We've had thoughts about finally revamping our back yard. Life has
recently thrown us a curve that may delay that (again), but I'll ask
I'm thinking primarily of an outdoor dining table; simple, farmhouse
style. I'd like it to be over-large, but I'd also like to be able to put
it in a shed for the winter, so I'd probably build two normal-sized
tables instead, with removable legs.
So firstly, is this a stupid idea? Will I simply be building myself a
neverending project; one that will need refinishing every year or two?
We live in NY City; a pretty "versatile" climate with high humidity in
the summer, and of course, rain. The table would sit on concrete. We'd
keep some sort of fabric awning/umbrella over it, but nothing that would
truly keep it from the elements, (except in the winter).
If it's not stupid, what sort of wood should I build it from? Are there
perhaps plastic "cups" that are designed to protect the bottoms of (say)
4x4s where they would touch the ground? If I were to use metal fasteners
(for the legs, plus possibly pocket screws elsewhere), would those be
problematic over time?
On Wednesday, July 20, 2016 at 11:00:01 AM UTC-5, Greg Guarino wrote:
Cast aluminum Simpson post supports: https://www.google.com/search?q Κs
Apply (make your own) trim along the bottom, 1/4" above the "floor", to con
ceal the metal supports. You don't want your trim touching the "floor". ht
onceal the metal supports. You don't want your trim touching the "floor".
Or use adjustable glides to compensate for uneven concrete:
How pretty do you want it? If it were me, I'd make it with PT lumber and
paint it; that would be IMO the easiest upkeep. Next best - again, IMO -
would be a prettier wood and oil; yes, you have to redo the oil now and then
but it easy and fast and it will easily last one season, probably more.
When I was living on a sail boat I made all the blocks and belaying pins
from teak, finished with oil and they were still fine when I moved off 10
As far as leg protectors, you already have some suggestions. Another is
large rubber corks. I am going to use them when I get to making my sofa
tables, not for protection but to level...
1. drill holes on legs
2. recess T nuts or threaded inserts in holes
3. bolt corks to a wood round slightly smaller than hole, recess bolt head
4. screw cork and attached wood round intto holes in legs
The wood round really isn't needed, I am using it simply for appearance.
On Wednesday, July 20, 2016 at 9:00:01 AM UTC-7, Greg Guarino wrote:
There are a number of woods that will weather gracefully, give over
a decade of service. Redwood, alaskan yellow cedar, teak are all
traditional, some new and less familiar woods (Ipe?) are available.
Slat-with-gaps tabletop is a good idea, keeps water from accumulating on
a cupped surface.
Joinery is important, too: you can't use long screws (the wood
will swell and shrink, and long screws will work loose), and glue
choices are limited. Best is to use dowels or pegs or wedges, maybe with SS
hardware secured with short screws...
Avoid treated lumber; it is OK with damp, but doesn't take sunlight and
wet/dry cycling gracefully. Most finishes are less durable than the
woods, so i'd leave the surface bare, and plan on a yearly scrub-down,
maybe a light sanding when needed. Pumice scrub on teak was how
old sailing ships kept a splinter-free deck!
On Wednesday, July 20, 2016 at 11:00:01 AM UTC-5, Greg Guarino wrote:
There is no reason to put it in the shed, after all its an outdoor table.
Given where you live (I cannot say NYC without thinking of the Pace Pecante
sauce ad from years ago), but not knowing "Where" in the confines of the c
ity you live, let me offer the following - assuming you want to do this at
a reasonable price. Use white oak, its locally available, it weathers well
and if you have a planer, you can get it cheap from a sawmill within drivi
ng distance. Then forget screws and glue - draw bore the sucker. Gluing
will not hurt (Titbond III - avoid Gorilla) but it is not necessary. You h
ave barns in the country around your area that are three hundred years old,
some are built out of white oak (though a lot were out of chestnut, which
is no longer available, thanks to the Chinese) They are still standing and
doing well. The only thing holding them together, besides very good joiner
y, are the dowels used to draw bore it.
If you have never done any draw boring, its simple.
Sellers makes his pegs, but you can buy them at your local hardware store.
The important part is to taper the beginning two inches of the dowel to al
low it to get through the offset hole.
Then I would finish the table with a good exterior oil and just reapply whe
never you think it needs it.
Adirondack chairs have been around for a while, and seem to
hold up fairly well (and in more or less your climate, to
boot), so with good wood choice it should be OK.
Well, you could use Monel or silicon bronze and be confident
they'd last (and cost you a fortune), but I'd go with stainless
steel. Jamestown Distributors usually has good prices on all
manner of stainless fasteners.
BTW, I wouldn't worry too much about whit3rd's comment on long
screws. Long screws are used all over the place in boatbuilding
Well, for sailboats, it depends upon how much time there is between changing
tack. If one is on a starboard tack for 24 hours and then changes to a port
tack, the starboard side that was up has dried out considerably; since it is
now down, it is going to leak considerably for a while. Ditto the reverse.
That's why there are bilge pumps :)
I build outdoor furniture out of cypress. It is getting more expensive each
year because no one is growing it. I have chairs that have been in the we
ather for 20 years with nothing more than some polyurethane every couple of
years. The last great cypress I bought was from Wilson Lumber in Memphis.
The neat thing is after all these years, when the sun heats up my Adirondac
k chair I can smell the fresh lumber.
On Wednesday, July 20, 2016 at 5:55:17 PM UTC-5, Kirk Wasson wrote:
ch year because no one is growing it. I have chairs that have been in the
weather for 20 years with nothing more than some polyurethane every couple
of years. The last great cypress I bought was from Wilson Lumber in Memphis
ack chair I can smell the fresh lumber.
But the problem with cypress is that the to get the weather resistance its
noted for, you need to get old growth, or at least heart wood from the newe
r stuff. The sapwood is almost as weather sensitive as pine.
So many options. Wood choice depends on budget and how long you want it
to last. Anything good for decks is probably good for the table. Look
at some of the wood here for ideas http://www.advantagelumber.com/
Avoid pressure treated. Do you want to put your food and beverages on
chemically saturated wood? Even construction grade lumber will get you
7 to 10 years with minimal care. some of the exotics will last 50+
years with no treatment. Stainless steel screws, of course.
Putting it away in winter is good, but a blue tarp will give you plenty
I've had good results with cypress, spanish cedar, mahogany decking
material, and tiger wood. UV is the worst factor for it turning grey so
use an oil with UV protection and try to keep it covered. Next is
ground contact. Any sort of rubber pad makes a difference keeping the
end grain from contact with dampness.
I'm certainly no expert, but would gladly argue this point. Are you
saying wood turning "grey" is solely a UV issue?
In CA, redwood is almost universally used fer decks and fences. Using
it fer fences is a hoot, as the same ppl that can afford redwood fencing
are also usually the same ppl that have automatic lawn sprinklers.
Wanna see grey? Everywhere water hits a redwood fence, it turns
grey. It's a given! Water hits fence, fence is grey. You can take
it to the bank. ;)
Mostly UV. the wood I have out of direct sun is still OK even though it
gets wet. Are you saying the sun does not hit those fences? Argue away.
Just like you shedding dead skin cells, the dull grey patina that old
wood takes on is purely dead wood fibers brought about by UV rays coming
from the sun and yes, even sealed wood will over time, turn grey.
Considering that wood cannot regenerate fresh wood fibers on its own,
you have to slough off the dull grey color on your own.
Why Does Wood Turn Grey?
The natural weathering process of wood is a combination of chemical,
mechanical, biological and light-induced changes, all of which occur
simultaneously and affect each other. For instance, as air moves over
the surface of a wood deck, dust, pollen, dirt, and air pollutants
replace the exposed colored cells of the wood. This slow transformation
is also made possible through the exposure of the sunβs ultraviolet
rays, or salt particles in coastal areas. Depending on the species of
wood, these changes can occur anywhere between a few months to years.
Why does this happen? There are two culprits: water and sun.
Water erodes the outer layer of the wood cells that are still alive and
well in a plank of cedar. They are busy producing the natural oils which
gives cedar its nice color and smell.
Then the sunβs UV rays come in to dry out those oils. UV rays can also
fade the colors of just about anything over time. Thatβs why as I
evaluated the best stain brand for a cedar fence I spent a lot of time
looking at how well any given stain resisted the sunβs UV rays.
If the table will be sitting on grass or dirt, at least make the legs
out of PT wood. Wood in contact with dirt and grass in your climate
will rot in no time, it is designed to do just that. I would make the
whole thing out of PT lumber and not worry at all about it. All wood,
off the ground and built so it will not stay damp for long periods will
last a long, long time. Where it cannot dry out, like in joints, and
where it makes contact with other pieces will stay damp and will rot
first. PT wood will not rot and stays nice. You need to stain it, or
it will crack and discolor. Best to use solid wood stain. You will need
to refinish every few years, but mainly just where the sun hits it.
My son built this picnic table when he was in HS, and it's been in Pgh
weather ever since, about 15 years. It been refinished 2x and only the
top parts, never flipped over to refinish. Takes about 15 minutes to
rough sand and 20 minutes to repaint, but only if you leave it go long
enough to need some sanding, which you will. You need to leave it out a
year or two before staining, to insure it is dry when stained, or the
stain will not hold up. It is fastened with galvanized bolts and deck
Here it is unfinished:
and 15 years later, finished:
If you own a Texas oil well, you might be better off using Teak, but use
PT where anything is sitting on bare NY ground.
Add Life to your Days not Days to your Life.
Agree with using PT for ground contact and pretty much for any bracing
that you will not make normal skin contact with.
Did you get the wrong picture, this table is not the same as the one
referenced directly above. Top and seat supports are on the inside on
one and out side on the other. And the top and bottom material do not
seem to be the same thickness in both pictures.
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