I quizzed the chaps from the BlokeyShed forums for their tips on cleaning up old wood and their advice ranged from “don’t bother, it’s only a potting bench” to “a wire brush in a drill”. I decided on a point in the middle and after removing some loose pieces with a chisel, I cleaned up the wood with a stiff wire brush, taking care to get rid of all of the flaky old paint and green mouldy bits. I then used sugar soap and a brush to give it even more of a clean.
The BlokeyShed chaps also had some ideas for a preservative, either nothing, old engine oil, linseed oil diluted with turps or lanolin. Being based in Australia the BlokeyShed chaps also have the benefit of affordable hardwoods such as RedGum that don’t need any treatment. When I popped down the local DIY shop I found pre-mixed teak oil which seemed to be quite close to the linseed oil option.
One of the slightly concerning instructions on the bottle of teakoil was the fact that it can “self ignite“, I checked this out and there was a case of this just last year. This is much more likely in warm/dry weather but rather than take any risks I made sure that the brush I was using was cleaned thoroughly before leaving it to dry outside.
The final tip from BlokeyShed was to cut small pieces of plastic and stick them on the bottom of the feet, these effectively act like a damp proof course and protect the legs from rising damp. They made a point that you should not totally enclose the foot as that would just make a bucket for water to store in which in turn would rot the legs more quickly. I found some suitable plastic from some plastic coal sacks and glued it on with a suitable heavy duty adhesive.
The bench was delivered at the weekend in plenty of time for Mother’s day and is already in use with some propagating seedlings.