A friend has been redoing his master bath, as his time and energy allows.
I've been helping him. He's good company, a wealth of knowledge, and has
been a really good fellow for the 35 years or so I've known his family.
His wife got it into her head she wants a wooden vanity top. The base is
red oak, which Stan has finished to within an inch of it's life.
(Stanley's hobby has been making stringed instruments, for the fun of it.)
So he asked about oak - could I help him put something together?
I hemmed and hawed about the materials, and suggested we find something
more suitable. I've seen mahogany vanity tops, and teak, but I think that
might just break whatever budget there is, and may not give the look they
Has anyone done ipe in this, or a similar application? Or another
tropical? Something darkish, and not $15/bf?
Tooling isn't a problem, and we can get almost anything in the SF Bay Area,
if we bring enough money. I'd like not to have to redo this one. That
bathroom has been 'in progress' for 18 months, at least.
Talk to me about finishing. All I've ever seen relates to oil, and I'm
concerned that more would be needed. A film finish with some chemical
resistance. Would the ipe hold it?
Outdoors is so much easier. Sandpaper and sunlight. Good.
I would be concerned about the use of oil finishes for a vanity. The
exposure to water (combined with soap, make-up and such) will tend to stain
or discolor the Ipe. I would use a hard polyurethane. Several coats.
I am curious as to why you say water will be a problem for IPE. As it is
primarily used as a decking material, I wouldn't expect water to be a
problem. Is it because of the oil finishes you make the statement? I would
agree with that.
I am planning to make a bench for our shower and my wife has suggested that
I use some of the leftover IPE from our deck. At this point, I was planning
not to finish it, as it will be getting wet on a regular basis. Since you
mentioned the polyurethane, I wonder if a marine "spar" urethane would work
better for this and the vanity project. It's designed to protect against
salt water as I understand it, so the soap and water from a sink / shower
shouldn't phase it.
In the shower stall, as a seat, I'd use it bare, too. And be prepared to
replace it, if needed, in maybe 5 years. No sweat.
Countertops need to be water tight, as well as resistant to all sorts of
cosmetic and cleaning chemicals. Bare might not be what I'm going for
here. And counter tops have substantially more material at risk.
I'm concerned about the film finishes. I don't want high maintenance.
Maybe I don't want wood.
Thanks for the thoughts, Dave(s).
David, What I said was combined with other stuff related to a vanity. I
agree with Patriarch about its use in the shower, no finish.
As a vanity top, some sort of -urethane will protect it from staining.
A fellow attendee in the adult ed. class recently made a circular table top out
of ipe decking, all surfaced down to 5/8" thick from 3/4" original and for
the first time I could really see what it looks like as a color and a grain. It is
kinda ugly. Small grain structures of varying colors from browns to reddish
dark browns to yellows to greens, all tattered and somewhat "attacking"
designs in the grain, from subtle to bright. I was lucky to get some good
scraps of it. $2.70/LN locally = (2x 5-1/2" wide) $5/BF (or so), cheap
So, I would say ebonize to a very dark brown if it can be done. I am no expert
but it is the best decking there is that is not a composite board, to the tune of
lasting 25 years outside. Hard as h*** and heavy. It would work well for a
lady if colored right, merely as a "surface".
On Wed, 23 Feb 2005 21:34:31 -0600, the inscrutable Patriarch
You get extra karma points on that one. ;)
Jarrah and purkleheartless jump to mind. Both are dark, with the
jarrah being reddish brown (but FAR from RBS) and the purkleheartless
being, um, purkle.
What's the size, and why is $15/bf bad? His instrument-grade woods
are probably double that.
- Sarcasm is just one more service we offer. -
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Hadn't considered jarrah, but that's a pretty good thought. The local
purveyor of hardwoods (aka da pusher) has been stocking it lately, in
At the adult ed, purpleheart shows up way too often in students' early
projects, in ways that offend my taste. That, and it tends to make the
machines complain loudly when a newbie is trying to thickness 3/32" off
of a board, on a small Delta planer, with dull blades. Besides, purple
was school colors for the rival high school, 'back in the day'.
Stanley is the ultimate wood bargain finder. He's got stuff he's been
collecting for decades, several chunks at a time. At this point, late
in life, he's unlikely to want to want to spend big for this much
mahogany. And his health won't let him do fine work any more. Which is
why I help with his projects, and he brings me gifts from his wood stash
as thank yous.
Thank you for the thoughts.
I built a pair of adirondacks out of Ipe, and I just love the stuff. My
wife really wanted to finish them because the wood came out so nice. I
fought her a little on it, but she won (duh).
I ended up putting a "spar urethane" on it from the Borg, knowing it
wasn't quite as good as real "spar varnish." When I was done, the
chairs looked incredible. Like I could set them on the floor and Smith
and Hawken and get $400 each for them.
Well, the finish has just been falling right off the wood. It started
about a month after application, with some cracking. I'll be heading
out there with a scraper to finish the stripping job that the wood
started on its own. Shouldn't take long at all. I guess I win my fight
with SWMBO after all, but it's taken two years for the finish to
completely give out on us.
I've never seen wood shed a finish like this. It's like snake skin. The
wood itself is doing awesome. I don't see how this stuff could be 10%
of the way to its grave (25-year life). It just isn't aging (other than
I don't think you'll go much better unless you go to marine spar. Even then,
only a light coat and prepare to renew it. Unless you have a pigment to block
the sun, the oils in ipe will oxidize while the finish degrades from the UV,
and the combination is what you described. SWMBO once had me try to keep some
mahogony small patio tables brown. No clear finish worked, even with extra UV
inhibitor, and a thick finish just peeled in time. Now, every two years I
lightly sand down the surface, then apply a thin coat of wb poly to just seal
the surface for awhile. The coat is thin enough that it doesn't peel, and
refinishing takes only a hour or two, restoring the brown color.
Interesting. It sounds like Ipe just wants to be left alone. No bugs,
no water, no stinkin' finish.
I guess I won't have to worry about it since SWMBO is on the "let it
silver" bandwagon with me now.
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