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kitchen worktop wood for garden furniture

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nicholaswebb

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Hello there,

i am pretty new to woodworking, so please excuse any daftness within my questions!

I want to make a garden table and bench set from hardwood, and the cheapest way of buying the wood is to use kitchen worktop wood - beech specifically. This would also help because the worktop wood they sell is wide enough and precise enough that it will hopefully help with the design i am thinking.

Is this a ridiculous idea? If not, what wood be the best way to protect it from splitting and warping once i have made it? Im happy to paint it if that wood help - it doesnt need to remain the natural colour.
thanks, looking forward to your responses!

nick
 

Harbo

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Beech is not very durable outside.
Maybe OK if you keep it covered during bad weather?

Rod
 

nicholaswebb

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Hi,

Thanks for repyling Rod.

I will definately be buying an outdoor cover for it. Otherwise, do you think just some ronseal type outdoor stain?
 

Harbo

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I find Osmo UV Protection oil works best on my outdoor stuff.

Rod
 

doctor Bob

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No way will a kitchen worktop of any variety last outside whatever you put on it or around it (except a house).
 

Phil Pascoe

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doctor Bob":7vvg0pog said:
No way will a kitchen worktop of any variety last outside whatever you put on it or around it (except a house).
Beech worktops are rubbish, even surrounded by houses! :) :)
 

nicholaswebb

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This is bad news!!! - why are they so bad? Can you be gentle as I've already bought the wood and made the table and benches...and then thought to check here afterwards! My girlfriend is not going to be happy.
 

woodbrains

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Hello,

Beech, I'm afraid is a no-no outside. Not only is it perishable, it has wide swings of seasonal movement, so any coatings you put on, will just flake off. The glue used by KW manufacturers would not stand up to the weather, either.

Can you not take the worktop back to the supplier? Even if there is some handling charge incurred, it would be better to take the hit, rather than lose the wood to the weather, which will be inevitable, I'm afraid.

Take a look at garden furniture, made either commercially or bespoke. You will not find solid wood tops, as the seasonal movement across a wide slab is just too much for the wood to take, even water resistant timbers like teak. The reason table tops are made from narrow slats is not just fashion, it is a structural design imperative, that has been borne out of experience.

The most suitable timber for outdoors is probably oak, if one takes into account cost, Iroko is good too. Teak is probably most suitable, but prohibitively expensive, but all in small dimensions and regularly oiled.

Sorry I can't be more positive.

Mike.
 

woodbrains

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Sorry, You have already used the wood, so no returns.

Can you build a conservatory and use them there?!

Mike.
 

Pete W

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If you've already built them, I'd seal the end-grain with clear epoxy and put a couple/three coats of quality outdoor oil-based finish on them and call it good. Assuming you've allowed for wood movement in the design of the top, and you keep the end-grain of the legs out of the water, I can't see too many problems. Be prepared to renew the finish annually and I reckon you'll get years of use out of them.

Even unprotected pine will last a couple of years outdoors.
 

nicholaswebb

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Thanks, that sounds more like it!! Great advice..(although I do appreciate the other replies too - just not what I wanted to hear!)

I have just done the mortise and tenons so far- I was going to glue it up with gorilla glue, but I assume that would not allow for movement?? Do you think screws would be better? I was planning on putting some rubber feet on the legs to keep them out the water..
 

woodbrains

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Pete W":2qtp1cuc said:
See this for attaching table tops:
http://www.finewoodworking.com/pages/w00173.asp

The key thing is to allow the top to move across the width - if you fix it tightly to the base something somewhere is going to split.
Hello,

This is completely academic in this situation. The top will move more than the film finish will, causing it to fail, within one seasonal cycle I'm afraid. Oil is no good either, the wood has to be reasonably waterproof already for this to work.

Gorrilla glue is a good choice for the joinery, it was made for such applications and will be flexible enough for the joinery, but this is the only good aspect of the project, I'm afraid.

Can't you use the table for a good work bench for future projects, in your garage or shed? It is the best way to mitigate the situation, you will be buying/making new garden furniture at some point soon. At least you won't be scrapping your work completely, if you find an alternative use.

Incidentally, pine can in no way be compared to beech for some sort of comparison to durability. Low density softwoods do not have the wide seasonal swing in movement as high density hard wood. To make things worse, beech is one of the worst hardwoods in this respect and will pull itself apart. Pine also cotains a fair amount of resin, which gives it some protection, 'till it has leached out with the weather. Beech is devoid of any resin, or any tannin either, to give it any antiseptic properties. The finish will fail, water ingress will be rapid, leading to black staining, which is caused by bacterial and fungal attack. The fungus in question is dry rot and is airborne. Beech is particularly suseptable to it, you may have heard of spalted beech, it is the cause of this. It won't take long to turn the wood to mush, but it would have looked so awful much before this to be around for you to see.

Again, sorry, but news you like to hear is not going to make it true.

Mike.
 

woodbrains

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Pete W":3autltel said:
See this for attaching table tops:
http://www.finewoodworking.com/pages/w00173.asp

The key thing is to allow the top to move across the width - if you fix it tightly to the base something somewhere is going to split.
Hello,

This is completely academic in this situation. The top will move more than the film finish will, causing it to fail, within one seasonal cycle I'm afraid. Oil is no good either, the wood has to be reasonably waterproof already for this to work.

Gorrilla glue is a good choice for the joinery, it was made for such applications and will be flexible enough for the joinery, but this is the only good aspect of the project, I'm afraid.

Can't you use the table for a good work bench for future projects, in your garage or shed? It is the best way to mitigate the situation, you will be buying/making new garden furniture at some point soon. At least you won't be scrapping your work completely, if you find an alternative use.

Incidentally, pine can in no way be compared to beech for some sort of comparison to durability. Low density softwoods do not have the wide seasonal swing in movement as high density hard wood. To make things worse, beech is one of the worst hardwoods in this respect and will pull itself apart. Pine also cotains a fair amount of resin, which gives it some protection, 'till it has leached out with the weather. Beech is devoid of any resin, or any tannin either, to give it any antiseptic properties. The finish will fail, water ingress will be rapid, leading to black staining, which is caused by bacterial and fungal attack. The fungus in question is dry rot and is airborne. Beech is particularly suseptable to it, you may have heard of spalted beech, it is the cause of this. It won't take long to turn the wood to mush, but it would have looked so awful much before this to be around for you to see.

Again, sorry, but news you like to hear is not going to make it true.

Mike.
 

Pete W

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woodbrains":znk1hsqp said:
The top will move more than the film finish will, causing it to fail, within one seasonal cycle I'm afraid. Oil is no good either, the wood has to be reasonably waterproof already for this to work.
Oil isn't a film finish. As for wood needing to be waterproof before an oil finish will work, that's news to me.

Anyway, here's one company offering garden benches in beech:
http://www.edwardbulmer.co.uk/category. ... be72f2a839

Here's another (the bench and tabletop):
http://www.newfromold.co.uk/solid_wood_ ... niture.htm

And another (second from bottom):
http://www.jennycole.co.uk/page2.htm

Nobody's suggesting beech is an ideal wood for outdoor use, but with regular maintenance it'll work for several years.
 

doctor Bob

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Pete W":1p841l24 said:
Nobody's suggesting beech is an ideal wood for outdoor use, but with regular maintenance it'll work for several years.
It's a kitchen worktop........
 

Sgian Dubh

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woodbrains":2aid7mss said:
... The finish will fail, water ingress will be rapid, leading to black staining, which is caused by bacterial and fungal attack. The fungus in question is dry rot and is airborne. Beech is particularly suseptable to it, you may have heard of spalted beech, it is the cause of this. It won't take long to turn the wood to mush, but it would have looked so awful much before this to be around for you to see.
Mike.
Actually Mike dry rot (Serpula lacrymans) is quite a rare fungus in the wild, and it often seems to thrive best in man made conditions. It also has a definite preference for softwoods, hence the severity of dry rot problems in buildings if attacked. The initiation of spore developments requires certain conditions: a suitable food source such as wood, oxygen, warmth, and damp conditions caused by, perhaps, a slow leak in the plumbing that seeps down a wall to woodwork. This causes the MC of the wood to rise over the ‘dry-rot safe’ point of 20% quite quickly and dry rot fungus spores will germinate and grow. Most fungi need higher moisture content than this to develop, but dry rot is able to get going at these comparatively low MC levels. Serpula lacrymans prefers shelter, the sort found in building fabric, and I'd say it's unlikely to be the main attacker of a beechwood furniture item that's outside in the rain and damp.

Another significant characteristic of Serpula lacrymans is that it's a brown rot which makes it unlikely to be a contributory factor in the spalting process. Spalting is caused by an infection by two or more white rots. The different fungi attacking the wood cause different changes in colour and cause varying degrees and types of degradation. In effect these different fungi set up defined territories within the log or board. The black lines mark the edge of the territory each fungus has staked out for itself— it’s a defensive line that other fungi can’t cross. Slainte.

Edit to say, that I generally agree with every one in discouraging the use of beech for outdoor use. And a glued up beech kitchen worktop probably wouldn't last long outside unless it's only taken out and used in dry weather.
 

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