This Bench Rocks:
Assemble your own gabion bench! Traditionally used for erosion control on sloping land, gabions are cages filled with rocks. They create a look that is both industrial and natural when used in landscaping, where they are often used for walls and terracing. Why not go further and use them as the building blocks for some unusual garden accessories, such as benches, tables or even a water feature? We show you how easy it is to build a bench with gabions – if you want a more rustic feel, substitute the stones with treated logs, placed parallel with the width of the gabions.
For the gabions:
50.8 x 50.8 x 5 mm sheets of galvanised welded square-mesh wire, to accommodate the dimensions below
Wire mesh cutting list:
Bases and front bottoms – 4 x 460 x 460 mm (or count 9 x 9 mesh squares to get these measurements for each piece)
Front tops and lids – 4 x 153 x 460 mm (or count 3 x 9 mesh squares to get these measurements for each piece)
Back lids – 2 x 305 x 460 mm (or count 6 x 9 mesh squares to get these measurements for each piece)
Backs and 4 x L-shaped sides- 6 x 460 x 610 mm (or count 9 x 12 mesh squares to get these measurements for each piece)
Gabion filler material:
10 bags of large river stones
12 large rocks
For the bench boards
3 x 48 x 100 x 2400 mm CCA-treated pine planks
48 x 60 mm square-head screws
Tape measure, combination square, pencil, cordless screwdriver and square head attachment, hand saw, paint brush, sanding block, jack plane, wire tacker and hog rings, bolt cutter.
1: Using a bolt cutter, cut the wire according to the given measurements. Each gabion is composed of eight pieces (see figure a). Then take four of the large pieces and cut out 3 x 3 mesh squares (153 x 153 mm) from one corner of each piece, to create the L-shaped sides of each gabion.
2: Assemble the gabion, as shown in figure a, using the fence and wire tacker to attach the hog rings that will join the pieces. Attach the two top ‘lids’ of each gabion last, leaving them untied on three sides so you can open them later to fill the gabions with stones.
3: Now take the CCA-treated planks and measure them up for the bench seat. You need three support planks cut to lengths of 460 mm each, and four seat planks
cut to lengths of 1000 mm each. Use the combination square to mark 900 angle cutting guidelines at each point you have measured and then cut them with the hand saw.
4: Adjust the marking gauge to 20 mm and score lines along the top sides of each of the seat planks.
5: Plane off the sharp corners outside the scored lines on the top edges of the seat planks, using a jack plane.
6: Assemble the bench by attaching the support planks to the underside of the seat planks. The two outside support planks should be 153 mm in from each end (to allow the seat planks later to rest snugly on the cut-out L-shaped recesses on the gabions). Place the third one in the middle to secure the centre of the seat planks. Use four screws per join.
7: Place the gabions in situ in the garden, parallel to each other and 694 mm apart. Fill them with stones. Top tip: Fill the centre with inexpensive large rocks and place the higher-quality stone around the visible edges.
8: Close and secure the two lids on each gabion with hog rings.
9: Place the seat in position between the gabions. The seat rests on top of the L-shaped recesses, with the outside support planks fitting snugly against the inside edge of the gabions.
10: Finally, seal the wood of your bench on all sides. Once dry, apply two more coats to ensure protection from wet weather.