FROSTPROOF, Fla. - Back in 2016, Joe Yurt's wife brought home an old cast-iron bench.
"We tried to fix it up and all that," Yurt said. "That was the first bench."
It was the first bench for 'Bench Heaven,' home to J&D Cast Iron Bench Builders in Frostproof.
"I had to come up with some kind of hobby to do when I retired," Yurt explained.
That hobby includes finding old benches in many different ways including flea markets, yard sales and even the trash. While the benches vary in size, shape and quality, one thing is similar throughout.
"All I want to focus on is cast-iron benches, that's it," Yurt said. "So I ain't really looking at the wood. I'm looking at the metal itself to see if it's in good shape that I can use it, get it sandblasted, prime it and reuse it."
In his backyard workshop, he currently has 82 sets of cast-iron bench ends. He also has a variety of backs.
Recently, he was working on spray painting an animal-themed bench-back. Painting can be a time-consuming process. He explained that a different animal-themed bench-back at his shop took four and a half months of on-and-off work to paint. However, despite the time requirements, it's fun for Yurt.
"I just like getting it to come back to life,” he said. “It's like, it's dead, then I bring it back.”
What's the most fun for Yurt, the search for old benches. "Every time I see one, I got to get it," Yurt said.
Yurt showcases his for-sale benches outside of his workshop home. His benches can also be found at various local markets, including vintage market stores in Ybor City. He jokes that he'll keep finding and restoring cast-iron benches until he runs out of money.