If you’re like a lot of kids, you probably grew up with the classic Radio Flyer red wagon, the little metal wagons you could load up with toys, treasures, or even slightly smaller playmates, and pull around on your explorations.
But as we get older, sometimes it seems like those childhood favorites get lost and forgotten somewhere along the way. When they’re found again, sometimes many years later, they’re faded and worn, but they still bring a smile to our faces.
And for people who love to make, and make over, they’re also great starting points for some amazing projects.
Instructables user AmateurHour (his real name is Joe Peters) felt that way when he came across a little red wagon waiting patiently outside a friend’s house.
It was chipped and rusty, and in need of some serious love. Unlike another crafter who brought a 1940s pedal car back to its former glory, though, Peters wanted to turn the wagon into something he could really use.
So he opted to turn it into a fully functional bench, complete with storage space, and using mostly reclaimed and recycled materials.
Check out how he did it below, and see what happens when a little red wagon grows up.
When he first saw the little red wagon sitting outside a friend’s house, Joe Peters didn’t think it was much to look at.
“The wagon had a lot of old and chipped paint and quite a few rust spots,” he said.
The first step was to strip away all the old paint and to remove the wheels, which would not be used.
Then, Peters attached strips of wood, called furring strips, to the inside of the wagon. These would hold up the bench top.
He used a recycled pallet to create the bench itself, carefully creating the rounded rectangle shape that would fit just inside the wagon and on top of the furring strips.
Some clamps helped hold everything together.
Then it was back to the wagon itself. With the furring strips in place and the paint gone, it was time to attach the leg plates.
These would hold on the bench legs Peters had bought in place and make the bench sturdy.
The bench top was then coated with polyurethane. Peters opted not to stain this part, so the natural grains of the wood were allowed to show through.
He did opt to stain the legs a very dark brown, though.
Naturally, the wagon was painted red, an homage to its original color and to childhood favorites everywhere.
Peters purchased the legs at a store, but he says that they could also be salvaged from an old table or stand. The dark color of the stain stands out nicely against the red of the wagon.
They also remind us of the original black axles of the classic red wagons.
And then it was done!
Just like the dark legs remind us of the black axles, the lighter wood top is reminiscent of the wood panels that came on some models. It’s like a grown-up version of a childhood favorite!
Oh, and the bench top comes off, so the wagon can be used for storage. So not only is it adorable, but it’s also functional!
You can see more of Peters’ crafts on Instructables, as well as on Instagram.
And if you know someone who loves childhood classics but would like a grownup spin, SHARE this clever makeover with them!