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Western Red Cedar "outside" table

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Project by Mike Throckmorton posted 09-10-2014 08:17 PM 1750 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Western Red Cedar "outside" table
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A long time ago (in this galaxy thank you very much) while on a bike ride, I passed a deck/patio table someone had tossed by the side of the road. Though whole, it was moldy/mossy anything that could grow on it had.

But, we had recently had our deck picnic table demise so I put in a call to the recovery crew (wife, daughters) to bring the van to fetch it home. It sat in the back yard for maybe a year waiting for me to get to it. And I did. Rendered it down into its component boards and hardware and with a belt sander took it down to actual wood. If there was enough remaining wood to be structural, I’d put it back together, put some spar varnish on it and, yay, a table.

It did, I did and a table we had. That was maybe 10-12 years ago and time caught up with it. Some of the table top boards were pretty thin, and nothing was particularly attractive any more and I couldn’t really take any more wood off to do a decent re-finish. I had sanded to get the peely’s off and refinished every couple of years as needed.

Original table:

So I designed up a new table with roughly the same shape and dimensions to be made out of WRC. I made a couple of small outdoorsy casual side tables (tops 12’x12”, height about the same) to experiment with the look and working procedures for WRC. Looked nice, easy to work. Soft, though, which taught me some being careful with the wood procedures.

The inspiration for the materials were the bundles of quarter-ish sawn WRC deck stiles Lowes sells. Pretty straight, pretty square, nice looking and pretty reasonably priced. (about $2.50 for each 1 1/4×1 1/4×48” piece). A little surfacing for pretty and glue surface and ready to go. With a bundle of 6 of these you can make one of those little tables in an afternoon, FYI. Nice project for a beginner (for example, me). I made two of the tables and one has been sitting outside for two years with no issues. Still wipes off nice. Waterlox Marine finish holding up nicely so far.

So to Lowes and about $600 later I had the materials (a bunch of the stiles, some 5/4 WRC boards, a couple 4×4 cedar posts).

Pile of stiles:

The concept being to make the top out of the milled definitively square stiles laminated side by side to make an edge grain top about 46” wide and 66” long. Surround this with a 5” wide support structure edging, central beams (2) running down the middle 3rd of the table and two across under the longways beams to support them onto the table base. Since my desired orientation of the laminated stiles was perpendicular to the length, it would be floppy long-ways without sufficient support.

Since I’m one of those dreaded don’t plan every little detail beforehand” type of wood-workers (I do wayyyy too much of that at work) I just have rough drawings with basic dimensions, so no sketch-up drawing to post. Pictures will have to do as I get them.

Squared and smoothed stile pile:

Gluing up table top sections (6 total, 8 stiles per for a section width of 11” and total table length of 66”):

Sections done:

Gluing up supporting border pieces:

Done with basic top components. Let’s lay some out.

An edge piece profile (main table section rides on ledge, top is flat with edge of edge):

Don’t worry about the end of the section pictured, the ends are waste. They will be cut to length on a bevel later on.

Raw top with some edges:

Gluing up the top sections into the top:

I actually glued up sections of 3 sections into halfs, then the two halves into a whole.

It was nice and flat, too so at least it will start out flat-ish.

Not pictured was the creation of the supporting “beams”. Laminated WRC 5/4 into 2 1/4×2” 66” and 48” length beams. Nice and sturdy. I actually hand planed the main long beams into a gentle arc 1/8” total over the length. A flat table will not drain off rain water very well, so I figured a very slight dome-ing was in order. Should be pretty undetectable except to water.

Here’s the glued up top with the table shape shaped (nipped off 45 deg. corners about 14” in). You can see the length ways beams peeking out in one of the pix. And yep, those puppies are screwed and glued to the top. we can take bets on what happens. With the way I arranged the graining, I have no real idea. Wood will move, no question. I do tend to experiment and am prepared to deal with any consequences. That’s life.

That’s waterlox marine finish on top of waterlox marine sealer. Go marines. Just one application so far, as the final finishing will wait till assembly complete. Protecting from glue. Once glue gets on that cedar, if it sets up at all it’s not coming off without taking wood with it.

The length-wise beams are notched to receive the ledge of the edging.

Attachment of the edging done. Need to put makeup on some of the mitered joints. Disappointed with a couple, happy with most, considering it’s me and all.

The edging attachment. Clamping on an angle is fun. I like it.

And done:

Next is dressing the couple of uncrisply closed miters, flip top over and attach cross beams (long-ways ones are on). Put a couple additional coats of finish on bottom. Flip again, round edges as needed with router, sand, apply a few coats of waterlox, set aside and make base. Sounds easy.

Here’s some additional in-progress pix.

Support beams attached to bottom, reinforcement around umbrella insertion point (or “hole”):

Laminating stretchers:

Legs going on:

Stretchers:

Showing how base is attached (couple o’ bolts into threaded inserts):

Clamping pictures are always fun:

(Time passes)

Well, I finished it the week before Christmas and moved it outside to its home on the (very cold) deck. The top structure is bolted onto the base so that it can be removed for moval purposes. That worked fine. It’s pretty heavy so two pieces is better than one.

Finished and in new home (December):

A few days ago (after a couple months of snow, heavy snow, freezing rain, multiple days of wayyy below zero weather:

It’d been soaked, hard frozen and thawed a few times and has not yet exploded, though there’s no doubt that flaws will occur over time.

We have yet to sit down at it, obviously, though most of the snow has melted off. It was invisible for a while inside a mass of snow.

Fred is the cat, BTW. Fred is one reason the table is so beefy. When he jumped on the old table, it….bent.

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.





8 comments so far

View GrandpaLen's profile

GrandpaLen

1643 posts in 1733 days


#1 posted 09-11-2014 03:27 PM

That’s a Great looking Table Top!

Do you have any history with ”waterlox marine finish on top of waterlox marine sealer” that you could share, just Cedar or have you used it with any other types of wood in outdoor projects?

Best Regards. – Grandpa Len.
Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Mike Throckmorton's profile

Mike Throckmorton

124 posts in 1125 days


#2 posted 09-11-2014 05:55 PM

Hi Grandpa Len!

Thanks! And I sure hope it looks ok after I’m done putting the edging on it. And then after the winter outside…

I’ve used the two products separately only on either pine (an exterior wooden screen door I cobbled together) and cedar (WRC and yellow tacoma).

On the yellow tacoma I used on a small table, after living a year or two (Michigan winters/summers) out on the deck, I got some peeling. Not enough to clean and re-apply though. No apparent degradation on the small WRC tables I used it on. May have to do with differences in the oils in the wood. I understand that makes a difference in coating adhesion.

With this (bigger expensive table) I am using both products as the manufacturer suggests. Seal with the marine sealer then final coat with the marine finish top coat.

I like the waterlox as one can just clean the surface of peel, dirt etc and slather on some new. The new melts into any existing (waterlox) finish.

One day I’ll make some white oak Adirondack chairs and on that day (or the next) I’ll put on some waterlox.

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.

View GrandpaLen's profile

GrandpaLen

1643 posts in 1733 days


#3 posted 09-12-2014 02:28 AM

Mike,
Thanks for the informative response.

I am a transplanted Michigander, born, raised and lived in the central Michigan area for 31 years. I’ve always been an avid woodworker, encouraged by my grandfathers’ and my father’s woodworking.
Contracting for the major telecommunications companies for several years took me to many parts of the US and the one thing I’ve found to be common place is film finishes on wooden projects left to the outdoor elements is a crap shoot at best, the exception being the top quality marine finishes used on beautiful wooden boats. Even these finishes require regular maintenance. That being said, I’m happy to learn something new today from your post.

”I like the waterlox as one can just clean the surface of peel, dirt etc and slather on some new. The new melts into any existing (waterlox) finish.”

I’ve often wondered what the Michigan State Parks Department used to keep their heavy Pine Picnic Tables so well maintained.

Thanks again for your info and response. – Len
Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Mike Throckmorton's profile

Mike Throckmorton

124 posts in 1125 days


#4 posted 09-16-2014 07:33 PM

Hey Len,

It’s getting cold here already. Summer went blip.

Not looking forward to another winter like last. Couldn’t even keep glue in the garage (my shop) it got so cold. Brrrrr….

Making progress on the table, though. It’s not impossible I get it finished while it’s still warm enough to eat outside.

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.

View GrandpaLen's profile

GrandpaLen

1643 posts in 1733 days


#5 posted 09-17-2014 01:23 PM

I’ve often wondered (in silence) if Jesus the carpenter, only just smiled when a mitered joint didn’t come together the way He had planned or wood movement opened an unsightly gap in a finished project. :-)

I can remember cooking on the grill well into late October in Michigan although that meal was served in the warmth of the dinning room.
I’m certain that your new table will be much admired come Spring and Summer when the temps again rise and welcome family and friends to share a meal in the bright sunshine.

Best Regards, throw another log on the fire. – Len
Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Mike Throckmorton's profile

Mike Throckmorton

124 posts in 1125 days


#6 posted 03-05-2015 05:36 PM

I did finish this project, BTW. It’s just that getting the pix from phone to the right computer was more annoying that it should have been.

Excuses. Gotta million of them.

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.

View Mike Throckmorton's profile

Mike Throckmorton

124 posts in 1125 days


#7 posted 03-05-2015 06:11 PM

Oh, and I added pictures. We like pictures.

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.

View GrandpaLen's profile

GrandpaLen

1643 posts in 1733 days


#8 posted 03-05-2015 06:21 PM

“It is done”

Those 3 words put a smile on my face, 99% of the time.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

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