I took my bike out for a short spin and on my way home, I spied a piece of furniture by the road that hadn’t been there on the way out. At a distance I thought it was a wood chair, which I wasn’t too excited about – wood chairs, broken and not, turn up a lot.
As I drew closer and got a clearer look, I grew more interested. A bench! Ohhh, benches I like. Now, I knew if I wanted it, I’d have to take it right then and there. I have learned my lesson. If you find something you want in a spot 15 miles due East from the Last End of the Earth with no signs of human activity or habitation in sight, and tell yourself, “I’ll come back and get that later,” and go on your (naive) merry way without it, I’ll be damned if when you return, that thing will be GONE, even if prairie dogs and rattlesnakes had to drag it off to their dirt homes.
I took a cursory look at the bench and this not being my first rodeo, knew the best option was to get it onto the bike and walk it home from there. I easily picked it up and balanced it on the seat and handlebars (watch and learn kids!). Just as I’d done that a man came biking behind me and said,
I easily walked the bike/bench the short distance home. Once I got in there, I saw it had a few issues, ones that might have made me disinclined to take it had I noticed them earlier. The front left leg was broken near where it attached to the bottom of the seat, and not cleanly either. A spoke came apart. The seat was unbalanced too, even with a clearly homemade “peg leg” addition to the right front leg. The dull black surface looked like it had been painted with tar.
Although the bench seemed old – both from the state of the wood and techniques used in its design – it did not cry out “valuable antique.” Old but poor workmanship are an odd combination. Plus features: the arms “scroll” under at their ends, the legs taper at their tops and actually go up through holes in the bench seat, the two long slats on the bottom sit in cut-outs in the legs, and each of the nine back spindles taper to a surprisingly skinny and more surprisingly, unbroken 1.5″ diameter.
On the not-so-plus side in addition to the flaws already noted: one armrest visibly turns out and the other turns in, sloppy-looking screws attach the arm rests to the back and seat, the wood is cracking in spots on the seat, and that seat at a depth of 13.5″ is very shallow for sitting. The bench would offer a few challenges, but this is the kind of project I really enjoy. I get to be analytical – solving the problems – and I get to be creative – making it purty.
First, I used Shoe Goo, the best glue I had on hand to connect the spoke that came apart and more importantly, reattach the leg to the seat. I pried off the homemade leg additions and pulled out a host of odd nails. I used a white plastic bottle cap to prop up the right front leg. Then I put on a coat of primer; I had just enough left in a can to eke out the job.
I knew I wanted red and just two days earlier, someone I’d received Freecycle paint from last winter, offered me a quart of “Cabernet Red” which I was delighted to have. Once I started, I thought having the legs and back spindles white would make it more interesting than solid red.