Restoring a hardwood bench

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I have a bench which has metal ends and hardwood planks joining them. The wood has got into a state with the varnish badly peeling but the wood still seems sound, it hasn't rotted and is still strong.

I plan to sand of the varnish so the wood is nice and clean. I wonder if I would be best to then varnish it, or stain it. Is it purely a matter of taste or are there differences in durability/protection to be aware of?
 
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I've restored two benches like this. One had missing slats, so I bought some oak replacements. The slats on the other were OK, so I belt sanded them and oiled them. Any sort of varnish or surface protection is going to peel over time, and in my opinion oil is better on hard wood.

I used a tinted Osmo oil that I had left over from renovating some cedar cladding, but any oil designed for hardwood would do.

It's worth cleaning up the cast iron ends and re-painting them. If they're covered in rust and flaky paint, then finding a local shot blaster is a good way to save time and aggravation.

Cheers
Richard
 
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Thanks.

I've started sanding it down though I only have a palm/mouse sander which should be big enough for one bench. It's fairly slow sanding the wood down though, I thought it would rip the old varnish off in a jiffy... I'm wondering what the right grade sandpaper should be? I was using 80 which seems very coarse - but I'm used to working with fibreglass or little school woodwork projects - would 40 be better for quickly cleaning the wood up?

I'm going to try sanding the metal ends myself - the sander comes with a detail 'finger' attachment. It's as much about doing it myself and learning as it is about the bench; the time it's taking I could've worked enough to buy a new bench anyway :)
 
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Coarser wouldn't hurt (you can always finish off with finer if you don't like the result).

I'd consider whether now is the time to treat yourself to a belt sander. A belt sander will rip through it in no time. Tools for the job ;)

Cheers
Richard
 
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A decent sander would cost as much as a nice bench - if I thought I'd use it on DIY I'd have got a proper one but I don't really see me needing to sand anything else so sadly I can't justify it. Borrowing one might've made more sense but I'm 1/2 way through now anyway. I'll try 40 and see if that speeds it up.
 
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A decent sander would cost as much as a nice bench - if I thought I'd use it on DIY I'd have got a proper one but I don't really see me needing to sand anything else so sadly I can't justify it. Borrowing one might've made more sense but I'm 1/2 way through now anyway. I'll try 40 and see if that speeds it up.

To be honest, you'd probably make quicker progress with one of these:

http://www.screwfix.com/p/aluminium-hand-sander-240-x-84mm/12688

and some elbow grease, and someone to make you cups of tea while you do it.

Cheers
Richard
 
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Might be handy. I usually find a lump of wood on the rare times I have something to sand but a proper grip would be nice.
 
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