Bench Repair (Part 4)

With the seat assembled and the bulk of the work on this repair job complete (ignoring the other seat, which suffered a similar fate to the first one, very recently), the last step before finishing was to create two new rails that would allow me to attach this new seat to the legs of the existing frame.

I didn’t have enough meranti left to do this but, I did have some iroko which is, in all fairness, likely to outlast the rest of the entire bench structure, if left untreated over the next few years! I used one of the original rails as a template to directly mark all the significant features on to the new wood (length, hole locations, mortise positions and the radiused ends).

After that initial step in setting and marking out, I got on with the easiest bit next – drilling the holes! 😀

Each hole will receive a threaded insert. These inserts feature prominently throughout the design of this item of garden furniture, as they do in many others produced on a large scale. They allow the components to be packed, shipped, delivered and stored in a knock-down style. They’re very simple to assemble and break down yet, they joints are reassuringly strong.

I tried to make the job even neater by drilling a shallow hole for the ‘head’ of these inserts, 12mm in diameter. But, all that did was encourage me to overtighten the fittings later, which (in one solo case) resulted in the top ring shearing off as the insert bit in to the timber! 😳

Before cutting the waste away at each end, I set my router up with a 5/16in straight cutter and, using the side fence, cut the mortises. I really couldn’t be bothered with the hassle involved with resetting the fence on my otherwise excellent mortiser, for four mortises on all of two rails; all of which were only 12mm deep anyway. This worked well but, I still could’ve done with a little extra length (for fence support) on the ends nearest to the camera.

When I set the fence on my router though, I didn’t allow for the width of the shoulders on each of the front and back rails; meaning that all four of my mortises had been cut 6mm too close to the edge of these new rails! There was nothing else for it – I had to plug these voids with scraps of meranti (I didn’t have any more iroko) and re-cut them correctly later on, once the adhesive had cured.

Eventually, I was then able to round off each end of the side rails and, I even found that, using the holes I’d drilled earlier, I was able to use my finger as a kind of ‘pivot point‘, which helped to create some very smooth and consistent curves.

It all went together well in the end and I’m now at the stage where I need to think about finishing this chair, before I expose to the elements… Well, actually, I need to look at sourcing some more meranti so that I can replace the other seat, first! Sadly, that’ll have to come at a cost though, where everything so far in this project has been free (excluding the hours spent).

Currently, I’m leaning towards a teak oil of some kind, which is what I’ve used in the past. The entire bench will probably need a good cleaning first, though. I used a cheap brand of teak oil last time on this bench but, looking at the very first photo in this series, it didn’t last very well after only two-years. Yet, on another bench situated in a slightly more shaded part of the garden, the finish still looks superb with no signs of moss or mould.

One suggestion from the forums came in the form of the hugely-impressive formulas available from Teak’ll have to give it some thought but, it immediately looks more expensive that many of the other options available…

Thanks for reading.

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