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  • Cedar bench

    Hey guys,
    I want to make my wife a cedar bench for her garden.
    What do i need to do to preserve the cedar for outdoor exposure (if anything)?

    Thanks!
    Nobu
    Yoroshiku onegai shimasu

  • #2
    I don't know if you would need anything or not. I like to use Hellsmans Spar Urathane(sp?) Fpr outdoor projects.
    SSG, U.S. Army
    Retired
    K.I.S.S., R.T.F.M.

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    • #3
      Depends on what look you want. If you don't finish, it'll age to a weathered gray. If you want to keep the original look of the wood, I have to agree with TOD on Helmsman Spar Urethane. Great stuff!

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      • #4
        I’m in the midst of an outdoor experiment using Danish Oil on mahogany. I was going to build myself a nice Adirondack chair out of mahogany and wasn’t sure how I wanted to finish it so I did an experiment with D O for a year or so. I milled new wood pieces out of mahogany for my barbeque this past April and coated them with D O. I applied a fresh coat of D O to them around July and the boards that get the brunt of the moisture deposited on them could use another coat, the vertical ones still look great. Advantage of D O is that it is extremely easy to apply fresh coats compared to when spar varnish finally goes south it is a total pain with the required scraping, sanding you know the routine.

        Woodslayer

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        • #5
          Good topic

          I'm glad to see this topic come up and hope others will share their knowledge. I can offer a couple of my experiences with cedar Adirondack chairs.

          The first chairs I made almost 15 years ago from cedar and didn't finish. For most of that time they were in the yard in full exposure to the elements. The wood began to split and the chair eventually failed:

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          Okay, 15 years outside and not the clearest cedar to begin with.

          Maybe 8 years ago I made another two. These have been outside under a porch. They get direct sun and are exposed to variation in moisture, but not direct rain. I applied Helmsman Spar urethane to one and left one natural:

          Spar:

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          As Woodslayer mentioned, the varnish eventually needs to be removed and replaced. I've just left mine alone and most of the varnish has flaked off.

          Natural:

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          On the last outdoor project I did (a porch swing), I used Teak oil on Oak. I've already added more oil twice. I also take it down in the winter.

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          I'm not sure how Teak oil would do with cedar, but there are other exterior penetrating oils that would be suitable. I've also made projects out of cypress, and love it for outdoor furniture.

          Woodslayer: I didn't know Danish Oil was suggested for exterior use. What brand did you use?

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          • #6
            I use Watco brand; that teak oil appears to be doing a mighty fine job of keeping your oak swing looking in prime shape.

            Woodslayer

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            • #7
              I use Watco brand; that teak oil appears to be doing a mighty fine job of keeping your oak swing looking in prime shape.

              Woodslayer
              So far so good... but that's why I like this thread, what will it look like in 15 - 20 years. I'm really surprised that the Spar Urethane failed as fast and completely as it did. I don't know if was my application, the product, the wood or something else. I'm glad it wasn't my front door. But others have had good results with the product. I think it must have been the lumber or my application. I applied it to dry, freshly sanded wood. I'm wondering if I should have cleaned the chair with Acetone or Naphtha before using it.
              The first bare cedar chairs just went down hill after 5-6 years. They just got so dry. They look like 200 yo antiques now.

              I wish I had the Cypress chairs. I gave them to my parents, and as of last summer they look like the day I completed them but silver/gray.

              I sure hope others will show their older outdoor projects.

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              • #8
                Totem Poles

                Many years ago I asked a totem pole carver how he treated his poles to protect them. His response – rub on lots of linseed oil, and then try to get the owner to reapply more linseed oil very few years. (Totem poles are made from old growth cedar.)

                I've seen many totem poles that were many years old and still looked pretty good. Of course we're talking about an entire tree trunk, not some thin boards.

                Many of the better condition poles have some form of protection to keep water from entering along the end grain. Some times the protection is a metal top sheet, some times some form of cap that is part of the poles design, and often it is simply steeply sloped top surfaces that promote run off.

                Not sure if this helps, but then I've always been fascinated by totem poles.
                Last edited by Dick L; 09-13-2006, 07:59 PM.
                Dick

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                • #9
                  Living in the Pacific Northwest I understand your fascinated with totem poles. A really unique art form.

                  And you bring up a good point for Nobu about endgrain. Make sure your bench is not placed in direct soil contact. Put it on pavers or something similar.

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                  • #10
                    If possible, you could make tall side poles that would support a roof-like structure for the bench that would keep the worst of the rain off the bench maybe. I like that natural look chair that cjh made. Of course, you can always use oil or urethane. I've used spar urethane, too, but not for outdoor projects. I know they use it a lot on boats, so that should be a good sign!
                    I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

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                    • #11
                      The right question

                      Thanks guys!
                      cjh20, looking at the pictures with and without the spar, i gotta say the natural looks very nice in comparison.
                      I agree about setting the bench on the ground. I would definately want to put patio blocks or something under it.

                      Well, now i'm torn. Natural or use the Helmsman...
                      Yoroshiku onegai shimasu

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                      • #12
                        kon-nichiwa Nobu,

                        We look forward to seeing the results of your work.

                        sayonara


                        "When we build let us think we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work that our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone upon stone, that a time is to come when these stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, "See! This our fathers did for us."
                        John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

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                        • #13
                          I'm always torn between the wish to make something last "forever" and the knowledge that in a few years I'll figure out a way to do a better job.

                          I've never seen any varnish or paint that could withstand the damage caused by ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure. We age, wood ages, and it all kind of goes together. The UV problem is worse here in central California.

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                          • #14
                            No way!

                            I'm sorry kbrinton, but i refuse to age.
                            And if I'M not going to age then neither should my projects!



                            Gads! Is that ANOTHER gray hair!?!?!?!?!
                            Yoroshiku onegai shimasu

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                            • #15
                              Well, you were probly smart to begin with. I've had to wait for such results. Good example: In the 1970s I had an entire large old (1800s) New England barn covered with perfectly weathered boards. I could have dismantled it board by board and sold them to Boston contractors for interior paneling, made an absolute fortune. But did I? No -- it was tiring work. So I let the barn collapse under the weight of snow, and eventually we bulldozed it under.

                              Almost equal in age were some Adirondack chairs, of pine and spruce (no cedar) which were not varnished but which have lasted to this day. They are taken inside during the winter but sit out otherwise.

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