I have gotten a lot of inquires from people wanting to buy replacement slats. If you would rather buy them instead of building your own, check out my friend Bryan: Atkins and Sons park bench slats. Anyone interested in building your own, please continue reading.
My parents have three park benches like this one pictured above. After 15 years or so, they have started falling apart. I made a set of replacement slats last year, for one of the benches, and I decided to make another two sets as a father’s day gift, this year.
I got a pile of 2-3/8″ white oak, hardwood flooring blanks from Alex at Vintage Lumber. They were perfectly straight, and just slightly larger than I needed. I cut the 8′ long pieces down to 4′ long and ripped them down till they were about 1/16″ over sized.
I stacked them together and ran them through the planer, on edge, about six at a time. This jointed them down to size.
Next, I rolled them onto their faces to plane them down to the desired dimension in the other direction.
The last time I made these, I built a simple jig that I could clamp to my drill press. It allowed me to hold each slat centered under the drill at my desired dimension from the edge.
After I drilled the through hole on both ends of each board, I created a counter-bore with a 1/2″ forstner bit, set to drill down about 3/16″ so the screw head will be below the surface of the seat.
These benches have nine 2-1/8″ slats and three 1-3/8″ slats. The smaller ones go into the inside curve at the back of the bench. I made my jig wide enough that I could add a spot for the narrower boards as well. I quickly repeated the drilling process on the smaller boards as well.
With all the drilling done, I wanted to smooth over the corners. The original bench had a small radius on each corner so the slat didn’t have any sharp edges. I put a 3/8″ radius on my slats. I like the bigger radius. It seems to do a better job of avoiding splintering. I set the round-over bit up in my router table, and set the feather boards. I ran all four of the long sides through. there was no need to do the short sides. I want more strength near the screw holes.
When all the edges were rounded, I set up my buff sander in my drill press, and ran through any boards that needed any additional smoothing. I will leave it up to my dad to select a finish, I much prefer doing the grunt work instead…