We had a lovely entry porch at our rental house in California. It was long and cool when walking out of the dessert sun and it just begged for a long bench or seat. Well I ran across this pew one day at a garage sale and snapped it up as quick as I could. The finish was completely gone with gum and stuff written on it plus some structural issues and a botched shortening on one end but I knew it would be great.

I set about sanding off all the old finish so I could see what was underneath. It was beautiful redwood but the finish and the abuse made it a big task to sand down to the point where I had something clean and good to work with again.

I eventually saw that this was going to take forever and gave up on the sanding. It wasn't going to be perfect highly polished piece so I decided to step up the stripping game a notch and use a wire wheel. That made things go much quicker. I had the structural issues fixed up with glue and screws in no time then carried on with the stripping.

Unlike sanding which can be used to create a flat surface the wire wheel preferentially wears away the softer part of the wood and leaves the harder elements of the grain standing proud. I knew this going in and kind of liked the result

You can also notice that I plugged the screw holes with some dowel. I didn't care if the color match was perfect, I just didn't want screw heads to be visible.

Instead of going for a urethane or some other finish that would sit on top of the wood I opted to coat the bench in a polymerizing oil that would penetrate and gradually fade and wear more like unfinished wood with use.

It turned out great in my opinion and we loved it. It was perfect for the porch and we should have left it there when we moved back to Texas.

We liked it too much to leave it though and brought it with us. Unfortunately this is where things took a sad turn. We didn't have any place to put it that wasn't exposed to the elements at either our first rental house or the next house we purchased. So it sat out in the wet College Station weather for years and deteriorated rapidly. We no longer have it and letting that piece of furniture rot away unprotected instead of leaving it in California is a great regret of mine.