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My wife picked up what I expect was a beautiful garden bench at one time in it's life from a garage sale. It has metal rails on the side with and a metal inlay in the back surrounded by a wood frame, and wood slats for the bench portion of it. I suspect in it's previous life, this is how it might have looked.

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Problem is at sometime in it's life the previous owner spray painted it a sickly grey, the entire thing, metal, wood, all of it. It's pretty horrible. I can sandblast the paint off of the metal and give it a good paint job, but for the wood I'm pretty sure sandblasting would be a bad idea -- In fact based on the fact that it was painted, I probably just want to replace the wood. I can rip wood and do various fancy cuts in straight lines for the bench seat, but unfortunately, the top of the back rest is curved. What is the best way to duplicate the curve of the existing piece I have?

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    You can media-blast wood. Depending on the species it can work very well as long as you don't get the nozzle too close and it's very likely this is made from a hardwood that would stand up to the process very well. You can also remove paint from wood using chemical strippers, a heat gun and paint scrapers or by scraping with card scrapers or a cabinet scraper. – Graphus Apr 24 '17 at 19:44
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Trace the outline of the old piece onto a new piece of wood. First use a Jigsaw (or bandsaw if you have access to one) to get close to the line. Then clamp the two pieces together with the original on the bottom and use a router with a bearing-guided flush-trim bit to exactly copy the original. (Note that you'll want to use 3+ clamps so you can reposition them when you get to that area with the router.)

Optional: The roundover on the top of the original (in this photo, at least) would make running a bearing against it a little more difficult, so you may want to make a template out of 1/4" hardboard instead. To make a template trace and jigsaw as above, but do final shaping with coarse sandpaper glued to a flexible piece of material. The template will provide a better surface for the router bit's bearing to ride on than the roundover of the original.

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    Tracing from the original part is obviously the way to go here. Once it comes to the routing stage though no need to rely on clamps, you can attach the template to the wood directly using the masking tape + superglue trick. – Graphus Apr 24 '17 at 19:48
  • I use turner's tape for smaller things, personally. But for something as big as this I'd just use clamps. There's a lot of ways to skin a cat! – SaSSafraS1232 Apr 24 '17 at 20:36
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    Yes of course numerous ways to go about this (as with many things) but taping is clearly the superior option for a range of practical reasons. Also works out far cheaper for anyone who doesn't already have three or more clamps of the type that would be required. – Graphus Apr 25 '17 at 6:53

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