During the Pandemic many of us experienced “first times” quite a few times. Everything was different, especially our daily routine of working and attending school from home. Even if you were used to working from home, it was different because everyone else was home too! “Home” was redefined as it became the hair salon…my teenage daughter cut her own hair for the first time! It was the gym, thank goodness for online yoga. We even attended Church at home, no more eating out meant trying new recipes at home. We even found ourselves watching the occasional game show…together!
We are very grateful for our home, and as comfortable as it is, during the pandemic we were starting to feel just a bit too together. Sometimes you just need a “spot” to go and be in your own thoughts for a while. Or, a place to work through a puzzling project, focus on something you’re reading, pray, or just listen to the birds and watch the squirrels chase each other. A place just like our backyard woodland garden! But first, we need to restore our iron garden bench. Then, we’ll need a secluded flagstone sitting area on which to set the bench. So, now we have our next two projects!
Restoring An Heirloom Cast Iron Garden Bench
We begin this 2-stage project by restoring the iron garden bench. Many years ago this classic iron bench was a gift to me from my Dad. It has always gotten a lot of use and is currently in bad shape. So bad that it’s probably not very safe to sit on even though we still do…carefully. That’s about to change as it’s getting a makeover and a new location. It’s going to be the shining star of our Woodland Garden.
Removing Rotted Wood From Our Garden Bench
As you can see, all of the wood slats on our bench are in very bad condition.
Every board had to come off the frame. Quite a few of the slats either fell off or easily pulled off the bench. However, several boards on the back of the seat were securely bolted in place. In order to remove these slats, the bolts needed to be removed.
We were hoping that a generous application of WD40 would loosen the rusted bolts enough to release them. That plan worked well and the remaining the bolts, nuts, and washers were removed from the bench.
Sanding And Painting The Iron Frame
The bench, at this point is completely disassembled. There are two pieces of iron frame and a pile of mostly rotten wood. I’m definitely keeping the wood as it could become a rustic background for a piece of garden art, like the way we used our old shutters, on our screened porch. In spite of its age, the bench’s iron frame was in very good condition. There were only a couple of rust spots that required sanding. Then, after a good cleaning I spray-painted it with an Interior/Exterior Black Flat Enamel spray paint.
Preparing Wood For The Bench
We chose a light colored, untreated European Pine for the bench seat. We purchased 6-inch wide wood planks and had them precut to the length we needed. Then we cut each board into three 2-inch slats to be used for the bench seat and back.
Next, going from the top back of the bench we numbered each slat and then pencil marked on both ends exactly where the hole should be drilled for the bolt. We needed to do this step because the holes for the bolts were not standardized in the sides of the iron bench frame. Additionally, we wanted the slats to fit tightly to avoid any wobble in the bench. We are also hoping that a tight fit between the cast iron frame and the wood will minimize rainwater pooling.
To assure the bench was comfortable, with no sharp or splintered edges, we sanded the top edges of the slats on the bench seat. Finally, we applied the sealant to protect the wood. The semi-transparent stain/sealant gave the wood a warm color without hiding the grain of the wood.
Assembling Our Antique Iron Garden Bench
We are finishing the bench project and are excited to see it coming back together. It has a new solid, and safe seat. The light color stain shows the grain and the various tones of the wood. We like the black color we chose for the iron. It really has a fresh look.
The one last step was to connect the metal support straps underneath the bench. This secures the structure and offers added safety.
Restored Heirloom Cast Iron Garden Bench
We’re thrilled to have our bench back, and we’re not afraid to sit on it! The next step is to create our flagstone “Corner of Solitude” in our woodland garden where we can enjoy the bench as well as the calm, natural surroundings.