Outdoor Table. What to finish with?

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Forum topic by ScrooLoose posted 11-16-2012 02:18 PM 2115 views 1 time favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 2043 days

11-16-2012 02:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question oak plane sander finishing traditional

Good morning, All!

A buddy and I have started woodworking on the weekends (well, for over a year now) and I have a question about how to finish a table I am making that will be outside in the Louisiana weather. We have a portable saw mill and have been getting a very large amount of lumber from a tank car facility that would otherwise be throwing it away. The lumber is generally rough cut to 10” x 10” for stacking between their steel shipments, and we were told the bulk of it was white oak. We’re not sure as it is very dense, heavy wood. We have been splitting this into rough 1.5” planks, letting it dry a few weeks (as most of it is “wet” in the middle), and then planing it and building our projects. I explain all that to ask this…

In projects past I have been using outdoor spar urethane to finish my projects, but have noticed some cracking and bubbling after a few months. He finishes most of his projects with a sanding sealer, and none are outside in the weather. I have a waterproofer with a clear additive I was debating on using.

What would you experienced guys suggest for a finish on this project which will stay outdoors year-round?

-- K & K Woodworking

7 replies so far

View CharlesNeil's profile


2410 posts in 3896 days

#1 posted 11-17-2012 03:26 PM

First lets understand, your trying to finish green ( wet wood), a couple of weeks isnt getting the wood dry, at 1 1/2 thick you couldnt do that even in a kiln, so you have wet wood, and I am not aware of any finsh that will work with wet wood very well . White oak is an excellent exterior wood and will hold up with nothing on it, an ocassional washing with a 50/50 mix of bleach and water will renue it , you need to use stainless fastners, or you will have iron stains, ( black around screws and nails) , if this happens use some deck brightner, ( aka Oxalic acid) . The best product I am aware of that may help you is

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4999 posts in 2518 days

#2 posted 11-17-2012 06:41 PM

Finishing any wet wood is doomed to fail. If you start drying it, I can recommend untinted paint. This would be the #4 (or #5 in Olympic) oil exterior base. It will dry to look much like varnish, with the advantage being it is outdoor paint, and has UV inhibitors in it. You can read more about it here, this is the article that put me onto using it.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View weekendwoodworker's profile


11 posts in 2055 days

#3 posted 11-17-2012 11:45 PM

What these guys are saying is true. You will have a hard time getting green wood to last and look good outdoors. When you are working with dry wood outdoors, so far I have found nothing better than boiled linseed oil. I have a picnic table built by my dad in the 60’s out of untreated pine that is still around today. You have to use boiled linseed oil as unboiled linseed oil never really sets up and is always oily to the touch. And every couple of years you have to reapply a coat, but 50 years outside from untreated pine is pretty good. I don’t know any of the newer finishes that have that kind of track record.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2386 days

#4 posted 11-18-2012 12:43 AM

Don’t use linseed oil, boiled or not. It’ll turn moldy black on oak. Been there.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View BHolcombe's profile


180 posts in 2101 days

#5 posted 11-18-2012 08:27 PM

Dry the board first, you’re putting the cart before the hoarse. Outdoor tables are difficult enough without the added factor of drying the wood after the project is built.

I built an outdoor table for myself in Padauk, finished it in waterlox marine finish and both the wood and table are doing well outside.

View ScrooLoose's profile


3 posts in 2043 days

#6 posted 11-19-2012 05:07 PM

Thank you everyone for the advice!

I knew it was “green” when we started cutting it, but the wood is so beautiful we just wanted to start making things right away.

I will take all the advice to heart and try to store the wood away until it can dry out on it’s own, which I know is some time away from now. I can say that a few tables have already been built with this wood for indoor use at my buddy’s house, and a simple sanding sealer used on it and two months in they are OK. (I know, 2 months is no time at all.) :)

Thanks again everyone!

-- K & K Woodworking

View Joseph Jossem's profile

Joseph Jossem

492 posts in 2294 days

#7 posted 11-19-2012 06:07 PM

Sikkens is the best out door product wont crack over time.

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