Monday, September 9, 2013

DIY: Restoring a park bench

One of the things Mike and I share is a desire to re-use, recycle and fix what others call trash.

Park bench covered with green lichens
When we were getting my house ready to sell, we were very mindful to recycle whenever possible.  We  donated old paint to Habitat for Humanity ReStore and donated clothes, towels, pots and pans to Goodwill.

I also re-use old items such as jeans for making purses, and I've re-purposed many items into suncatchers.







So, you're probably not surprised that Mike and I rescued an old park bench from the neighbor's trash earlier this summer.  Not only did we see the promise in this once regal bench, but we wanted to save it from going into the landfill.

So here's a quick description of how we fixed up this park bench destined for the trash.  This is my first Do It Yourself blog, so bear with me here...



Step 1:  I removed the old boards using a screw driver and crescent wrench.  The screws were very rusty so we couldn't re-use them.

Unfortunately the boards were very weak, and we couldn't really re-use them. They went into the trash.











Step 2:  We discussed several types of wood we could use including Oak, Cedar and Red Cedar.  Since the bench would be located outside, we decided on Red Cedar because it contains oil which helps it endure the elements.  After checking at Lowe's and Menard's, we ended up at a local lumber store, Northwest Lumber, and purchased 12 feet of 1x12 Red Cedar Wood.

Step 3:  Using the table saw, Mike "ripped" (sawed lengthwise) the wood into 12 pieces. Basically we measured the wood we removed, and replicated the size of boards.





Step 4:  Mike used the radial arm saw to create bevels on the front edges of the 12 pieces of wood.  Here's where we made a design change from the original bench as we thought it would be more comfortable to sit on wood with beveled edges.





Step 5:  I learned to use the drill press to create holes for the screws. After determining the location of the screws from the discarded boards, I measured and marked the holes on the new boards. I first drilled pilot holes to help insure the location was correct.  Using the pilot holes as a guide, I drilled the actual holes in each end of the board.  I wore safety glasses to keep any wood out of my eyes.



Step 6:  I used 100 grit sandpaper to sand the front and sides of each piece of wood.  The back of the wood had a rough finish, and since it would be on the back of the bench, we decided it did not need sanding.

Step 7:  It was time to work on the wrought iron.  First I used a steel brush to clean off a few rust spots. Next I sprayed a rust-converting primer on these rust spots.  When this dried, Mike created a temporary rigging board to join the 2 pieces so I could paint them in an upright position.  I sprayed Rustoleum Black Satin paint over both wrought iron pieces using a short side-to-side motion.
















Step 8:  We purchased oval head stainless steel screws, washers and nylon-insert locknuts from Lowe's that  were the same size as those we removed.  We then fastened the boards to the wrought iron and the braces to the wood.


Here is the finished park bench with Red Cedar wood and freshly painted wrought iron.  


Total cost: Approximately $40, with $30 of that for the wood.

Total time:  Approximately 8 hours with about 3 of it spent shopping for the wood.








So, if you see a park bench sitting out on the curb waiting for trash pickup, or your own park bench is showing some wear, you might consider taking on a project like this.

We enjoyed working on the project together, and we're really happy with the results!

Diane



34 comments:

  1. I just got a bench similar condition from a neighbor's trash pile too.

    A wife that uses a drill press? I am sooooo jealous! LOL!

    Great job guys. Did you treat the wood with any sealer or varnish?

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  2. Since we used red cedar wood which will age nicely on its' own, we decided against a sealer or varnish. Good luck with your project! Our bench has been a lovely addition to the yard, and it looks beautiful with the Fall leaves covering it.

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  3. Thanks a lot for the write up! Bench looks awesome! I ended up with just the cast iron ends of an old bench- I guess the previous owner removed the wood so I have nothing to use to get the measurements :( would you mind giving me the widths of the slats?

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    Replies
    1. Here are the measurements:
      12 boards, each is 48 inches long.
      9 of the boards are 2 1/4 inches wide.
      The bottom two boards and top board are 1 1/4 inches wide.

      Good luck with your bench!

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    2. It looks like the top board is also 1 1/4"

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  4. What thickness wood did you use?

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    Replies
    1. The thickness was about 3/4 inch.

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    2. I am rebuilding the very same bench (design) I am choosing 1 1/2" thick wood.

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  5. What could you use for the center support since I am starting my project with only the bench ends?

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  6. I would use mild steel 1/16 inch thick, 3/4 inch wide that you could probably find in hardware store, metal shapes area. Bend the strap to fit the contour of the boards. Drill holes at the approximate center of each board for screws. Use thicker metal, 1/8 inch for diagonal braces under the seat.

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  7. Hi there, Thank you so much for this tutorial.. I just went to pick up a antique set of draws from a lady and she asked if i was interested in taking the two cast bench seats as well. I did not hesitate at all I see the beauty in everything ugly.. They are actually in very good condition apart from the bad ping and purple paint job and flaky varnish.. Im positive i will not even have to replace the wood.. Good score for me, her loss. Can you believe she was going to take them to the tip.. I'm going to stick with the black frame work and stain the timber Jarrah.. Wish me luck Lisa

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    Replies
    1. Lisa, Good luck with your project. Sounds like you got great benches in good condition!
      Diane

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  8. Hi,
    This is great. Someone gave me an old one of these that I've been working on. There are no holes going through the original wood on mine so they were screwed in from behind. I see you decided to go through the wood and use [you say screws but I assume you mean bolts] bolts and nuts. Any particular reason why? Were the boards attached that way when you got it and you just went with the original design? Thanks alot!

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  9. Glad this information was helpful. We went with the original design when we restored the bench. Good luck!
    Diane

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  10. I have tje same exact bench with the ornate ends, i am trying to.date the piece befor i restore it does anybody know when it was made or by whom?

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately I do not know the age of the bench, and I never really researched it.
      Diane

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    2. Diane! Fabulous job and I see lots of people have found this post in the three years since you first posted it.

      "Unknown" asked about manufacturer and date. We have six of these benches (all from auctions with an average price of $14 each) so I've tried to do lots of research.

      One blogger said she bought two of these new from Harbor Freight "years ago." The benches seem awfully sturdy (and CLASSY) for Harbor Freight but maybe that was before they decided to make them more "cost effective."

      A couple weeks ago, I was in Los Algodones (Mexico) and saw a whole bunch of this style...including longer versions with a "center post."

      I really went into full gear researching and found a company in Romania that manufactures them:
      http://www.kronemag.eu/cast-iron-garden-bench-oslo-fr

      The longer version:
      http://www.kronemag.eu/cast-iron-garden-bench-oxford-fr

      At the price KroneMag is charging, I doubt they were exporting to North America.

      We haven't begun restoring our benches but I have a couple thoughts:
      1. Length of slats: Our slats were four feet long (WERE as the slats not being used as templates went to someone's burn pile). Dave wants to use three pair to make a "set" of one bench and two chairs. I suspect the chairs would have two-foot slats. My point is that, if you have to replace all the slats, make them a length that works for you.

      2. Width of slats: Diane, your bench looks better than almost any bench I've seen on Pinterest, etc. The original slats were in two widths and it appears that many people made all of their new slats in the smaller size. This makes for too much space between the slats that should have been wider. We'll measure the distance from bolt-to-bolt so we know which slat to put where.

      I have spent only a little time researching actual "Edwardian" garden benches but what I have seen looks really lightweight compared to this bench. Didn't see any CAST iron. Makes me think that these aren't actually antiques...but I'm sure we can call them vintage!

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  11. Hi, thanks for sharing. I just picked up 2 benches like this and a matching table from a neighbours through out pile. Mine are slightly different, they have a lion on the outside centre but look much the same at first glance. Anyway, great result with your bench, I've found your information, measurements etc. very helpful.
    Cheers, John

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    Replies
    1. Thanks John! Sounds like you had quite the find in the neighbor's trash. Best of luck in your restoration project.
      Diane

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    2. John! Demolition Depot in New york has two pair of "reproduction ends" right now. Both pair have the lion head.

      These also appear to have more cast iron in them than the ones I have.

      http://www.demolitiondepot.com/vo/demo/inv/detail.asp?ID=19273#sthash.9sTVLcCi.dpbs

      http://www.demolitiondepot.com/vo/demo/inv/detail.asp?ID=15965#sthash.6A4EvZxr.dpbs

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  12. Great tutorial Dianne, and you did a wonderful job on the restoration. I recently obtained just one vintage bench end(the second was missing the leg portion). I have it leaning against my living room wall at the moment as it is pretty to look at. I am thinking of attaching boards maybe a foot long so it will free stand out from the wall as a shelf. Then I can decorate it with some greenery and/or a floral vine/ plant pots to help bring it to life. Just need to find some wood now. Hoping for repurposed wood if I can find something suitable.

    Cheers!

    Karen

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    Replies
    1. Karen, I agree that the scroll work is beautiful. It sounds like you may have found an interior use for the piece. Would love to see a picture when you finish it! Good luck!

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  13. Thank you for sharing the steps and materials used to bring this beauty back to life. Exactly what I was looking for and oddly enough for the same exact bench.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading this post and your comments on the bench! Best of luck in restoring your bench!

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  14. Hi Diane,
    I have an identical bench. Any idea where I might buy those recycled plastic slats or just the bench slats you have in any type of wood? I don't have all the cutting tools - table saw, drill press etc.
    Thanks,
    Kevin

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    Replies
    1. Kevin, I do not know where you could buy ready-made materials, but you might be able to have boards cut to length at your local lumber store. Good luck on your project. The end result is well worth the time and effort!

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  15. Thanks Diane - excellent communication - wow, appreciate your reply!

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  16. Excellent job. I am doing almost the exact same project except I'm using white oak for the slats. Thanks for posting

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    Replies
    1. Good luck on your project. I would love to see a picture of the bench with white oak slats.

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  17. I think I may have made a comment on this tutorial a few years ago. I'm very happy to have found this again!! Today, I went to the local Habitat ReStore and found some 2 red oak boards, a gray composite board and 2 mystery prepainted hardwood boards. I know that each piece is at least twice as wide tall and wide as the original slats, and I have some wood to replace on the back panel with the iron inset!! I know, I'm ready to get going on this project!!

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  18. What size screws did you use?

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    Replies
    1. 1/4 inch stainless steel oval head with Phillips drive and stainless steel nylon-insert stop nuts and stainless steel washers on the back. We countersunk the wood to accommodate the taper of the screws.

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