Garden bench Woods

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StephenK

New User
Stephen
Kicking off a new project, a garden bench for my wife for Mother's Day. Curious as to everyone's thoughts about wood and soil contact. Off the top of my head there's black locust, but it's probably hard to find quickly. Does ipe or teak offer rot resistance with soil contact? I'm thinking of making the legs out of this type of lumber, and the rest of the bench out of white oak. I know there are potential epoxies and Pt "lumber".

The design will will be Japanese/Arts and Crafts/Krenov style.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
Stephen, are you talking about a sitting bench or a potting-style bench? How big is the garden? Which direction will the bench face in the garden?
 

StephenK

New User
Stephen
An outdoor sitting bench/park bench/garden bench. Facing north/east, but confused why you ask the direction.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
Prevailing winds, rain, and sun directions.

White oak, red cedar, teak, cypress are all ok for outdoors. I would set a brick or flat stone under each leg to slow decay and pests.
 

Richard Bradford

New User
Richard
I recently completed a traditional English garden bench & used cypress. Debated applying finish or not . . . and ended up doing so. Cypress was used b/c I have an Adirondack chair that's been sitting on the ground for over ten years with no rot. Cypress was purchased at the Hardwood Store.
 

StephenK

New User
Stephen
I thought about a stone "foundation" too, but it would be better if the bench can be moved around without worrying about putting it back on the rocks.
 

redknife

Chris
Corporate Member
I still have a bunch of ipe planks if you are interested you can pm me. Ipe is a good choice but comes with some unique challenges. Any gluing is a potential problem. Ipe won't work well with all outdoor finishes. If you want thicker legs ipe has less availability in thicker stock. It is hard on tools and hard to sand. On the plus side it should last a very long time.
 

StephenK

New User
Stephen
Thanks, Chris. I haven't laid out the design yet, but I'll certainly reach out to you once I do. I do like the color of ipe.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
Prevailing winds, rain, and sun directions.

White oak, red cedar, teak, cypress are all ok for outdoors. I would set a brick or flat stone under each leg to slow decay and pests.
Mike echoed my thoughts on why I ask about facing direction.

I think it might be an interesting build using cypress for the legs and the offered ipe for the actual seat.

It will be interesting to see what you finally end up doing.
 

TENdriver

TENdriver
User
I recently completed a traditional English garden bench & used cypress. Debated applying finish or not . . . and ended up doing so. Cypress was used b/c I have an Adirondack chair that's been sitting on the ground for over ten years with no rot. Cypress was purchased at the Hardwood Store.

Richard, Looked in your album. Any photos of your build?
 

Jeff

New User
Jeff
Black locust, cypress, and white oak are good choices with the latter two being readily available well before Mothers Day (May 7). The bench will be in the elements 24/7 whichever way it faces so...

Cypress was used b/c I have an Adirondack chair that's been sitting on the ground for over ten years with no rot. Cypress was purchased at the Hardwood Store.
1. Unfinished is zero maintenance and probably good for +/- 10 years. It'll take on a grayish pewter like look like most weathered woods that are unfinished.

2. Finished with whatever is much higher maintenance every 1-2 years to keep it looking presentable and it's also probably good for +/- 10 years. Epifanes marine spar varnish is high quality, flexible, and expands/contracts with moisture changes without cracking and peeling. Do NOT get the spar varnish crap at the BORGs!

3. There are some useful design/joinery tips as well (shed the water, use 316 SS screws).

http://www.finewoodworking.com/membership/pdf/17857/011233044-revised.pdf
 

StephenK

New User
Stephen
Black locust, cypress, and white oak are good choices with the latter two being readily available well before Mothers Day (May 7). The bench will be in the elements 24/7 whichever way it faces so...



1. Unfinished is zero maintenance and probably good for +/- 10 years. It'll take on a grayish pewter like look like most weathered woods that are unfinished.

2. Finished with whatever is much higher maintenance every 1-2 years to keep it looking presentable and it's also probably good for +/- 10 years. Epifanes marine spar varnish is high quality, flexible, and expands/contracts with moisture changes without cracking and peeling.

3. There are some useful design/joinery tips as well (shed the water, use 316 SS screws).

http://www.finewoodworking.com/membership/pdf/17857/011233044-revised.pdf
thanks, Jeff. The link you posted requires a log in.
 

red

Papa Red
Red
Senior User
Cypress is good and affordable. But if you have a lot of wind in your area, cypress is light and your bench could blow over (mine did many times). I like to use white oak for outdoor use. Heavy and it can take the elements with ease. Good luck.

Red
 

redknife

Chris
Corporate Member
Something like this. Thinking a little ipe in the center of the back would be a nice focal point?
Don't want to be "the Ipe guy" but I'd consider cypress or white oak for the "frame" and Ipe for the bench slats and back supports.
 
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