Cedar acclimatization. How long for outdoor furniture?


So I decided to try my hand at one of the many outdoor Adirondack chair plans out there. Kind of a rite-of-passage, right? :) Anyway, the stuff I picked up a the local Borg was not quite dripping wet, but it sure was damp. Actually, the 2x6 material wasn't so bad, but the 1x6's were.
Any suggestions how long I should let them set? I've got them stickered and stacked, but it would be nice to build something with them for this summer, not next. If nothing else, they make my shop smell nice! I have no moisture checker, and I'm not sure what's good for outdoor furniture anyway.
TIA!
Clint
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Too bad you don't have a moisture meter. For those of us interested, I believe the correct MC is 15%
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Outdoor furniture will be at a pretty high moisture content compared with household furniture - something likely on the order of 15% if you're anywhere but a desert.
One way to tell if wood has excess moisture is to merely feel it - if it feels damp then it is. Store it in a sheltered area away from rain, direct sunlight and excess heat. You may be able to use it by mid to late summer depending on just how wet it is right now. (I know what you mean by Borg wood not quite dripping - but it certainly doesn't seem too far from it.)
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wrote:

I'm kind of wondering about this particular project myself (the wife wants some patio furniture for our new home) So, I figured I'd jump in while there's an open thread, and add a couple of questions. So, does red aromatic cedar have the same weather resistant properties as the dull white/brown variety, and is moisture content of the wood as important if it is jointed with deck screws instead of glue? (To clarify, I intend to use traditional joinery, with screws in addition to wood glue for that little extra bit of protection from the elements)
Also, is it better to use a finish like shellac, or to just get something like Thompsons water seal (or whatever other deck weatherproofing product floats your boat)?
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re:finish - Depends on if you want the color to remain as-is, or to weather to silver/gray, in which case you don't finish it at all. If you use shellac or poly, any film finish, you'll be sanding and refinishing every few years and it will show. Even with marine varnish. If you use water seal or behr or some other oil based pigmented stain, you'll still be re-doing it every couple years, just won't have to sand the peeling areas of film finish, and it won't show. I kinda like that silvery color, considering the labor involved in re-finishing already assembled furniture.
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<snip>

'Cedar' covers a multitude of vaguely related woods. You should check with your local suppliers, and see what the deck and fence folks are using for their higher end work, and look at the economics of that.
We just did a set of benches in locally harvested Western Red Cedar (a backyard tree from a friend), and an arbor/pergola in redwood. I think the next outdoor furniture project I do will be in ipe, or something similar. That way, the joinery will be less like framing or fencing, and more like furniture or cabinetry.
Patriarch
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On Mon, 18 Apr 2005 16:21:16 -0500, Patriarch

The only stuff I'm interested in working is what they carry at the local hardwood supplier- it is a very deep red/purple with strips of white and black in it. There's a link a picture of the specific species I have access to right here:
http://www.harmonycedar.com/images/chest-cedar-grain-500.jpg
It comes in 4/4 stock, and is kiln dried- so there should be no problems with waiting for it to dry out. While I can't say that money is no object, I'm not terribly concerned about the price of a set of deck chairs and a little table. I think this stuff is about $2-3/bf. I can't afford to hunt down Teak or Honduran mahogany or anything like that, but cedar should be appropriate to the application in any case. My second choice is Redwood from the lumberyard a little ways down the road. Also not a bank-breaker, but it doesn't have as much character as the cedar.
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wrote:> >'Cedar' covers a multitude of vaguely related woods. You should check with

Aromatic or eastern red. One of the driest in the log of domestic woods, with the heartwood barely above the fiber saturation point. Also one of the toughest to get a finish to stick to. Shellac is what I've had luck with. Lot of oil and resin in the stuff.
For outside, let 'er go naked. Lots of hillbillies did.
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Nope, I've gotta have a finish on it now. If I want to see hillbilly stuff, I'll go visit my parents! That, and I want to keep the color. Thanks to you folks that responded- I'm going to make sure to look into that arm-r-seal stuff, and see how it goes. Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
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On Fri, 22 Apr 2005 05:42:49 -0500, the inscrutable Prometheus

I hate the "lovely silvery gray look", too. (If I wanted an old barn, I'da built one.)
Instead, I'd opt for the Sikkens Cetol finish for my outside bench to keep the color...if I could get both pry bars out at the same time. 'Taint cheap, and though I haven't tried it, I keep hearing that it's the very best. Best adhesion, most UV protection, longest lasting, etc.
http://www.nam.sikkens.com/product.cfm?product_id=3&product_category=exterior http://www.nam.sikkens.com/pdf/cetol1&23_App_Guides.pdf
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woods,
the
with.
http://www.nam.sikkens.com/product.cfm?product_id=3&product_category=exterior
You run into a problem, of course, with the oils and resins weeping through. If it is kiln-dried and resin set "cedar", a bit less.
http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base/Finishing_naturally_oily_woods.html
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You might have a winner there- looks like one of their dealers is a local furniture and finishing supply shop. I always like to support the local vendors when possible!
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Have made many of these chairs, usually out of cedar (mostly heartwood) it takes only about 2-3 weeks for "rain wet" cedar to dry out in the shop. Whatever finish you put on it, I recommend a final coat of Arm-R-seal. Protects from U.V. rays and holds the color of the wood. I HIGHLY recommend using stainless steel or brass screws and construction adhesive (caulk gun type for like $1.47) on all the joints. A bead spreads out nicely and it is a waterproof glue.
Hope this helps... Schroeder

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In my experience, eastern white cedar dries very fast, a few weeks outdoors properly stickered and that should do it. After all, you are going to be using it outdoors!
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Do you have a scale? Choose a board you can weigh, mark the weight on it, and weigh it again now and then. When that board stops loosing water weight, it is dried to the climate it is in. You'll notice most of the water dries out in the first few weeks. The wood does not have to be perfectly dry to use, unless you're jointing up table tops or other panels out of it. Wide, flat sawn boards will cup the worst. Keep in mind the wood will shrink ACROSS the grain, not along the grain, when determining fastening techniques.
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Thanks for the input from everyone. I was going to "templatize" the project anyway, so my first step will be to cut out all the appropriate pieces in some 1/2" plywood I've got kicking around. I figure if this one goes well, I'll probably be making more. I'm planning on using the Wood Magazine's version; see how that goes.
In the meantime, I'll probably wait till the middle of next month before I get too agressive in cutting wood for this project. If I can find someone with a moisture meter, I'll take a board over to their place and see what's up.
I'll also try to post some pic's in the binaries group, if anyone's interested.
Clint

I
damp.
and
summer,
anyway.
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If you don't need a moisture meter for another reason, I wouldn't bother. Weigh a sample board every week or so, and when it essentially stops losing weight, it's ready for your purposes. This kind of project is pretty forgiving. It's what my dad calls 'country work'.
Very few people want to sit on the back porch with a frosty beverage in a priceless Chippendale...
Patriarch
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