Chavurah Masarti

Lynchburg, VA                  Founded on 2 Cheshvan, 5766 

Building Our Own Aron HaKodesh:

Step One, Planning (Early August, 2006):

  The first step was to draw up some rough plans.  Based on samples from other portable arks, I think that we will build something along the following lines (click for detail).


Step Two, Turning Lumber into Boards (8/13/06):

When one of our members first got the wood, it was in the form of rough boards that had been drying in a friend's barn for the last year. The next step was to plane and joint the boards to get them to proper thickness and make them square.  This did make a lot of shavings...

...but the finished product was a nice set of beautifully figured cedar planks.


Step Three, Gluing Up Panels (8/27/06):

The sides and front door will be raised panels, so I needed to glue up some boards to proper width.


Step Four, The Raised Panels (9/3/06):

The boards that we glued up for the side and door panels were already planed down to 0.5 inches, but we then had to raise the panel edges on the router with a large ogee bit.


Once that was done, it was time to cut three-quarter stock for the rails and stiles and to rout them out.


The final product is a raised panel, two for the sides and one for the door.


Step Five, Design Change -- Foot Molding and Crown Molding (9/4/06):

  After seeing the panels and considering the available stock, I decided to change the foot detail to utilize some thick wood that I was able to plane down to 1.375 inches.  I ran it diagonally over the circular saw to create a deep cove, routed the top corner with a round-over bit, and took a rabbit out of the back side to create a shelf upon which the cabinet will sit.  This created a nice foot molding that I glued up to form the base of the ark.



  I used a wide ogee bit (the same one used to raise the panels) to form some crown molding that is a bit smaller than originally designed, but it balances well against the base assembly




Step Six, Assembly (9/4/06):

  The first phase of assembly involved gluing up the side panels with the face frame and back pieces.  This resulted in another design change, as I decided to make the door flush across the front of the case rather than insetting it within a full face frame.  I used biscuit joints to assemble all of these pieces.  The back is constructed of thin tongue-and-groove cedar planks. 



Step Seven, Final Assembly (9/7/06):

  After going over the entire case twice with the random orbit sander, it was time to apply the base and attach the crown molding.  The cabinet is now complete and is waiting for a final sanding and a finish.  I don't think that stain will be necessary since the cedar already has a rich, red color.  Perhaps it just needs an oil finish or some polyurethane.


Step Eight, Decorative Scroll Work (9/13/06):

  I decided that the front door panel was too simple and did not stand out enough against the side panels.  I had some mahogany in the shop that makes a nice contrast with the cedar, so I reduced it to .125 inches and used the scroll saw to copy the pattern from our Torah cover.  The pattern is a stylized version of the words "Shema Yisrael" and forms the shape of a flame.  I like this pattern for several reasons, not the least of which is that it is reminiscent of a ner tamid, which we don't currently have.


Final Product, Rosh Hashanah 5767:

  After a careful final sanding of the detail work, I applied three coats of a clear satin wiping polyurethane and branded the date on the back.  The project was done in time for the High Holy Days when we said a shehechianu on Erev Rosh Hashanah and celebrated our very own aron hakodesh.