I'm building a garden swing (the kind with two facing seats hanging
from a frame with a platform connecting them) and was planning to use
Redwood. I'm from the Northeast and Redwood is impossible to get
here. One lumber yard suggested that dimensional cedar would be a
good substitute but is cedar strong enough for such a structure? If
not, what other species should I consider. I could use white or red
oak but I was hoping to get away without having to mill my own
dimensional lumber. How about Fir? This will be outside but not in
contact with the soil. The feet will sit on concrete path stones.
Fir would be a good choice structurally, but is prone to splinters.
Cedar is too soft/limber in my opinion for the purpose, which would
require larger structural parts to compensate than would really have a
Oak, of course, is plenty strong but working with it is more difficult
owing to it being much harder. That's not too much an issue if you have
all the tools you need, but w/ hand tools only might be problematical if
you're not an experienced woodworker. And, of course, if were to choose
oak, for an exterior project you'll want to be sure to use white, not
red, oak for weather resistance.
I'd suggest looking at cypress if you can find it locally.
I'm planning eventually to build some outdoor furniture and was hoping to
use ipe. Unfortunately, it's non-existent around here so my next choice is
going to be mahogany. Not the least expensive wood but should give me
pretty good resistance to rot and insects.
I can't imagine that ipe is unavailable in most of North America. It's
certainly for sale at most lumber dealers near San Francisco.
Doesn't the Internet go everywhere? ;-)
Save the mahogany for the Goddard repro...
My nearest Ipe dealer is over 90 miles away. Too far to go with
lumber sticking out the back IMHO. I just replaced a set of stairs
off a covered back porch using Brazilian Teak (Cumaru) available by
special order at Menards (borg). It was about $5 a board foot so it
is not the cheapest but is comprable to composites. it was also the
only option within easy driving distance. It is nice looking stuff.
All the info I saw indicated it is tough on tools. That might be true
if you only work with SPF or pressure treated but any tools that see
maple, walnut or white oak will have no problem with it. At some
point I would like to do a Titanic deck chair or two. Right now it is
between white oak and this stuff for me.
Well I haven't been able to find it anywhere in the state of New Mexico. I
could order online but jaysus, shipping and all on a couple of hundred bf of
Ipe would probably be unreasonable (although when compared with getting the
mahogany locally, it might be in line). I could ask a dealer to order it
in but their minimum is 5000 bf. No thanks.
After calling a number of lumber yards this is where I'm at. I can
get white oak easily but I would have to mill all my own dimensional
lumber. Not a real problem, I've got the tools, but I don't know if
I want to spend all that time. Forget Cypress, it's a lot more costly
than the oak is here. I can get dimensional mahogany (2x4x8&10,
2x6x8&10) for a good price at a local yard.. I've purchased Mahogany
from here before to do a deck railing and that is the quality of it.
So, I think it will be either Cedar or Mahogany. I have to go to the
yard and check on the quality of the Mahogany.
Sounds like a plan. Whichever of the two you use I'm sure it will hold
up better than the Adirondack chairs I built from soft 1" #3 Pine. All
the ones I sold were totally painted with exterior house paint or oil
stained with Thompsons or Penafin.
I set one unfinished Pine chair and footrest outside for the last two
years, rain, sun, freez, 110 degrees; as a test. The wood has actually
held up pretty well. Just this summer as the heat has come on the glue
gave out and the staples are starting to come loose in some spots. I
used 3, 1/4" x 2" stables at each 3x1 slat. I think I'll go all screws
in the future or maybe just add one screw an drop to 2 staples at each
I had this brilliant idea I could make a business of these chairs.
Using my gang ripper, pocket screws and some really cool fixtures
(jigs) I could cut and build a dozen of these chairs in a day, easy.
They were in 4 pieces, a base, two arm assemblies and a back. These
pieces could be assembled by the buyer using 1/4"-20 x 2" galvanized
carriage bolts. Also had a nice foot rest too and a table.
I assumed I could use a house sprayer and 5 gallon buckets of cheap
exterior paint. Problem was spraying these out was a nightmare. The
house sprayer laid down way too much paint, didn't get in the gaps and
would have killed my profits. So I took to hand finishing them with
oil stain or latex. Looked great in white and blue kind of chalky
beach color stains. Again, labor was 3x the build time just to finish
I set up a road side stand right on a busy intersection with an empty
lot in the town I live in. Sold out 20 sets (2 chairs, 2 foot rests, 1
table) in two days at $250 a set during a heat wave. Not bad since the
material was less than $50 a set, much less if I recall right. But the
labor on finishing killed me.
I finally found a good wholesale supplier of Cedar and will likely
revive the business next season, to late to ramp up now. The cedar can
go totally unfinished and removes my labor problem. I have a few
nurserys that will take them on consignment, on my terms and once they
sell a few I assume they will start buying them.
Cut the pieces, then hang them on a large rack and paint before
assembling. If making glue joints, spray the rough pieces and do the
joinery on the finished pieces if too complex to cover/protect them.
For the stain/oil, dip instead of coat...
Other than that, sounds like a good plan... :)
Rot and insect resistance for white oak is almost as good, and the
price is a great deal lower. Don't mess with red oak for outdoor use.
You can probably find ipe if you look hard enough, but, in truth, it
is too expensive for most uses, IMHO.
Look into the Janka hardness scale. Cedar is much harder (stronger) than
redcedar, eastern Juniperus virginiana 4.0 900
redwood, old growth Sequoia sempervirens 2.1 480
redwood, second growth Sequoia sempervirens 1.9 420
Do not use red oak or fir. Good choices include:
PT lumber, inexpensive
cypress, fairly inexpensive
Any of these woods are strong enough. Use clear or wood with small
knots. Avoid end-grain on the stones. Fasten pads where the wood will
touch the stones.
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