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Forum topic by fatty posted 12-17-2012 10:12 PM 859 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 1476 days

12-17-2012 10:12 PM

Has anyone ever used Red Elm for outdoor furniture projects? I’m going to try my hand at some Adirondack chairs and I’m just not a big fan of cedar.

10 replies so far

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

3270 posts in 1702 days

#1 posted 12-17-2012 11:40 PM

I wouldn’t waste my time on red (or any) elm. Almost anything would be better. If you don’t like any of the cedars, any of which is one of the best choices, go with mahogany, teak, or yellow pine. Composites are also a possibility.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL There are three types of people...those who are good at math and those who aren't.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2035 days

#2 posted 12-17-2012 11:43 PM

How about white oak? I’ve use elm (made my bench from it) but wouldn’t choose it for outdoor furniture.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5183 posts in 2662 days

#3 posted 12-17-2012 11:59 PM

Elm…not good for outdoor stuff….I’d ” El Paso ” on it…..find something else…...

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

View eaglewrangler's profile


61 posts in 2004 days

#4 posted 12-18-2012 12:34 AM

there are a number of naturally rot resistant woods, the tropicals like purple heart IPE and others, but they are harder to work and I burned some IPE in a plug cutter and it was worse than pepper spray. But there are a number of native woods that are rot resistant as well. Locust, while not native, is plentiful here and I use it in outside stick style and for bench legs. plum is very resistant, and less so cherry. I like the white oaks, especially chestnut oak (which tend to grow slower and tighter grained).
Even so I have used hickory and ash and other woods in outdoor benches from slab cuts. Understand that they have a limited use, around 10 years, which compared to the metal patio furniture my wife got, which is rusting after just a few years, seems like a decent time.
So your elm may rot in a decade, but keep them out of the dirt and they might outlast your car and refrigerator and washing machine.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2035 days

#5 posted 12-18-2012 12:42 AM

I’m not sure I’d worry so much about the elm rotting away, a good finish will take care of that, elm is pretty unstable with moisture changes. Its ok for internal stuff. Outside…....not so much.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Monte Pittman's profile (online now)

Monte Pittman

22049 posts in 1805 days

#6 posted 12-18-2012 03:25 AM

For outdoor furniture I don’t see it. I have quite a bit of elm and it takes patience to work with. Warps easy. BUT, it can be very beautiful if taken care of properly.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View WDHLT15's profile


1572 posts in 1943 days

#7 posted 12-18-2012 03:36 AM

BTW, black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia is native and would be the second best choice for this use. Osage orange would be the best, but it is very hard to get.

White oak would be my choice. Elm has spiral grain and wants to twist and warp with moisture changes, and the moisture changes in outdoor furniture can be extreme.

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

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5183 posts in 2662 days

#8 posted 12-18-2012 05:06 AM

Osage orange is what the Native Indians used to make their long bows with….not sure about the arrows…..

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

View moke's profile


862 posts in 2244 days

#9 posted 12-18-2012 04:30 PM

Elm always has made my shop seem bad…...

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 2770 days

#10 posted 12-18-2012 08:52 PM

I have both white and red elm. Old references says Red is better than White but both should be kept off the ground. Paint should take care of that. Same source says black walnut (heart only), American Hop Hornbeam and Black Locust. I’d be sure the RE was dry and flat. You will be disappointed if you expect to hold its form like Oak or Ash. I will try cypress next summer. Try the Red Elm —if it doesn’t work out you’ll have the most gorgeous firewood.

Red Elm has a distinctive odor when worked indoors—- think of Cub Scouts putting out the campfire. It was very difficult to dry—2 years in bole, two years in warm, dry garage. Ripped thin on bandsaw and just before the end of the cut WATER came out of the pores? I’ll wait a while longer. On Wisconsin, Steve

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

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