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 Post subject: Outdoor Furniture
PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 4:07 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 01, 2017 10:00 am
Posts: 3
Location: Saline
Planning my first venture into outdoor furniture with some Adirondack Chairs and I'm trying to figure out what wood to use. I plan to make several chairs of the same design, so I will make some templates and rout the pieces to match the template.

I want something durable but nice, easy enough to work with the router, not too expensive.

The design calls for mostly 4/4, some 6/4, and a small amount of 8/4 pieces, about 30 bd-ft total per chair... Hoping for some longevity, also planning not to apply a finish and let them weather naturally, so some water / insect resistance is a must.

No pressure treated pine. I'd love to go teak, but that's too spendy. I've seen suggestions of Cypress, Cedar, Redwood, White Oak in various plans, and other sources. Was considering Sassafras too...

Anybody built anything for outdoors in SE MI? Any suggestions? tips? things to avoid?

--Paul


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 Post subject: Re: Outdoor Furniture
PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 4:52 pm 
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Master

Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:39 am
Posts: 100
Location: Plymouth
I whipped together a picnic table over the holiday weekend using cedar 5/4 decking for the table top and bench tops. Obviously, I'm years away from telling you about durability, so good luck! :p I can tell you it looks nice and scraped out easily (I scraped the contact services smooth where legs, arms, and elbows would rest so it'd be a comfy table to belly up to).

I would rather sit on the ground than have to refresh/repair a film or oil finish on an outdoor chair every year (all those damn nooks and crannies). Have you considered painting it instead? It might take a little soul out of it, but painting would mean you could use cheaper lumber. I wonder if a durable enough paint for this application would layer decently. If so, you could layer a few colors and burnish the outer coat(s) to bring some soul back into the chair.

That's me throwing ideas at the wall. Always easier to think of work for other people to do than yourself. :p

Jokes aside, let us know what you decide, it should be fun.

_________________
- Nathan


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 Post subject: Re: Outdoor Furniture
PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 6:56 pm 
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Obsessed

Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 8:12 pm
Posts: 1805
Location: Ypsilanti
I'm willing to say, I used 4/4 cedar for a porch (under a roof, but it gets rained on when it rains sideways, from any of 3 directions) about 15-20 years ago, put several coats of Thompson's WaterSeal on it when it was new. I was just looking at it today and it looks like hell. I have other decks that have no roof, that were nominal 2x6 pressure-treated, that are of comparable age and were maybe re-treated once or twice in the interim, and they are holding up much better.

Based on this, I don't think I'd use cedar again.

If I was building the furniture you describe, I'd use locust, but I don't think I have enough to share. Then, again, I might, especially for one chair, which might be an interesting experiment: Use a variety of materials and then compare how they hold up. PM me your BF requirements if you are interested.


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 Post subject: Re: Outdoor Furniture
PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:37 pm 
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Obsessed

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 8:27 pm
Posts: 1855
Location: ann arbor
on my log home, the logs are red pine, and the trim is clear cedar. after significant preparation, the logs were finished with a line of products from a company called permachink, and so far, i'm really impressed. it ain't cheap, but it does the job, protecting the logs from UV and water. when i refinished the house, i decided to use the same product on the outside cedar window and (existing) door trim - permachink lifeline stain, and topcoat. in a "woodworking" world i never would consider this product, but given that i was using it for the rest of the house exterior, seemed ok to just keep going. the cedar is holding up very nicely, and i would consider treating a cedar exterior piece with the products.

for the exterior doors i built, because those were done in the shop, i took a slightly different approach - used a lot of teak oil on the clear cedar, and while i love the look, it hasn't held up well. so, now i'm in the process of doing a light cleaning and scuffing (red pad, nothing aggressive) and using Epifanes marine varnish. frankly, i hate the sheen, and i hate the application, but it's apparently super durable and great with UV, so my thought is to follow the system, lay down a solid base of epifanes and use a satin topcoat to knock down the sheen. that will be durable and less maintenance long term than teak oil alone.

alan from our group was over the other day, and he mentioned he did a piece where he used a penetrating epoxy and then epifanes over it. that's probably the ultimate solution (short of paint), because the epoxy is truly waterproof, but hates UV, and the epifanes is superior and keeping UV away from the wood. it's something to consider....

not sure this has helped, but, unlike dave, at least so far, i'm not afraid of cedar outside, but i do agree it takes some maintenance.

oh, and never, ever buy or build a log home. it's a royal PIA.

--- dz


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 Post subject: Re: Outdoor Furniture
PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:17 pm 
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Master

Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:08 am
Posts: 182
Location: Ann Arbor
A few years back I built a set of Adirondack Chairs and a small table out of clear cedar. The cedar was expensive but it looks great. I finished it with an oil finish. It did not hold up. After a couple years the cedar had greyed and had mildew all over it. Last summer I took the chairs back down to bare wood. I applied a coat of Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES) and 3 coats of Epifanes Marine Varnish. The CPES is supposed to seal and harden all of the wood fibers and then the Epifanes goes on to protect it. The process was not fun but the chairs still look like the day I got done refinishing them.

Here are a few links:
Epifanes
https://www.epifanes.com/page/clear-finishes

CPES
http://www.rotdoctor.com/products/cpes.html

Video showing the finishing schedule and process of these products (where I got this idea in the first place)
http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/ ... ing-bench/

If you want to go the CPES route I have a bit left over from my project. I don't have anything I would be using it on in the near future so you are welcome to it.

A


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 Post subject: Re: Outdoor Furniture
PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:47 pm 
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Obsessed

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 8:27 pm
Posts: 1855
Location: ann arbor
so to alan's point, for years i've used west systems two-part as a sealer on exterior doors --- basically soak the bottoms of the doors in epoxy before finishing. seems like a solid approach no matter what. that said, i think that CPES is probably a better product than the west for this application, and the addition of epifanes to protect from the UV... seems like a winner.


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 Post subject: Re: Outdoor Furniture
PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 7:53 pm 
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Master

Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:41 pm
Posts: 172
Location: Saline
My personal opinion and experiences:
I have made 25+ chairs and sold them at farmers markets and to friends. I have tried cypress and cedar. I've tried outdoor finishes, oils, and paints. I have friends that have cedars chairs still after 15+ years; no finish. I have had others rot in five years (my own as I was experimenting with woods).

1) Best wood unfinished or with minimal finishing: western red cedar. You can get this at Chelsea Lumber in Saline, and just about any big box store. If you're plans are structurally sound, 4/4 is good enough (store boards). Cedar is great when you sand it down. And the smell... love it. I just wish I could keep that unbleached, non-oxidized color without applying a ton of UV protecting poly.

2) Cypress is wonderful to work with but MUST be finished with either paint or sealers that the others have recommended. It does not hold up to the elements or bugs like cedar. You would think; but it is garbage compared to cedar. Rots, and gets infested with bugs when wet. You have to finish cypress with something. Harder to get. I got mine from Johnson's in Charlotte

3) Best paint: Benjamin Moore outdoor paint. I buy their "Ben" flat finish. The picture below is of a chair that is 10+ years old and made of cypress. Holding up great! I did seal the bottom end grain with CPES epoxy from Jamestown Distributors.

4) If you want them to last 10+ years, get stainless steel fasteners. I never regret using stainless steel on outdoor projects. They just keep that nice clean look and don't rust, looking cheap. Spend the extra dough to get stainless. It will pay off later as you can reuse them if you need to.

If you have more questions or would like to talk, send me a PM. I have since moved on from adirondacks to other experimental pieces and rocking chairs. Adirondack's were my bread and butter when I first started. I still have friends that tell me how much they love the chairs and that they are holding up. I build a few here and there from references but my days in the farmer's market are done. LOL

Good luck regardless Awesome project
Kind regards,
Juan


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 Post subject: Re: Outdoor Furniture
PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 1:15 pm 
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Obsessed

Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 8:12 pm
Posts: 1805
Location: Ypsilanti
Great discussion. Thanks. To clarify, I don't think the cedar deck I made was western red cedar. More likely it was white cedar.

And I'll let you know more on the locust. So far, I only made a trellis of it, about 5 years go, partially-sheltered by a roof overhang but the lower part is in the weather. No finish, natural grey color, but it seems quite solid after 5 years. And yes, I used stainless-steel fasteners. Our grandfathers said locust fenceposts would last 50-100 years in the ground and that seems very impressive to me.

The cypress garden-gate I made ten years ago is not holding up nearly as well. But the white-oak gateposts of that garden gate are holding up fine, and they outlasted the previous gate, too, so they are maybe 10-15 years old. No finish, full year-round weather exposure.

I do favor WEST epoxy (for boat repairs and fiberglass and other projects), but I have not tried CPES or the other products mentioned. (Most people do not know that WEST stands for "wood epoxy saturation technique".) Again, great discussion, thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Outdoor Furniture
PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 4:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 01, 2017 10:00 am
Posts: 3
Location: Saline
I've got a few other projects I need to finish before starting on the chairs, so I've still got some time to decide. I really don't want to use something that requires a finish. I'd rather have the weathered grey look than refinish every year or two. Ultimately I want to build 5 or 6 chairs. Maybe I'll use a few different woods and see how they go... Might start with something cheaper and make sure the design is comfortable and get the construction down, maybe western red cedar decking. The locust sounds interesting, might try Sassafras (looks like Kencraft sells it), white oak, maybe ipe...

Paul


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