My neighbor got a new fence. It’s gleaming white and beautiful. He piled the old sections by the side of the road as he worked. Algae covered, some of it rotting, dirty, useless.
…but maybe not.
I sent my husband over to ask the neighbor if we could take the old fencing off his hands and he eagerly agreed, noting it was saving him a trip to the dump. Perhaps with a note of skepticism he said he would like to see what we made of it.
Fast forward maybe two weeks. We finally tackled the rotting wood surround on our 20 year old hot tub. The panels were composed of thin tongue and groove cedar planks cut at a classic early 90s diagonal, backed by rotting osb. “I’m going to use this!” I told my husband.
Want to know what became of that old fencing and even older hot tub surround?
They are now a beautiful, rustic salvage outdoor dining table and three benches. And all for $20. Am I kind of proud of that? You bet I am. Not only do we have an awesome dining set, I have the deep satisfaction of knowing I saved all of that material from going to the landfill. It is a really exciting thing to give things like this a new life.
The Salvage Process
This table is composed of the posts and long horizontal boards from the fence. I first dismantled all the pieces and made sure all of the nails were removed.
The fence slats were also denailed, then trimmed to length on the miter saw, scrubbed, run through the planer, and then finish sanded. The salvage process on these took the better part of three or so days.
The will be used for another project.
We also scrubbed the boards and posts. I have an excellent cleaning crew.
Salvaging the hot tub slats involved removing each piece from the osb backer and chipping and sanding off the osb stuck to the remaining adhesive.
Constructing the Table
I decided to add notched legs to the table for a little design flare. Just because it’s rustic doesn’t mean it can’t be awesome!
The top of the table is a chevron pattern using the tongue and groove from the hot tub slats. I cut each piece to 45 degrees (originally it was somewhere around 20 degrees). The pieces were already cut at one angle, so one side of the table had to be cut against the existing angle, which meant the board was about 1/4″ shy of being long enough. I should have realized that sooner, but with the frame already constructed I didn’t want to cut down the top any. So I compensated by offsetting the center of the design by about 1 inch. The fun part of working with salvage materials (and sans plans) is adapting to what you have.
Once the top was constructed I gave it a light sanding to smooth it. I was pleasantly surprised to see how the sanding brought out different colors in the rather ugly hot tub slats!
The slats are thin, so I had to back them with some 3/4″ plywood. I purchased a $20 piece at Lowes that worked for the table and the single long bench, which accounts for the $20 I spent building the set.
Here is the table after a long, dirty, hard day of work!
I knew I had enough material left to construct a long bench for one side of the table. After that, it was a crap shoot. I built the bench to mirror the table design, with the same notched legs and chevron patterned top.
Then I was out of 4×4 posts. I scrapped up just enough material to construct two smaller benches, coming in with about 8″ of a single 2×4 leftover and 3 sad looking cedar slats left when all was said and done.
I finished the set with some tung oil followed by spar urethane. While I wasn’t too worried about the effect of rain on materials that have been out in the elements for 20 years already, food stains are less than attractive. We put the set in our newly constructed pergola where I think it looks amazing. Ahem, if I do say so myself.
This entire set, pergola, chandelier, and dining table and benches, came to $400 to construct. It was a ton of fun, and has already been such a terrific thing to have in our backyard. It is so satisfying to construct beautiful, usable spaces for a small cost, and using so many reclaimed materials. We have relatively mild winters here in the Pacific Northwest, so we look forward to using this set nearly year round.
Thanks for reading, and happy building!