Garden Bench Refurb




Introduction: Garden Bench Refurb

This project started when I was talking with my landlord about a bench he has at his other property. It was rusty and rotten but I could see the potential. He ended up letting me have it for free because it wasn't safe to use and a bit of an eye sore.

I had to remove one side to get it into my car. But here is what I started with.

Everything was disassembled and measured.

I don't have every tool I should have used but I made due

The tools I used for this job:
Table saw
Cordless drill
Table router
Orbital sander
Miter saw

2 x 1x6x8' cedar boards
Marine quality Spar varnish
Black matte spray paint
Nuts and bolts and screws

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Step 1: Cutting

I started by cutting my two boards to the desired length with my miter saw to make handling them on the table saw easier.

I ripped all the boards down to be 2.5" in width. Leaving me with 8 identical pieces of cedar. But the side parts along the back are only 2" so I took my 8th board and ripped off another 1/2 inch which I took back to the miter saw and cut down to size of the original sides plus 1/2" extra on both sides because I decided I was going to create a rabbet joint for increased stability because the only thing holding the original sides on was screws ( the bolts are in the top and bottom board)

Step 2: Sanding 1

I sanded everything with 80 grit sandpaper. I used some scrap and a work table to make a jig of sorts to hold each piece with out having to clamp

Step 3: Routing

Since is spent a lot of time selecting boards that I felt were the best for the project I spent a little time deciding where I wanted each board to be placed.

4 of the bench boards were routed with a 1/4" bit to round over the top edges

The last board which is to be the front board of the benched received a 1/4" round over and the other received a 1/2". To make it more comfortable.

For the back I only rounded over one edge with a 1/2" bit. The rest remained square.

I then created my rabbet joints to connect the top and bottom. This was done with a 3/8" bit to cut the slot and I used the fence to trim down the access on side pieces to fit.

Step 4: Dry Fit

I wanted to get an idea of what the final product would look like before is started the finishing stages and I'm glad I did. I hadn't noticed that the back iron was not square and had access iron in some spots so used my router to shave 1/8" off the bottom 2/3 of the inside edges of each of the back boards. I also use my wood chisel to fit the iron snug where there was that access iron. Then I finished the dry fit and was happy.

Step 5: Drilling & Sanding

Next up was drilling and finish sanding

I used the old boards as a template and drilled all 14 holes with a 1/4" bit

Then I sanded and sanded and sanded with first 120 grit then 220 grit what flat edges I could with the same set up I did with the 80 grit for the routed edges I sanded them by hand. I wiped them all down with a dry rag to get any residual dust off

Step 6: Wash, Paint and Varnish

Since this bench was intended as a gift for my parents I asked my dad if he wanted the cedar to fade to gray or if he wanted the color locked in. He chose the later so I went online to how best to protect cedar from the elements and everywhere I looked it looked like marine quality spar was the best choice for UV protection and to seal out the elements.

I tested the finish out on a piece of scrap from the board I used to create the side pieces. After I let it dry over night and was satisfied with the finish I started my first coat

As I let the first coat dry I finally turned my attention to the iron. I sprayed down the iron with a vinegar water and dish soap concoction I found online and started scrubbing with a fine brillow pad. The rust wasn't as bad as I thought so after an hour or so I had nice clean cast iron and fixtures.

I followed the instructions on the varnish to apply the second coat.

The next day I sanded the wood to apply a third coat and spray painted the iron and fixtures now that they were dry.

I ended up doing four coats mostly because I ran out of time and the humidity was so high it needed more time to dry.

Step 7: Back Assembly

I knew I was transporting it in pieces but I wanted the back intact for transport. So I glued clamped and screwed the boards to the back iron and let it dry for a day before I had to deliver it.

Step 8: Final Assembly

Was easy with all the prework. Had to drill some pilot holes for the hardware and forgot a box of nuts which made for a quick hardware store visit. But it turned out great.

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    10 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Thank for posting this. A neighbor was about to throw out a bench very similar to yours because the boards were old, warped and cracking. I mentioned it could be fixed so they gave it to me and now I've found this instructable that can help me with doing it.


    5 years ago on Step 8

    I have this same project to do. Thanks for posting.


    5 years ago

    I voted for your instructable please vote for mine. It's a win-win"How to make a light for your glovebox" thanks so much.


    5 years ago on Step 8

    Gorgeous bench. I have one with cast iron fiberglass that is peeling. I've been pondering how to save it for awhile. I was thinking I'd sand/paint it, but I know that'd just wear out again over the season. Wood replacement would work great..


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! The great thing about the Cedar is if you want it really low maintenance. You can just let it go natural and it will last for years if you don't mind it turning gray.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    The before-after is amazing! You did a great job.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! It was a great first project to get back into woodworking again after many years away.