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Cypress - insights on using for a project

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Forum topic by BB1 posted 08-11-2017 01:55 PM 1229 views 1 time favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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BB1

780 posts in 626 days


08-11-2017 01:55 PM

I have started the planning process for a small project in our mudroom. I would like to avoid staining and therefore want to select a type of wood that will look good with the other colors we have in that space. I wandered a local hardwood shop yesterday (I cannot believe I actually did not make a purchase! That may be the first time) and I noted some cypress. The color and grain would be good for my project. I looked up some information online and see it is used a lot with outdoor projects. Also read that it is considered a sensitizer. Has anyone worked with this type of wood and had allergy issues? If I wear my dust mask, as I typically do, I’m assuming that I would not have any problems. One other question is on how this type of wood cuts – I had worked with some hickory and found it a bit difficult, even though I love the color and the end products. Another option might be cherry but the cost is much higher so looking at other types, including the cypress. I appreciate any insights. Thanks!


32 replies so far

View ScottM's profile

ScottM

546 posts in 1924 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.

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BB1

780 posts in 626 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

1587 posts in 425 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.

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BB1

780 posts in 626 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

546 posts in 1924 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.

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BB1

780 posts in 626 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

555 posts in 1398 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

824 posts in 553 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

3319 posts in 2029 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

780 posts in 626 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

546 posts in 1924 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

780 posts in 626 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

1587 posts in 425 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

780 posts in 626 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 Rick_M's profile

Rick_M

10243 posts in 2158 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)

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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