to use this info for a bench I am designing.-Cathy
  2. I Love It! I'm making one this weekend. Thank You!
  3. I understand this is a foldable bench. When one sits on it, what is there to prevent the legs of the bench from folding? Would it better to file the bottom of the legs so that the touch the ground at an angle?
  4. What prevents it from falling is traction. The hinges, while not extremely strong, prevent the legs from swinging past 90 degrees and thus the only way the legs could go is inwards. As long as the floor has adequate traction and you aren't rocking the bench laterally (no exorcisms or sufi dancing on the bench!) it doesn't budge. Even if they tried, the legs would probably have nowhere to go because your own ankles would get in their way. I use mine on carpet and hardwood and have yet to experience a problem. Now if you are rather heavy and tend to rock while sitting, this may not be the best design - but you don't get portability without sacrificing something.
  5. Thanks a lot for your reply. It answers all my concerns. Luckily I am not heavy, nor do I intend to do sufi or any other type of dancing on the meditation seat. Meditation is what I need it for. And your answer is timley. I had planned to install a support mechanism so that the lges are fastened with a screw, but that seems unnecessary, from your explanation.

    One other thing: I have Parquett wood flooring, but I intend to use the meditation bench on a carpet. But just in case, is there a practical way to attach some sort of velcro or other cushioning material, so that the legs don't scratch the flooring?

    Thanks again for your reply. I will keep you informed of my learning.

    Regards
    Ramesh
  6. Allow me to bring your attention to Materials item #4: Felt.

    Felt is a soft material that is typically used to prevent floor-standing items from damaging the floor. Felt may be purchased at any general or hardware store. Typically felt comes in peel-off self-adhesive format.

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