I got tired, so I built a bench

This afternoon I worked on pruning away some low hanging branches on the Chinese elm by the chain link fence. We’ve pruned these a few times over the past few years, but they fill in again so quickly! It had gotten to the point that some branches were overhanging our “parking lot” – which meant they were also starting to shade the tomatoes we have planted against the chain link fence too much.

Thankfully, we have a really good, really long, extended pruning saw! Once I got the biggest branch down, it uncovered a bunch of dead branches that I took down as well. The branches were big enough that I had to break them down before I could haul them to the branch pile for chipping. I also used the loppers to cut away a whole lot of new little branches that were low enough to snag on my hat every time I walked by!

While it wasn’t an exceptionally hot day today, it was still hot enough to make the job less than pleasant. What I found myself really wanting to do was be able to just sit down in the shade every now and then. There’s nowhere to sit in that side of the yard. So, when I was done cleaning up the branches, I decided to go into the barn and see what I could find to build something.

This is what I came out with. Three pieces of scrap wood.

They’ve been in the barn for a long time, so I hosed them down and gave them a scrubbing to get the worst of the dust and dirt off.

I had only a general idea in mind of how I wanted to build this. There’s one 10 inch wide board for the seat, and a 2×4 for the legs – and it’s actually a true 2×4; I was wondering why these boards seemed bigger than the usual 2x4s you get from the lumber yard. Those are cut to 2×4, then shrink while curing, so they’re actually 1 1/2 x 3 1/2. The third board, with the white paint on it, is that kind of 2×4, and you can see the difference in size in the picture. I added that board for structural support.

For the legs, after cutting off the rotten end of the board, I was able to cut four pieces at 20 inches long. That left a slightly shorter piece that I used for a centre support. I then cut six 9 inch pieces for cross pieces and structural support. The legs for the ends were joined with the cross pieces at what will be the top of the legs. For the slightly shorter centre leg, I lined it up with the others and added the cross piece so that they all matched in height.

Normally, I would have used screws for this, but I didn’t want to fight with our drill, so I dug up a bucket of nails we found while cleaning out the house that were long enough.

Then I flipped them around and added more cross pieces to the pairs of legs, to make sure they wouldn’t wiggle out of place. For the support leg in the middle, I added another cross piece to support the seat. The board had a section of tree bark on it and was rounded, so I could only manage two nails on one side. Not as strong as I would have liked, but it should hold.

Then it was time to add the seat. Which was a pain in the butt. I don’t have any clamps. The bench pieces were laid out on its side, and I had to support the leg pieces with my legs while I nailed the seat in place. Since the legs are an inch narrower than the seat itself, I also had to hold the leg pieces up half an inch at the same time. It actually worked far better than I expected! 😄

Once I had a single nail in each leg, I could lift the bench up off its side, and do the rest of the nailing.

I had company.

The big black and white kitten came back to see what I was doing!

It is so very cute!

There we have it! The bench is done!

It’s actually a bit of a mess. I was using a hand saw or the mini-chainsaw to make my cuts, and they are far from straight or tidy. I’m sure the lengths aren’t exact, either. But then, it’s also going to be sitting on uneven ground, so it really doesn’t make much of a difference. Once the legs are settled into the softer ground, it’ll work itself out. In fact, it seemed just fine when I tested it out and sat in the shade for a while.

The seat hadn’t completely dried out from being washed, though! 😂

I should probably add some angled pieces under the seat to prevent any wobble, but between the cross pieces under the seat and the centre support, it’s pretty sturdy. With the legs at 20 inches, plus the thickness of the seat, the bench is slightly higher than typical, which makes it much better on my wrecked knees. Setting it up against the log border of this bed means that I can use the log as a foot rest, too.

All we need to do now is pick up some more paint. We’ve got the tree stump bench near the garden that needs to be painted, too.

So far, we’ve got the picnic table in a bright, almost peacock blue, and the kibble house is a bright yellow. The inside of the outhouse is a pale mint.

What colour do you think I should paint the benches? Should we go with something bright again? Or more subtle? I find myself thinking a deep red would be nice. Or maybe a green similar to the lilac bushes beside it?

Any suggestions?

The Re-Farmer

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