My neighbours hired some builders to replace their garden fence. So of course I jumped at the chance to divert some wood from landfill and turn it into something special. My plan was to make a garden bench that a client had requested. So I asked the guys if they could leave the fence posts and base in my garden. They were over the moon as it meant less for them to dump. Everyone wins!
The client wanted the bench custom fit to her size. So I took her measurements and designed it to fit her frame to ensure maximum comfort.
This project was a challenge because most of the wood was warped and twisted after years of being outside. So I had to wrestle it into shape and make more adjustments than usual. I also dipped into my pile of off-cuts to get everything I needed to complete the project.
Building the garden bench
So after a lot of sanding, planing and swearing, I started by putting the centre frame together. It’s important to make sure this is flat and square, because every other part of the bench is attached to this piece.
I decided to join all of the wood using 10mm dowels rather than screws. I like this method because it’s super strong and spares you from having to cover up screw heads. But you don’t get the same pulling effect that you get from screws. So you have to make sure you have a well fitted joint.
Cutting the dowels
Chamfering the dowels
Inserting the dowels
I then attached the legs and the stretcher at the bottom for extra support.
Then the seat pieces went on. These were originally the planks that ran along the base of the old fence.
Next was my favourite part of the project, the arms. I cut the curved end with the bandsaw, and then used the router to round over the edges.
You’ll see that you don’t always need fancy clamps and holders to secure the wood for routing. Just some scrap wood and a few screws do a great job.
I then attached the arms and back pieces.
Finishing the garden bench
I treated the knots with Colron knotting solution and then painted it with Ronseal garden paint. This paint is really nice because it provides a rich colour but still allows the wood grain to show through. And you’ll notice I haven’t tried to fill every hole and crack. I think it’s nice to show signs of the wood’s previous life, rather than creating something dull and expressionless.
My client is now able to relax in her garden with a purpose built bench. And she’s happy that she has recycled some waste and done something positive for the environment.
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