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Historic Outdoor Bench6/11
I'm rebuilding a historic outdoor bench made of cast iron and wood. The original wood appears to be mahogany, which was painted at some point in its lifetime.
Today, I was at a lumber yard and I think I made a big mistake - I bought 36 feet of philipine mahogany. Now I'm realizing this material is really luan and may not be appropriate for outdoor applications.
My questions are: Do I have to get another wood or can I use what I bought. If I can use it, should I finish it/how should I finish it?
I have since reviewed the knowledge base and found recommendations for white oak, cedar, cypres - are these more appropriate, how should I finish them?
Depends on what you want it to look like, if yearly maintenance is a possiblity, and environment where it is located. UV breaks down clear finishes, water expands wood and cracks clear finish, and desert sun bleaches wood. So if you want it to last the longest, paint it. Any wood will last a while with a good primer and paint. Use Ipe and put nothing on it for it to last almost forever. Use spar varnish on white oak and it will last a fair amount of time, but after the first couple of years, may require a light sanding and recoat. And a repeat every few years. Lots of options available, we just need to know your expectations.
Thanks so much for your response. I'm sure the owners (a local theater group) would rather not deal with yearly (or bi-yearly) maintenance and I'm pretty sure they would prefer natural wood color vs. paint. If it started out with it's natural color (maybe deepened with a little oil), then faded to grey over time, that would be fine.
Does that point to that Ipe that you mentioned?
I'd say Ipe it is then. White oak, water, and cast iron probably wouldn't play well together. The acid in the white oak would probably rust the cast iron. Cedar isn't the strongest material, especially for something for public use. Not to mention the splinters. Cypress would be a close second to the Ipe, but Ipe will really last. Available at a lot of lumber yards now.
Thanks Rich, I'll go with Ipe.
I am looking for someone to build a outdoor bench from some Maple that we took down outside our Admin building last August. We are hoping to use only Maple but I wonder if combining it with metal braces or legs/arms would be a good idea? I am in Tacoma, WA do you know of someone who could both mill the lumber and build it? Any feedback on the feasibility of this project?
Melinda - You will get better responses if you post this as a new thread in WOODnetWORK.
You should have contacted a professional woodworker before or as the tree was coming down. Logs that have sat for a while have started to loose their moisture and end checks start, as well as fungi start to stain the wood on the inside.
Call WoodMizer in Indianapolis and see if you can locate a sawyer in your area to saw the logs into boards - preferably 2" thick or thicker. He/she may also have a kiln drying source that can then dry the lumber for you.
Then the professional woodworker, with experience building benches can be found. You may need to provide a design or ask the woodworker to design a bench.
Be advised that Maple is not the best wood in exterior use - since that is part of your plan. In fact, it is one of the worst.
As I say, the first step is a professional woodworker....