Outdoor workbench

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    Hi all, looking for some help here. The good news is that the new workbench is well underway, top and aprons laminated and planed flat(ish), and the motic s for the leg frames are mostly done.

    The bad news is that the finished bench will need to live outside, so I was wondering if members had any experience of this and could recommend which finish would give the best protection.

    It will be under a heavy tarpaulin, and I live on the south coast of England, so not cold, but often wet! Many thanks for any help.


    Matt McGrane

    Wow Shane, that might be a challenge. But better outside than none at all. As long as the bench has a tarp over it (no major leaks in the tarp, right?), it will not get directly wet. So you might be fine with a typical oil finish. I’d give it several coats – at least three. Also, if the legs will stand on soil, you should think about propping them up on bricks or something. Otherwise they will rot fairly quickly.

    I have a table and a bench that I built from California redwood. The bench lives under a cover when not in use, but the bench is exposed. If memory serves, I oiled them. The bench over time has gotten quite weathered, but it’s holding up. Good luck.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/


    >which finish would give the best protection.

    A marine or “spar” varnish would be a good bet. Oil- based paint is also very protective

    Good luck!

    David B

    Yeah–I think varnish is probably the most durable outdoor finish but I would want to keep the bench covered as much as possible. You can also do one of those wipe on mixes with varnish, mineral spirits and an oil like BLO.


    You didn’t mention the wood you used. Some woods like redwood some cedars don’t require a heavy finishes to survive outside. You could use an oil as Matt used or a wood preservative that you use on your outside wood decks.

    The other thing you should do is to seal the bottom of the legs that contact the ground with a 5 min epoxy. Moisture can wick up and this would be the first place to rot out.

    Located in Honeoye Falls NY USA. The Finger Lakes region of Western NY.

    "If you give me 6 hours to fell a tree, I will take the first 4 to sharpen my axe" Abe Lincoln


    Thanks for taking the time to reply. As Matt says, not ideal but apparently the kitchen is no longer an appropriate place to have a workshop!
    To clarify, the bench is pine, and will stand behind a 5′ wall, hopefully protecting it from the worst of the wind. It is on a tiled patio, and I had thought to stand each leg in an empty paint pot or ice cream tub to stop rotting from the bottom up.
    Yacht varnish hadn’t occurred to me, I will definitely investigate that one, and will keep you posted.

    Thanks again for your replies

    Richard Senior

    On a slightly different note, are you using a weatherproof wood glue? If the bench is covered, it shouldn’t be a major issue, but probably a sensible precaution. Evo Stik Weatherproof glue is widely available in the UK (look out for the blue rather than green bottle) and I’ve used it successfully on outdoor projects that are left out in the rain.

    Doug Karliskint

    You may want to reconsider putting the legs in anything that could hold water. Consider instead coating the bottom and first 6 to 8 inches with black tar.

    How do you plan to protect your vice?


    Richard – that is the glue I have used, and the bench will be fully covered and strapped down when not in use. This should also cover the feet, so hopefully whatever the legs stand in won’t act as a rain trap.

    Re the vice, paint as many surfaces as I can, and keep the rest well oiled, then hope for the best!

    Dave Seamark

    If you decide to go with a marine finish I can recommend Woodskin. Did my boat 2 years ago. lovely flat finish and still looks mint. no need to sand between coats.

    I wish that what I know now, I knew when I was younger.

    Blackpool, Lancashire, England

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