Last April, I got the great idea of restoring my grandparents' picnic table and benches. The set is over 50 years old, and has been sitting out in the elements, uncovered and unmaintained for the last 15 years.

Using two sets of pliers, I loosened the rusty bolts holding the pieces together. When pliers didn't work, I switched to a hacksaw. 50+ years of dried out, unhealthy wood had to be sanded and smoothed before treating with five coats (yes, it was THAT neglected) of penetrating oil stain and putting pieces back together with new hardware.

I finished the table and one of the benches before I lost interest in the project about a month later. Here's a before and after shot -- the bench on the left is the one that didn't get restored. A month or two after I finished the table and one bench, the boyfriend and I were sitting on the unfinished bench, when it collapsed. One of the 2x4 legs had split.

I took the bench apart, decided that everything but the seat had to be replaced, sanded the seat planks and let it sit in my workshop for a year. In the meantime, the boyfriend complained about my already overly crowded workshop, aka garage and back house, which is capable of neither storing a car nor housing people because there's too much junk stuffed into it. Okay, maybe he had a point, but hey, he knew what he was getting into before he moved in with me!

A few weeks ago the boyfriend mentioned we hadn't had a party since we'd moved in together, and lucky us, barbecue season is here! I glanced out the back door, saw the picnic table with the one lonely bench, and set off on foot to the hardware store with Piglette to pick up a couple of 2x4s for fabricating new legs and supports. No, I didn't think about how heavy 2x4s are after balancing them on your shoulders for three blocks while gripping a leash with a zigzagging dog, but I made it home without dropping lumber or losing dog. A few mis-cuts and a lot of swearing later, I finished the second bench. Here's the finished set:

The legs don't exactly match, since they're pine and the original set is redwood, but they will work. I'd love to sit and admire my work a bit longer, preferably with bloody mary in hand, but the work never ends. There's still setting of pavers, weed-whacking, pruning and raking that needs to get done before the place will be in an acceptable state.