Friday, June 6, 2014

Garden Bench

Hey yall!

So this is the project that kicked off the blog.  I'm so excited to share it with you!  This is one of my favorite projects to date.  It was a little time consuming, but could be finished in a weekend.

I want to lay out what we did and what worked well, so that if you try to tackle something similar you might have an idea of how to do it.  Since I wasn't planning on making a tutorial at the time, there may be a lack of photos for some steps, but I'll try to describe it well enough so that you can figure it out.  

There are probably a few ways to do this, but this is what worked well for us.  
Step 1: Find your chairs
There is a store nearby that I love- the Lancaster Area Habitat for Humanity Restore.  They have all sorts of home improvement items, from furniture to building materials to tools, and the best part is that it helps to fund our local Habitat for Humanity.  I saw these chairs in stock:

and loved that the backs were so curvy!  Sidenote:  They had about 30 of these when i went, and since I knew that I was going to be tearing apart, I looked for the ones that were in the worst shape, so that someone who just liked the chairs for what they were could have the nicer ones.  I would encourage you to keep in mind your end product when you are hunting for treasures.  

Step 2: Demo- Remove arms and seats.
Now, I think I got lucky with these chairs, because a few things were very easy.  First, the arms were screwed on.  There was a little wooden round button to cover the screw hole.  I chose the chair with the sturdiest right arm, and the one with the sturdiest left arm, and removed the rest.  Second, the frames underneath were relatively square.  The back was shorter than the front, but there were clear flat sides so that fit nicely together.  I'm not sure that every chair will be this friendly.  Lastly, the seats were just held on with L-brackets, which i think is typical, but like the arms, removing them was just a matter of removing a few screws.

So that gets us to here:

Step 3- Modify the chairs as needed so that they fit well together
It's hard to see in the picture above, but the legs actually meet at the rounded detail in the leg first, i.e. not on the flat part.  It was close, but those legs were just a little bit wider.  To fix this, I got out my sander with a very course sanding paper, and sanded them until the chairs would fit flat together, like this:

Step 4: Join the chairs together
So next we needed to decide how to hook the chairs together.  I had ideas of joining them at the front legs or making spacers in between the back, but my husband saw an easier way.  He suggested using some leftover 1x3's to run underneath.  Each chair is screwed into these underneath rails.  Here is a picture of them (this is the finished bench, sorry didn't take any pictures of this during the process!):
The rail is butted up against the front and back legs.  Since we painted the sides, it blends in pretty well.  We didn't actually have to hook together the backs of the chairs.  Other chairs may need this, just depending on their shape.

Next were the top pieces, and i believe we used furniture grade 1x6's for these.  We layed each one on the top, marked the sides of the chair with a pencil, and then cut them down to size.  We left a slight gap in between each board so that water can drain (if I ever get the nerve to leave this outside!). We used standard wood screws, but we pre-drilled all of the holes.  This is important when you are putting in a screw close to the edge of the wood! Finally, I filled the screw holes and sanded the whole bench.  After that was done, it looked like this:

Still kind of ugly, right?

Step 5: Paint!
Finally came the spray paint.  i bought a couple different colors, but decided on the teal.  It took 3 cans of Rustoleum spray paint in Lagoon.  My husband is an excellent spray painter, so he painted this one for me (have to give the credit where credit is due, right?).  He taught me to go in one direction (e.g. horizontal) in short sprays, overlapping about 50% each time, then going back in the other direction (vertical) for the second coat.  It took maybe two coats in each direction, especially on the seat with the bare wood. Once that is finished, I suggest using a polyurethane finish (I haven't actually finished this part yet!), which you can also get in spray cans if you like.

So, what do you think?  I love this blue with the greens of the backyard.  I ended up bringing this inside for now, and it's a little bright in the house, but still looks great.

Total time for this project was about a weekend, maybe 10-12 hours.  The cost was about $100, but will greatly depend on the cost of your chairs.

I hope this gives you a good idea of how to tackle this project, and if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!