Iowa Cucumber Garden Bench ... reconditioned

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Project by Dan'um Style posted 07-31-2009 09:33 AM 2849 views 3 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello !

Made this bench in 1994 when we lived in Milwaukee.

It was one of my first projects.

I made it with hand tools in the basement garage of a townhouse we were renting.

Pine came from a 84 lumber store.

We used it as a piece of indoor furniture for a while. It matched a lamp I made.

It is painted hunter green on the bottom and was originally stained with General finishes honey maple on the top with spar varnish and paste wax.

It has spent the last ten years sitting on porches working as a place to groceries or packages next to the front door etc.. Every time it rained it would get wet, but not soaked. Surprised at how well it has held up.

Posting this project as sort-of-a blog because, rather then submitting it as an old piece, figured I’d recondition it and post a photo slide show of work in progression. I like taking photos so there are 43 in the slide show.

No nails, screws or metal fasteners were used in construction.
All walnut pegged construction … 1/4 and 3/8 dowels with Titebond glue ….
It was called a garden cucumber bench because one could sit on it and reach down real far, even rock it , tipping it up on edge while in a garden. Good for weeding and picken’ Very strong design for big Iowa farm people. I think the design has a AMISH origin. We lived near an offshoot from the Amana colonies.

Original finish was well worn, past protecting anything.

First I sanded the dirt and crap from the top board to 80, 120 and then 180 grit making sure not to sand thru the existing patina too much.

Just for fun I applied dark golden dye on the top board and then I put a coat of jazzed up minwax mahogany oil stain all over the piece, top to bottom, inside and oustside I wet sanded the oil stain into the top with beartex and wiped everything off with red rags.

with Japanese dryer the finish dried very fast in front of a fan.

Next I used up a half-a-can of spray on SPAR varnish. Multiple coats especially on top.

When this dried I beartex’d in multiple coats of dark wax on the top board …. just for fun.

Back to the front porch ! Better then new.

slides are in progressive order ..


-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

8 comments so far

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3527 days

#1 posted 07-31-2009 11:13 AM

Looking good, Dan. Isn’t it fun to revisit an early effort? To see some things that are surprisingly “Right”, maybe others that you might do differently, but either way, remembering the thoughts and progression of steps of the original process?
I like this style of bench, maybe because my Dad made several similar ones over the years going all the way back to HIS High School shop class in the 1940’s. They’re all still around, here and there…
Oh, time to go to work!! Friday is my Monday…

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4325 days

#2 posted 07-31-2009 12:17 PM

Very nice Dan!

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4272 days

#3 posted 07-31-2009 03:30 PM

Cool Dan. Can I borrow it for the bench contest, I’ll give it right back.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Grumpy's profile


23997 posts in 3876 days

#4 posted 08-01-2009 12:35 AM

Dan, that looks like a solid bench. I think it’s in better condition than I am. LOL

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4008 days

#5 posted 08-01-2009 02:08 AM


-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View grampata's profile


74 posts in 3768 days

#6 posted 08-01-2009 03:10 AM

dan you came a long way ! you are still my hero. back in the 9os i used hunter green / flat, on fixer uppers

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3602 days

#7 posted 08-01-2009 04:08 AM

good Job

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View bglinkster's profile


4 posts in 1599 days

#8 posted 02-03-2014 06:05 PM

Nice, made simple for a reason.

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