Refinishing a Bench and How to Make a No-sew Tufted Cushion

About: There is nothing I love more then making something new and usable again that someone else would have thrown out or torn down!

My grandparents’ built this bench YEARS ago along with two others that I have. This one has taken the biggest beating over the years and has needed to be fixed and refinished for awhile now. Every month the group I’m a part of (the Farmhouse Hens Decorate) has a theme. This month’s theme turned out to be for benches so I knew exactly the piece I would be using!

Those bite marks are actually from my dog Diesel lol

So I started by cleaning it really well with vinegar and water before assessing the damage.

I knew I needed to at least get the top coat of poly off so I first hit every surface with fine grit sandpaper using my orbital palm sander. I planned on staining it the same color it already was so I didn’t take it all the way back to naked wood.

With stain-able wood filler I carefully filled in the holes and any other imperfections I could find. (Yes, filling those chew marks in made me kind of sad. Diesel’s been gone for over two years now and I still miss him.)

A little more sanding to smooth out the wood filler and than I stained the bench in Dark Walnut (by Minwax) by generously brushing the stain on, waiting twenty minutes, and then wiping it off with a towel. I put a coat of satin poly acrylic over my stain and my bench looked almost like new!

Step 1: Making the Cushion

I’ve had it in my head for awhile now that I wanted a cushion here because I sit on it almost every day to put my shoes on! The thing is though – I don’t have a sewing machine and I am incredibly not a seamstress SO I decided to figure out how to make a cushion lacking all sewing ability whatsoever.

First, I cut a piece of plywood three inches smaller than the lid of the bench. (Years ago I had a sleep number bed that died and left me with mounds of batting, foam and lots and lots of cushiony stuff. This is AT LEAST the third time I’m glad I kept it all! Batting is expensive!)

I drilled six holes in the top of the plywood (evenly spaced) for the buttons.

(My Grandma left behind a lifetime’s worth of buttons so I went through them and pulled out the six biggest ones that would work best here – I made no effort to make sure that they matched lol I liked it random.)

I cut the batting to the size of the seat so its wider than the plywood by about an inch and a half all the way around. I then poked up through each of the holes and cut the batting out around them so my buttons would really SINK. I secured my buttons with cotton kitchen twine by pulling them tight to really create my tufts and then stapling the twine to the back. With the buttons complete I secured the fabric with staples along the underside edge of the plywood all the way around.

Step 2: Completion and Use

Tah-dah! I love my new cushion and it was SO easy to make!

Next month I’m going to be tackling this bench again by adding paint and a stencil to the front of it, can’t wait to show you guys how the second stage of its makeover turns out!

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