Woods for Outdoors

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Andy Dingley asks:

Dunno about weather differences. Where I live in Virginia, it seldom gets below 10 deg. F. though I have seen it as low as 5 below zip (again, F.). That happened about 18 years ago, and it hasn't come within 10 degrees of that since.
I dry my own walnut, with no borer problems. What version is yours? Ours is J. nigra. Durability may well differ. My references list only J. cinerea in the family: that's butternut, and it is non-durable to a fare thee well.
I've got little info on English oak. I know I had some one time, and it was at least as hard as white oak, but a much deeper tan. I see that Q. robur is susceptible to beetle damage. Q. petraea isn't in any of my references. Durn. Thought I might learn a bit more.
Charlie Self
"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful." Samuel Johnson
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On 18 Sep 2003 18:03:42 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote:

England is all an Atlantic coastal climate - you can't get more than 100 miles from the sea, whatever you do. We probably see similar temperatures to that, but a cold snap like that is a one or two day occurrence every few years, not a couple of month's predictable weather.

There's no native English walnut; ours are mainly J. regia (the European walnut) or American Black. There's a guy near Oxford collecting a large world seed-source for walnuts and trying to find the best English cultivars. I'd love to grow some, but it's a sobering thought that you don't plant walnuts for your kids, but for your great-grandkids.

Q. robur is the pedunculate oak; acorns on stalks, leaves have "earlobes" either side of the stalk. Q. petraea is the sessile oak; acorns sat right down, no auricles on the leaves. Both are native throughout Europe, right out to the Caucasus, but Q. petraea doesn't extend north-eastwards into the cold of Finland and Russia.
You can't tell the timber apart, but the trees grow differently. Sessile oak has less trouble with epicormics (branches budding from low-down on an already mature trunk). Most existing trees are pedunculate, but new planting has to be sessile, if you want the planting grants.
As timber, all my oak is locally felled. There's a lot of French oak imported in recent years - don't know why, but they seem to be felling everything they can get. There's also plenty of American white (and a little red). Most of this is low-grade though, no-one seems to import the good stuff. American white oaks are softer than English oaks - our stuff can be _very_ hard going sometimes.
As to pests, then there's a few of them. but no really serious ones. Longhorn beetles are extremely common, but not a big problem. They're rife in freshly felled timber and the larvae may hatch from dried timber. The tunnels are large (1/4") and the beetles (and their antennae!) enormous. But they navigate well, so they typically only eat out a larvae-width layer at the top of the sapwood. Only the more clueless ones put the occasional tunnel into the heartwood. Apart from the House Longhorn (SE England (and Europe) only), they don't damage dried timber. The common furniture and powder-post beetles will attack dry timber, but make small holes.
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Andy Dingley responds:

Not a couple months. It gets cold in early December, but cold is relative. I spent a lot of time in upstate NY (Albany area) when I was much younger and winters there tend to be an experience. Sometimes 25 or more below zero, windy, lots of snow. Average snowfall in my area of VA is probably 18", with the top amount 63" (seen close to that much in one Albany storm back in the late '60s). But, though central VA temps may drop to 10 at 6 a.m., by 2-3 p.m., they'll almost always be above freezing, often in the low 40s. Which is what helps create ice problems.
I wouldn't really want to sleep outside without a good sleeping bag from late November through about late March, but it's possible to readily survive without it, if you keep your head.
We're maybe 160 miles inland, maybe 170. One day, I'll clock it. But we're right in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains (Appalachian chain), so we get some modifying influence there.
And, with luck, in 6-8 weeks I'll have this house sold and be back there!
Charlie Self
"Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. " Adlai E. Stevenson
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The beetles really go for the sapwood in black walnut. After drying though, the heartwood is fairly resistant.
Myx
(Charlie Self)

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I have made a number of porch swings out of Cypress, which is inexpensive in this area (Atlanta). One has been hanging from an A-frame in the weather (not sheltered) for six months without any visible sign of deterioration. Also made a window box which has been weathering for 3 years with no sign of deterioration. Cypress is easy to work with but not very hard. It is not necessary to put a finish on it, but a coat of Tung Oil with a UV inhibitor gives it a nice appearance and probably helps preserve the wood.
Fred

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How about Iroko? I think it has durability similar to that of Teak, but is _much_ cheaper.

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