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Gabion wall bench seats

Home Improvement Guru
Home Improvement Guru


Recycled timber used as bench seats on top of garden gabion baskets.



The project


I put in some low gabion cages when I re-landscaped my front yard. My intention was to put timber on the top to form some bench seats and also to delineate the path and the garden area.




I had been playing over in my head how to "hide" the screws that I would need to use so as to attach the timber to the cage lid and also how to attach the timber lid to the base cage. Eventually, I came back to the original idea which was to open up the cage, remove some rocks and place some strips of timber to be able to drill through to. My main concern doing it this way was how to close the cage again. It was easy to undo the corkscrews, but it was hard redoing the corkscrews as I hadn't allowed for the minimal spacing that I ended up with.




Step 1


I had finally gotten to the pile of old hardwood timber I had collected and purchased from a recycling yard. I was going to use Merbau but my dollars are being saved for the patio handrails, so I thought, "Why not give it a go?" I'm happy to say it worked beautifully.


Cutting the timber after removing nails from the old timber. Removing the nails was a pain. I made sure I used timber strips - 100mm timber, 20mm timber strip, 100mm and 100mm strips on both seats so they would match. 


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Spot the odd one out. Shows that you should not do things when you are tired and it's the end of the day.


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The width of the basket was about the same as three pieces of timber (300mm). So, I included a "spacer" that was an old rafting strut. It added 20mm to the width and was perfect.




Laying out the timber to make sure I had cut it properly.


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I screwed two pieces across the four pieces. This is what I used to keep them all in line. Taking off the lid was easy as it was just unwinding the wire screws.


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Then I screwed through another piece of timber, through the mesh to lock it to the cage's lid. I removed a few rocks to make space for the timber strip of Merbau on the underside of the cage lid.


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I had planed the timber before I attached it to the lid. I gave it a bevelled edge as well. For the small cage, the screws went back in easily.


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Step 2


It was the large cage's turn now. I was more concerned about removing the corkscrews, as the cage may want to splay outwards. That didn't really happen but the small distance between the timber underside and the rocks inside made it hard to wind the spirals back on. They would hit the rocks within the cage and not want to turn.


The Bunnings guy told me about rolling the timber screw in soap before screwing into the pre-drilled hole. Makes life so much easier. I used my decking screws to attach the base plate to the four-piece lid and then more decking screws to attach the timber to the lid with the mesh in between.


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I used four pieces this time as I didn't want any flex. Not that old hardwood will flex a lot, lol.


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Planed the edge.


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Lining it up. Really happy with the look as is.


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After planing. I love my electric planer. It really works a dream. Before I planed, I made sure all nails were gone or punched down further into the timber. I used a small end of a bolt to punch down.


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Attaching the base strips, also removing the stones where the timber strips would rest.


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The ratchet straps are what I use to bring the side of the cage towards the top of the cage.


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There was a fairly big gap, and man, it was painful to do. Too full of rocks and too tight a spiral made life difficult.


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Step 3


The gap was larger than I expected and by all rights, I should have removed some of the rocks alongside the edge that would require the corkscrews. I made it in the end, but consistency in the spiral would have made it easier. The next step was to oil them.


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They really bring the area together. And yes, I was stirred by my friends about my many weeds, lol.


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The timber had beautiful colours. With the extra spacer in the lid, it worked well.




Normally the spirals would look a lot tidier, but the physical space I had left and not removing some rocks made the job harder to wind them back on. In the end, I went for a shorter spiral length but more of them.


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The planed timber made it shine.




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Step 4


The last step was to oil the timbers. I remember seeing some timber oil under the house. I thought I'd have a look and sure enough had around half a can.


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The timber drank the oil, though not as much as the non-planed timber for the table setting. It really didn't take long to oil the timber, though I did not do the underside of it.


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It came up really nice and I did two coats. 


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All done, and they turned out a treat. 




Tool and materials


Materials used in the project:



Tools used in the project:



Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Wow, @Dave-1! Those look sensational. I have to admit I am a huge fan of the look you can achieve with recycled timber. The rustic timber and gabion wall work so well together; they have wonderful aesthetics. It makes me want to give something similar a go.


Well done.




Home Improvement Guru

Afternoon @MitchellMc 

Thank you :smile: I really like the look, there is something about timber and stone that works. I sometimes wonder if I have "too many" gabions around the yard, you know when something looks dated or overused? I dont think you can as they really blend in! :smile: The timber is about due for another coat of oil so thats on my list.


I am working on another gabion wall at the moment, this one will have gabion steps with the same timber tops as these benches. Ive been trying to nut out cage height plus timber height so that it equals a steps heigh and depth.



Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hi @Dave-1 


You can never have too many gabions around the house! These structures you've built are long lasting and require minimal upkeep. That recycled timber looks fantastic, if I had my own property, I would probably have built my own gabion seat and fence.




Home Improvement Guru

Thank you @EricL  :smile:

Truth be told I go around and have a look at the cages every now and then to see if any movement has occurred with time :smile: And they pretty much havnt :smile: The only instance I have of one part of a cage dropping an inch ish in 2 years is where I had dug a trench for the stormwater and then backfilled it, I should have tamped the soil under the cage in stages as I built it up. Even so an inch or two is nothing, best part is I can always empty and reuse. 


As for the recyled timber, it may look brey when I grabbed it but the colours just underneath :smile: Beautiful!



Kind of a Big Deal

Looks brilliant Dave! @Dave-1 

They're (planks) held in place with the gabion wire?

Home Improvement Guru

Morning @Noyade

They are ex hardwood framing timber, think 2" by 3" (its raining today and I am crook so being wise and not running out to meausure them lol)

I Was trying to figure out how to attach the timber to the lid without screwheads showing up, mainly for asthetics and its no fun lying down on a bench and headbutting a bolt :smile:


I removed four sections of the rocks in the cage by about 30mm and then lined up the short lenghts of decking merbau with the hardwood framing timber. Think of the merbau like a large washer and screwed from the underside through the timber merbau, then mesh and into the framing timber. Then I had to "close the lid" And that was a pit of a pain, I should have maybe had merbau, mesh, merbau and then framing timber to give that extra space to turn the spirals. Or gone with shorter spirals so each would turn easier.


I will be doing the same again for some steps I am going to have a go at making. Will try and take some photos of hgow thyey go together. Yeah should do a video but editing it and retaking to shgow each step would extend the time of the job hugely :smile: I still think of doing it tho.


The timber dosnt flex or move as the spirals have locked everything together.



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