Need some advice on finishing an Adirondack

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Forum topic by colynjames posted 12-03-2012 05:10 AM 880 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2241 days

12-03-2012 05:10 AM

First of all, hello to all of you…I just signed up for an account, and I’m a novice woodworker. I’ve been lurking and checking out all the projects, and there are some terrific craftsmen and artists here!

My first real project is an Adirondack chair made from cedar. I chose cedar because of the good outdoor longevity if it’s left unfinished, but I’d like to protect it further to help it keep more of the “new” look, and not let it gray out so quickly. I’ve seen some chairs finished in a light tung oil, but my father-in-law tells me it isn’t going to last. I’m fine with periodically re-applying the tung finish, but I thought I’d get opinions on long lasting options that will keep it looking “new” for some time to come.

I have cut, rounded the edges, and sanded everything, but have assembled nothing, because I’d like the finish to be applied on every surface, including the areas that are going to be joined. Any advice on a particular finish or the procedure to apply it would be appreciated.

BTW, I am using all stainless steel screws on this project to keep potential rust stains to a minimum as well, so if that will affect any finish options, please let me know. Thanks!

5 replies so far

View PRGDesigns's profile


244 posts in 2554 days

#1 posted 12-03-2012 07:08 AM

I have successfully used Flood’s CWF (Clear Wood Finish) on several outdoor wood projects. All I use is SS fasteners on anything that has a possibility to be outdoors and that choice has never affected my finish choice. For me, the CWF is available locally at Lowes in gallon and 5 gallon containers. Welcome and best of luck.

-- They call me Mr. Silly

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3104 posts in 2527 days

#2 posted 12-03-2012 07:40 AM

Check out dacrotized screws, they’re better for the environment.
I use spar on my chairs or I leave them plain so who ever buys them can do whatever.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View colynjames's profile


4 posts in 2241 days

#3 posted 12-04-2012 11:31 PM

Thanks for the advice. I already had the stainless hardware on hand, but I’ll check out those screws. My wife decided that she doesn’t want a finish applied, and we’ll see how this one weathers. She thinks I can just whip another one out with no problem…but it will be interesting to see how it fares. I hope to build some outdoor patio table and chairs, which I will stain and seal. The comparison should be interesting.

Thanks again!

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3104 posts in 2527 days

#4 posted 12-04-2012 11:37 PM

They will be okay if you don’t leave them out in the direct sun or other places that get harsh weather. They will get dirty and the dirt will work into the pours. Some surfaces may need to be sanded next year. Mold will also be a discoloration issue. I have what I didn’t sell last year in my shed under plastic so I’m hoping they will still look good.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 3105 days

#5 posted 12-05-2012 07:58 PM

Marine spar varnish is good stuff. But its expensive. I would do as some have suggested and if possible cover the chair or bring it inside for the winter and harsh weather. Doing this will prolong the time between touch-up finishing.

Another tip I saw on an Adirondack build was the author used epoxy around the lower couple of inches and bottom of the chairs legs/feet. Those areas tend to sink into the ground and are at the most risk for rot and splitting.

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