Garden Bench Restoration

We came across this worn and weathered garden bench at a vendor at the Elephant’s Trunk flea market for $80. It was a heavy piece with sides and back made of solid wrought iron.

We’d just finished more work on a garden, turned larger garden, turned seating area, under under a massive pine in our back yard and while it was a nice little spot for two, there was room for more so we we set out again to look for something we could use for more seating. This would wind up being the perfect piece.

How we rate this project


Equipment list

On to the project

The first thing we did when we got it home was to take it apart and see what we had. The wood was warped and really damaged and the hardware was rusted and stripped.

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After a trip to the hardware store we got new hardware, and wood as well as some spar urethane and a can of outdoor paint. You can see how damaged the wood was compared to the new red oak that we purchased. We also got thicker wood for the seat panels. the original panels were half inch., but we got them at 3/4 inch thick.

Laying down drop sheets in the driveway and propping the pieces up the metalwork on old paint cans, Anne got to spray painting while I hopped on measuring and cutting the new slats for the back panel.

The slats on the back were a little tricky as they were angled along the tops and bottoms as well as wedged shape along its depth. I’m no woodworking pro but the miter saw helped make this much easier to handle. As you can see in the slide show I also numbered each of the old slats in the hopes that it would make reassembly with new ones a less complicated task.

A note on nuts and bolts

This may sound obvious but it’s something we wanted to call out. We took the rusted screws and hardware with us to Lowe’s and learned that they were metric (millimeters, centimeters, etc.) and not imperial (inches, feet, yards etc). So be sure to get that sorted if you’re doing something similar.

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With the ironwork painted, wood cut, sanded and fitted, we set to the comical and difficult task of reassembling it.

We were pretty excited and seeing it come together was extremely rewarding. We then moved it upstairs and inside to start applying and sanding numerous coats of spar urethane. Because we wanted this to be an outdoor piece we applied five coats.

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All in all this was a relatively easy and cheap restoration. This is a piece we purchased essentially for the wrought iron elements, fully intending to just rebuild the rest.

The results

bench 16

When you’re out searching. Envision what it could be, above what it currently looks like and just plan things out. Don’t be afraid to ask questions for things like the best wood to use either. The people in our local Lowes were extremely helpful.

In fact we took a before and after photo, back to the employee who helped us to show him how things turned out. He literally gripped his chest and smiled and let us know that he got goosebumps seeing the results.

If you’re working on or planning to work on a similar project, have any suggestions or would just like to let us know your thoughts about this project, let us know in the comments or send us a PM. We’d love to hear from you.

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