One of the best things about the recycled plastic lumber business is that it’s such a new material every day is a lesson; we’re learning with and from our customers about what it can do and how it can be used. Today’s education comes courtesy of the lovely guys at Totties Garden Centre, Huddersfield. Their old timber picnic tables are on their last legs and John at Totties is a quarter of a century into his apprenticeship in metalworking, so they’ve built themselves a set of recycled plastic lumber steel frame benches.

Here’s a quick pic of their picnic area for you to drool over:

Totties picnic area

Totties picnic area

Making Connections

The interaction between construction materials is a puzzle that’s been around for as long as humans have been making things, and so of course joining steel to recycled plastic was always going to throw up some questions.

Totties picnic bench frame

Totties picnic bench frame

The main one here has been how to accommodate for the difference in how plastic expands and contracts compared to steel. A metre of recycled plastic lumber can be expected to expand by 1.5mm per metre every 10 degrees Celsius, so in the crazy summer we’re currently having we’re seeing sometimes 5mm per metre expansions.

Totties John with his table

Totties John with his table part-finished to show the design

John’s design uses 1800mm lengths of lumber, so he needed to plan for around a 10mm expansion over the length of the piece, quite a difference from timber. Of course wood expands, contracts and warps in its own way according to moisture levels and things, so it’s really just about learning how to work with what you’re using.

John’s plan for allowing for that movement has been to make his two outer bolt holes a little wider in diameter than the central one (each piece is bolted in three places). This should allow the lumber to slide outward as it lengthens slightly, meaning there will be no arching or damage, but everything will still square up because the central line of holes will make sure the pieces remain straight.

With scenery like this, you need good seating!

Totties Garden Centre looking beautiful

Totties Garden Centre in the sunshine

Totties Garden Centre

You can see from these pictures why they need picnic tables – Totties’ view must be one of the best for any garden centre in the country and people travel from far and wide to drink in the scenery. We’re looking forward to sitting on our lumber to join them.

If John’s inventiveness has inspired you to have a go at making something from recycled plastic lumber, you can find our full range here and prices here. . Totties Garden Centre’s website is here.

recycled plastic lumber steel frame bench