Refinishing Weathered Furniture

Weathered Bench | Restored

Stories Are Best Told From Places We’ve Sat Before

There are times when I am about to start a project, but I get stuck on the edge of a thought.

This happens when I stare at something too long and my mind wanders out to left field.

I get lost in my own curiosity and the next thing I know, I’m posing a question to the universe.

At that precise moment, this “question” becomes my purpose.

It becomes the very ground my momentum runs upon.

Rescuing a Weathered Bench

This time, I stared at this bench and asked:

“Who gets to decide when it’s time to throw in the towel?”

I mean, this bench… is IT done?

I was given the freedom to decide what to do with it, (use it for scrap or build something else)

but I couldn’t help but feel like it wasn’t really up to me.

I couldn’t envision anything else when I looked at it.

(I know!  That almost never happens to me!)

Call me crazy, but this bench was sending me a message.

This bench wasn’t done yet.

It wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.

And so it begins.

How I Rescued A Wooden BenchRefinishing Weathered Wood

First order of business was cleaning it off and taking it apart.

*Side Note:  I have found when prying old wood boards apart, there is less splitting if the wood is slightly damp.  This seems to make the wood a little “mushy” and more forgiving.  There might be some damage around the nail hole, but personally, I’d rather deal with that vs. a board splitting lengthwise.

Uh oh.

Working With Weathered WoodOld Wood

This poses a problem.  When you are playing around with furniture that’s been exposed (weathered ) to the elements,

you’re bound to find some parts that look like this.

That’s ok.  I wasn’t too worried, thanks to a neighbor who gave me a few 2×4 scraps last summer.

They were left over from a fun little roof project he did.  (Hi Chris!)

Those scraps were perfect to replace the parts of the frame that were too far gone.

Using an old piece to measure a cut.Using an old piece of wood to measure a new one.

I simply used an old piece to measure out the length I needed (and the angle of the blade),

by stacking it on top of the new 2×4.

(I know I’ve mentioned before… I can never find a tape measure!  Seriously,  t h e y  d i s s a p e a r!)

A strong frame.

This part’s pretty much self-explanatory.

Rebuilding the frame of a weathered bench

Nothing like a wobbly chair (or bench) to make you not want to sit and stay a while.

I was not totally loving the design that the designer of this bench chose, but who am I to judge?…

(I wasn’t there when it was built.)

So, I chose to stay true to that original design, and used my Kreg jig and some dowels

for reinforcement.  (I do not trust a few plain screws sometimes…)

Filling up and trimming down.

Next my attention turned to the boards that made up the back and seat part of the bench.

Some of the holes that are found in older wood are just too big to leave to your average wood filler.

Using dowels to fill in holes in old wood.

If I run into this, I use wood glue, dowels, and tooth pics to plug up the holes first, then I follow up

with wood filler.

*Side Note:  I break off the dowel in the hole, then use my Dremel Multi-Max (or Saw-Max) with a flush-cut blade to trim off the extra.  Not a planned plug for Dremel, just giving you the facts.

At that time, I also glued and clamped a few splits running length wise.

After the glue was dry, I trimmed off about 1/2″ from each end of the boards.

This did take about an inch of overall width from the bench, but it gave me nice clean ends.

Sand.  Paint.  Rotate Laundry.

Ok, so I threw in the “rotate laundry” part because I always forget to do that.

Then I gotta wash the same load again…

and oops, then again…

Back to my story…

I sanded, then painted.

I like to paint things when they are taken apart, just so I can avoid weird brush angles, drips, etc.

Painting Weathered Wood

*Side Note:  Beware of the contact points if you paint things in their taken-apart state.  If you paint where there will be contact with another painted part, this makes for sticky paint squeaking sounds every time you sit down on it.  Then everyone’s looking at you and it just draws attention to the fact that the chair/bench or whatever you sat on, was just painted.  Then the conversation you were having before you sat down becomes a  distracted one, because that sticky, paint-squeak noise is really noticeable with every movement you make.

How to rescue a weathered bench.

I used a latex gloss enamel, and the blunt edge of a metal scraper to drag along some of the edges

while the paint was still wet.  (Just to embrace a little bit of the bench’s true age.)

*Another Side Note:  If you “distress” anything with a gloss finish, don’t do it with sandpaper.  That is, unless you WANT the glossy sheen to be dulled in the places you apply said sandpaper.  (But, I will warn you that it tends to look splotchy and “on purpose” when one part is glossy, and the other part is matte…     so…      there’s that.)

And there you have it.

Before and After of a wooden bench.

A bench that wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel.

Sometimes, I guess you gotta let the project decide.

Besides, who am I to second guess…     I just work here.

Refinishing Weathered Furniture

How To Restore A Weathered Bench

View The Sign Made Out of The Chair That Goes With This


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