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Cypress - insights on using for a project

by BB1
posted 08-11-2017 01:55 PM


32 replies so far

View ScottM's profile

ScottM

646 posts in 2144 days


#1 posted 08-11-2017 02:00 PM

I’ve used cypress before and did not have any sort of issues with the dust. It’s been said that newer growth cypress isn’t as weather resistant as the older stuff but my project is covered outdoors. As for working with it, I found it to be very nice to work. Sort of a “middle of the road” with regards to hardwood or softwood. Machines and sands very nicely. I’ve never really made a finished piece of furniture with it so I don’t have any knowledge with how it finishes with poly or any sort of varnish but I have seen some great photos of finished pieces.

View BB1's profile

BB1

1137 posts in 846 days


#2 posted 08-11-2017 02:08 PM

Thank you for sharing your experience. If I could, a followup question – as you noted, I had read that there is a difference between newer growth and older. Is there a way to determine this by looking at the wood? Or is this something that I would need to question the seller? Since I’ll be using it for an inside project, it likely doesn’t matter with regard to weather resistance, but it may impact the workability?


I ve used cypress before and did not have any sort of issues with the dust. It s been said that newer growth cypress isn t as weather resistant as the older stuff but my project is covered outdoors. As for working with it, I found it to be very nice to work. Sort of a “middle of the road” with regards to hardwood or softwood. Machines and sands very nicely. I ve never really made a finished piece of furniture with it so I don t have any knowledge with how it finishes with poly or any sort of varnish but I have seen some great photos of finished pieces.

- ScottM


View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2605 posts in 645 days


#3 posted 08-11-2017 02:51 PM

Given its water resistance, I used bald cypress for the base of by tool chest ... I found that it cut, planed, sanded easily with hand tools. I cannot speak to the use of power tools. Given that I work solely with hand tools I do not wear a dust mask. I did not experience any ill effects when working with this lumber.
 

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

View BB1's profile

BB1

1137 posts in 846 days


#4 posted 08-11-2017 03:14 PM

Your tool chest looks great. Did you use any stain or is that the natural color? The pieces I looked at yesterday were relatively light in color but I expect that any finish will tend to darken the wood (which would be good for my application).


Given its water resistance, I used bald cypress for the base of by tool chest ... I found that it cut, planed, sanded easily with hand tools. I cannot speak to the use of power tools. Given that I work solely with hand tools I do not wear a dust mask. I did not experience any ill effects when working with this lumber.
 

- Ron Aylor


View ScottM's profile

ScottM

646 posts in 2144 days


#5 posted 08-11-2017 03:18 PM



Thank you for sharing your experience. If I could, a followup question – as you noted, I had read that there is a difference between newer growth and older. Is there a way to determine this by looking at the wood? Or is this something that I would need to question the seller? Since I ll be using it for an inside project, it likely doesn t matter with regard to weather resistance, but it may impact the workability?

I ve used cypress before and did not have any sort of issues with the dust. It s been said that newer growth cypress isn t as weather resistant as the older stuff but my project is covered outdoors. As for working with it, I found it to be very nice to work. Sort of a “middle of the road” with regards to hardwood or softwood. Machines and sands very nicely. I ve never really made a finished piece of furniture with it so I don t have any knowledge with how it finishes with poly or any sort of varnish but I have seen some great photos of finished pieces.

- ScottM

- BB1

Afraid I can’t answer that question. Just speculation, but it may be a bit like heart pine; how close the growth rings are to one another?? The seller may be a better source based since you’re getting it from him.

View BB1's profile

BB1

1137 posts in 846 days


#6 posted 08-11-2017 03:25 PM

Ok, will followup with the folks at the hardwood store. Still need to finalize my plan (currently is a rough sketch on some scrap paper) and try to calculate how much I’ll need.

Thank you for sharing your experience. If I could, a followup question – as you noted, I had read that there is a difference between newer growth and older. Is there a way to determine this by looking at the wood? Or is this something that I would need to question the seller? Since I ll be using it for an inside project, it likely doesn t matter with regard to weather resistance, but it may impact the workability?

I ve used cypress before and did not have any sort of issues with the dust. It s been said that newer growth cypress isn t as weather resistant as the older stuff but my project is covered outdoors. As for working with it, I found it to be very nice to work. Sort of a “middle of the road” with regards to hardwood or softwood. Machines and sands very nicely. I ve never really made a finished piece of furniture with it so I don t have any knowledge with how it finishes with poly or any sort of varnish but I have seen some great photos of finished pieces.

- ScottM

- BB1

Afraid I can t answer that question. Just speculation, but it may be a bit like heart pine; how close the growth rings are to one another?? The seller may be a better source based since you re getting it from him.

- ScottM


View LiveEdge's profile

LiveEdge

584 posts in 1618 days


#7 posted 08-11-2017 03:33 PM

I’d assume all cypress is new growth these days. As mentioned, you can tell by how close the growth rings are.

View gargey's profile

gargey

980 posts in 773 days


#8 posted 08-11-2017 03:45 PM

I made a tree swing for my daughter out of cypress.

PROS: Weather resistant.

CONS: Extremely soft (will dent easily). It also splits easily. And will splinter. Can leave a fuzzy surface.

If I had to do it again I’d make it out of cherry. Stronger, better workability, and just as weather resistant.

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3547 posts in 2249 days


#9 posted 08-11-2017 03:59 PM

Cypress is widely available in south Louisiana (where I am). I’ve used it for several projects, and as noted, it is workable with either hand tools or machine tools. I didn’t have any splintering issues but I did use some old barn wood, so maybe old growth is less splintery. No issues with the dust when using machine tools either.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View BB1's profile

BB1

1137 posts in 846 days


#10 posted 08-11-2017 04:17 PM

Thanks so much for all the replies. In addition to type, it sounds like I will need to get more details on the new vs old aspect.


I d assume all cypress is new growth these days. As mentioned, you can tell by how close the growth rings are.

- LiveEdge


I made a tree swing for my daughter out of cypress.

PROS: Weather resistant.

CONS: Extremely soft (will dent easily). It also splits easily. And will splinter. Can leave a fuzzy surface.

If I had to do it again I d make it out of cherry. Stronger, better workability, and just as weather resistant.

- gargey


Cypress is widely available in south Louisiana (where I am). I ve used it for several projects, and as noted, it is workable with either hand tools or machine tools. I didn t have any splintering issues but I did use some old barn wood, so maybe old growth is less splintery. No issues with the dust when using machine tools either.

- Don Broussard


View ScottM's profile

ScottM

646 posts in 2144 days


#11 posted 08-11-2017 06:00 PM

If this is an indoor only project then “new” or “old” growth doesn’t really matter, right? Most old growth that will be able to find will be “sinker” that was pulled off the bottom of a river. It will be pricey!!!

View BB1's profile

BB1

1137 posts in 846 days


#12 posted 08-11-2017 06:30 PM

You are right that the weather resistant aspect isn’t a concern. Wondering if the new growth results in a softer, or more likely to splinter, wood. I’m pretty “new growth” myself when it comes to woodworking so trying to avoid making a selection that will make the project unnecessarily challenging. I used hickory for a couple projects earlier this year and found it a bit more difficult than other wood I have used (e.g., walnut). But, each challenge is part of the learning process and helps develop the skills and techniques I need. Woodworking is a hobby, but really enjoy being able to build things to solve a “problem” rather than buy something and try to make it fit in a space. The LJ community has been so helpful and I appreciate everyone’s help.


If this is an indoor only project then “new” or “old” growth doesn t really matter, right? Most old growth that will be able to find will be “sinker” that was pulled off the bottom of a river. It will be pricey!!!

- ScottM


View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2605 posts in 645 days


#13 posted 08-11-2017 08:08 PM

 
Thanks! No stain … just boiled linseed oil and lots of years! LOL!
 

Your tool chest looks great. Did you use any stain or is that the natural color? The pieces I looked at yesterday were relatively light in color but I expect that any finish will tend to darken the wood (which would be good for my application).


Given its water resistance, I used bald cypress for the base of by tool chest ... I found that it cut, planed, sanded easily with hand tools. I cannot speak to the use of power tools. Given that I work solely with hand tools I do not wear a dust mask. I did not experience any ill effects when working with this lumber.
 

 
- Ron Aylor

- BB1

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

View BB1's profile

BB1

1137 posts in 846 days


#14 posted 08-11-2017 08:12 PM

That’s the beauty of wood projects…get better with time!


 
Thanks! No stain … just boiled linseed oil and lots of years! LOL!
 

Your tool chest looks great. Did you use any stain or is that the natural color? The pieces I looked at yesterday were relatively light in color but I expect that any finish will tend to darken the wood (which would be good for my application).

Given its water resistance, I used bald cypress for the base of by tool chest ... I found that it cut, planed, sanded easily with hand tools. I cannot speak to the use of power tools. Given that I work solely with hand tools I do not wear a dust mask. I did not experience any ill effects when working with this lumber.
 

 
- Ron Aylor

- BB1

- Ron Aylor


View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

11626 posts in 2378 days


#15 posted 08-12-2017 03:06 AM

I was steered away from cypress for actual outdoor projects by the sawmill, he said it’s mostly sapwood these days and will rot like anything. I went with red cedar instead because there’s no fudging sapwood for heartwood. (only heartwood of any wood is rot resistant)

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View WDHLT15's profile

WDHLT15

1743 posts in 2474 days


#16 posted 08-12-2017 03:51 PM

Yes, sap cypress will rot like most other woods. To get the rot resistance, you need to have heartwood.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

9460 posts in 1484 days


#17 posted 08-12-2017 06:46 PM

You can tell heart and sap in the pics. Sap is usually bland, especially in young trees. My experience with cypress:

Machines well

Heart pine will be a lot harder than heart cypress.

It hates low angle planes.

Avoid shaving or hand planing quarter sawn areas. The early wood likes to tear out easy. You can use a card scraper with ok results if it’s sealed.

The soft early wood really sucks up finish.

Works well with bench planes if you watch for reversing grain.

Sharp tools are a must. It likes to blow out.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View BB1's profile

BB1

1137 posts in 846 days


#18 posted 08-12-2017 11:03 PM

Really like the warm color of the first table you posted. Could you share what finish you used?


You can tell heart and sap in the pics. Sap is usually bland, especially in young trees. My experience with cypress:

Machines well

Heart pine will be a lot harder than heart cypress.

It hates low angle planes.

Avoid shaving or hand planing quarter sawn areas. The early wood likes to tear out easy. You can use a card scraper with ok results if it s sealed.

The soft early wood really sucks up finish.

Works well with bench planes if you watch for reversing grain.

Sharp tools are a must. It likes to blow out.

- TheFridge


View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

18176 posts in 1854 days


#19 posted 08-12-2017 11:30 PM

Ive done quite a few projects out of cypress, plus I have cypress floors in my house. I don’t recommend the floors as they are too soft. Most of my window and door trim is cypress. This platform bed I built, plus the head board are made of cypress. It is not stained and is sprayed with minwax polycrylic. The finish worked well. I definitely recommend the wood. Old or new growth won’t make a difference in your project.
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/105071

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

9460 posts in 1484 days


#20 posted 08-13-2017 12:10 AM

Regular ol poly. Yellowed it a hair but that’s it.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View BB1's profile

BB1

1137 posts in 846 days


#21 posted 08-13-2017 12:21 AM

Looks great!


Regular ol poly. Yellowed it a hair but that s it.

- TheFridge


Ive done quite a few projects out of cypress, plus I have cypress floors in my house. I don t recommend the floors as they are too soft. Most of my window and door trim is cypress. This platform bed I built, plus the head board are made of cypress. It is not stained and is sprayed with minwax polycrylic. The finish worked well. I definitely recommend the wood. Old or new growth won t make a difference in your project.
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/105071

- firefighterontheside

Thanks for sharing that link – nice job on the platform bed.

View Quikenuff's profile

Quikenuff

64 posts in 867 days


#22 posted 08-13-2017 03:37 AM

TheFridge pretty much nailed it, but I’d like to add…

1. I prefer both the look and the workability of cypress over cedar and cherry above them all.

2. when working with long stock or resewing 8/4 stock, cypress tends to move more than any other wood I’ve worked with after milling. Plan on milling and getting to your joinery right away or mill, let it rest for a couple of days and perform a second milling process.

3. I stick to Titebond 3 for glueing cypress for outdoors, but read somewhere that it’s the better glue for oily woods like cypress and have had no issues with joints separating or delamination in Florida sun and humidity. But I’ve never tried Titebond original to say there is any difference with cypress.

My most recent cypress project. http://lumberjocks.com/projects/325577

Quik

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

9460 posts in 1484 days


#23 posted 08-13-2017 05:41 AM

Oh yeah. I forgot that about movement. Mill it. Then use it. Otherwise, don’t stack it. Sticker it in between processes. It’ll move like a SOB until you seal it. It’s like a sponge.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View BB1's profile

BB1

1137 posts in 846 days


#24 posted 08-13-2017 11:41 AM

The table is gorgeous. Thanks for the tips on handling the wood. Sounds like I’ll need to plan what steps I can accomplish on a weekend if I decide to go with the cypress.


TheFridge pretty much nailed it, but I d like to add…

1. I prefer both the look and the workability of cypress over cedar and cherry above them all.

2. when working with long stock or resewing 8/4 stock, cypress tends to move more than any other wood I ve worked with after milling. Plan on milling and getting to your joinery right away or mill, let it rest for a couple of days and perform a second milling process.

3. I stick to Titebond 3 for glueing cypress for outdoors, but read somewhere that it s the better glue for oily woods like cypress and have had no issues with joints separating or delamination in Florida sun and humidity. But I ve never tried Titebond original to say there is any difference with cypress.

My most recent cypress project. http://lumberjocks.com/projects/325577

Quik

- Quikenuff

I only have a planer. I’m assuming I should plane and then get my edges cut and pics glued up in one day to give a flat top.


Oh yeah. I forgot that about movement. Mill it. Then use it. Otherwise, don t stack it. Sticker it in between processes. It ll move like a SOB until you seal it. It s like a sponge.

- TheFridge


View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

524 posts in 746 days


#25 posted 08-13-2017 07:57 PM

My brother is exactly opposite from me. I build things, whereas he tears down things. He takes down old buildings and saves the wood (heart pine and cypress) and the bricks for resale. If anyone wants his name and number for 100 to 150 year old cypress, let me know. I’ve taken some of that old wood of his and made a few things for his kids (coffee tables and such). Even the really old stuff is soft, and it was usually used in construction of houses and as a secondary wood. I’ve even seen really old cypress doors that were painted to look like higher grade woods.

He once gave me some cypress planks that were 20ish feet long and 20 inches wide. Probably out of the Louisiana swamps and harvested in the early 1900’s. imagine the size of those trees.

Anyway, let me know if you want to contact him. He’s in Natchez, MS.

View BB1's profile

BB1

1137 posts in 846 days


#26 posted 08-13-2017 08:07 PM

I appreciate this but I’m in Missouri so will be looking locally as my project is small. Hopefully others checking this thread might benefit. How nice for you to have a source for materials.


My brother is exactly opposite from me. I build things, whereas he tears down things. He takes down old buildings and saves the wood (heart pine and cypress) and the bricks for resale. If anyone wants his name and number for 100 to 150 year old cypress, let me know. I ve taken some of that old wood of his and made a few things for his kids (coffee tables and such). Even the really old stuff is soft, and it was usually used in construction of houses and as a secondary wood. I ve even seen really old cypress doors that were painted to look like higher grade woods.

He once gave me some cypress planks that were 20ish feet long and 20 inches wide. Probably out of the Louisiana swamps and harvested in the early 1900 s. imagine the size of those trees.

Anyway, let me know if you want to contact him. He s in Natchez, MS.

- Kirk650


View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

18176 posts in 1854 days


#27 posted 08-13-2017 08:43 PM

Where are you in MO? I’m just south of St. Louis and I get my cypress at a small supplier over in Marissa IL. He has great prices…..worth my almost 2 hour drive.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View BB1's profile

BB1

1137 posts in 846 days


#28 posted 08-13-2017 09:48 PM

Thanks for the recommendation but I’m on the opposite side of the state near Springfield (I have a source there where I first saw some cypress…and got this thread going). Out of curiosity, what is the board foot price?


Where are you in MO? I m just south of St. Louis and I get my cypress at a small supplier over in Marissa IL. He has great prices…..worth my almost 2 hour drive.

- firefighterontheside


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firefighterontheside

18176 posts in 1854 days


#29 posted 08-13-2017 09:51 PM

It’s been a few years since I bought some, but it was about $2. I was just in Branson this week and drive thru Springfield because of 65 being closed northbound. I saw a woodworking shop on chestnut I believe.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View BB1's profile

BB1

1137 posts in 846 days


#30 posted 08-13-2017 10:20 PM

Yes – that is where I was looking this past week. I don’t recall their price, just that it was much less than the cherry.


It s been a few years since I bought some, but it was about $2. I was just in Branson this week and drive thru Springfield because of 65 being closed northbound. I saw a woodworking shop on chestnut I believe.

- firefighterontheside


View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

18176 posts in 1854 days


#31 posted 08-13-2017 10:24 PM

Interesting, I go to Branson often. I may have to stop into that place sometime.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Rarebreed68's profile

Rarebreed68

144 posts in 299 days


#32 posted 08-14-2017 12:23 AM

I’ve always liked working with Cypress. It machines well and is easy to work with hand tools as well. I built this door for a cabin a little west of Brunswick, GA. It is actually made from 5 1/2” wide boards, then the grooves were routed to make it look like larger planks before adding the distress and clear coating with spar urethane.

The mantle, book cases, and wainscoting are all Cypress or Pecky Cypress on this house. We built it on Sea Island, GA several years ago. I thought they looked better before the interior desacrator had the painter “white and gray” wash it.

-- EARTH FIRST! We'll log the other planets later. Trust your neighbors, but brand your calves. Opinion worth price charged.

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