Spring fever is rampant in my neck of the woods. I'm celebrating this weekend by sprucing up my garden area. I've been eyeing outdoor benches at my local garden center, but they're pricey. So this weekend I'm taking on an ambitious project: Susan Wasinger's cute garden bench made from recycled-plastic lumber and an old truck tire inner tube. The bench is comfortable, waterproof and should withstand the harsh Colorado sunshine that bakes my back patio.
132 inches of 2-by-2-inch plastic lumber, cut into two 12-inch pieces and two 18-inch pieces for the top and four 18-inch-long pieces for the legs (available from Bedford Technology, PlasTeak or Plastic Lumber Company )
8 2-1/2 inch screws
Car or truck tire inner tube
1. For the bench top, assemble a 12-by-18-inch rectangular frame using a carpenter’s square. Predrill the holes and screw the pieces together at the corners.
2. Attach the legs at each corner joint, using eight 2½-inch-long screws. Position screws so they don’t hit other screws as they enter the lumber. Adjust the screw position up or down to ensure a clear path. For an extra-sturdy bench, add a brace of 1-by-4-inch strips secured with screws about 6 inches down from the top of the leg.
3. To make the bench seat, use scissors to cut about 15 strips, each 2 to 3 inches wide, from the inner tube. Wash strips in hot, soapy water to remove grime.
4. Use a staple gun to tack rubber strips, all going the same direction, underneath the top frame. Double up the material under each staple by putting a small scrap of inner tube under each one. This will make it less likely to tear through the rubber. Stretch the rubber strip across the bench top until it’s very taut, and staple again to the other side.
5. Once you’ve covered the bench top with strips in one direction, begin at the corner and weave another strip up and down through the rows of strips to the other side. Stretch taut and staple. Trim any long ends of rubber.
Made with recycled-plastic lumber and an old truck tire inner tube, this bench is sturdy and comfortable. Photo by Susan Wasinger