Sitting pretty

Last Fall, my brother Craig gave me a large slab of cottonwood (Populus) that I have finally had the chance to turn into a bench for the garden. It sat all Winter in the shed curing and looked great with few cracks upon inspection.

I get my belt and orbital sanders (and lots of sandpaper) to smooth out the roughness of the wood. Moving back and forth with the belt sander, I can feel the surface unevenness as the belt bounces upon and removes imperfections. It is a bit of a slog, but soon I have taken the wood and its sides down to a smooth finish.

The next step is to put down many coats—six in this case—of spar varnish to protect it from the weather. Each successive coat and light sanding creates an even smoother finish.

As this process takes a couple of days, I use a concrete form to create the legs. Mixing the concrete in hot weather, I make the mix a bit wet so it does not dry too quickly and crack. Removing one from the form, I can see that this is a good strategy.

Juana wants a back for this bench so I scavenge an old cedar (Cedrus) board from my shed and cut it to size. I then attach them to a pair of bench backrest brackets I purchased on Etsy. Juana gives the seat a try. She is pleased.

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