Refurbished Garden Bench--Good Hand-Tool Project for Beginners

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Project by Brett posted 07-22-2011 08:09 PM 3930 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I decided to refurbish an old garden bench that was falling apart. I repainted the iron end pieces and replaced the wood with some white oak purchased at the lumberyard. I used my table saw to cut the boards to rough dimensions, and my old Stanley hand planes to size and smooth them. (I would have used hand saws to cut the boards, but my saws are not sharp yet and I haven’t finished my saw benches).

After I finished, I realized that this was an ideal project for a beginning hand tool woodworker (like me). It requires some effort to cut and plane the boards, but not so much that it feels overwhelming. Also, since the boards do not touch each other. it doesn’t matter if one board is a little thicker than another, or if the widths are not perfectly consistent. I got some good experience jointing the edges, smoothing the faces, and rounding the edges with bench planes, as well as cutting chamfers with a block plane.

In other words, I got a lot of practice using hand tools but I didn’t have to do things perfectly to produce a nice result.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

5 comments so far

View rimfire7891's profile


123 posts in 4400 days

#1 posted 07-23-2011 02:21 AM

Hi Smile,

Good looking bench.
I’m the process of doing the same thing. Use quarter saw white oak as well. Haven’t decided what finish to put on the wood. What did you do?

Thanks jb

-- Playing with wood and metal for the last 50 years, driving and building Land Cruisers for the last 40. Experience is what you get when you don't know what you are doing.

View Brett's profile


693 posts in 4180 days

#2 posted 07-23-2011 02:39 AM

I just left the wood natural. I looked into finishes, but I saw many comments that white oak fades to a pleasant light gray and doesn’t need finishing. If I’m proved wrong, I’ll just cup up some more boards and do it again in a few years.

One tip: when you drill the holes in your boards (if your garden bench is like mine), don’t assume that all the holes in the iron end pieces are drilled accurately. Six out of the seven pairs of opposing holes were the same distance apart on mine, but one pair was about 3/8” closer together than the others and I had to modify the holes in one of my boards so it would fit.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View smitty22's profile


718 posts in 4444 days

#3 posted 07-23-2011 03:33 AM

Good job, saved a very nice piece of patio furniture. Why does this look so familiar? LoL!
Your description fits my rehab exactly, some old Stanley planes to round the edges, red oak from HD, all the boards don’t fit perfectly, but wifey was happy with the results.

-- Smitty

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3925 days

#4 posted 10-19-2011 05:44 AM

Very pretty and looks comfortable.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5170 days

#5 posted 10-23-2011 12:45 AM

Nice work!

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