Questions about outdoor project/sealing drawers

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Forum topic by Gavel posted 08-17-2009 04:36 PM 1496 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 3378 days

08-17-2009 04:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: potting bench cedar sealant staining drawers humidity finishing

So, my first project is going to be a potting bench for my wife, which will live over the summer on our deck, which faces east. Obviously, I plan to make it out of cedar. My primary questions are:

(1) Does the cedar need to acclimate? For how long? I read that wood should acclimate for several weeks to the indoor environment but this is going to be outside.

(2) I would like to include some drawers and/or possibly a cabinet, where she can store some supplies such as garden shears, which contain metal that should not be exposed unnecessarily to the elements. Are there any products/materials I should consider to seal the drawers/cabinets to prevent rainwater or excess humidity from getting in? Or this just a bad idea and she should keep her shears in the garage?

(3) What should I use to stain and seal the wood? Just ordinary decking water seal?

(4) Can I get away with decking cedar for something like this, or should I get higher quality material?


-- "If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind, whom should we serve?" -John Adams

2 replies so far

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 3605 days

#1 posted 08-17-2009 09:07 PM

First things first… is this potting bench under some sort of roof or overhang? If the bench is being hit by precipitation, then you might want to reconsider or consíder some sort of design to keep this out.

1) you have just to make sure the wood has somewhere between 12 and 16 percent… leave it in the garage or outside (covered away from rain hitting it) and it should be fine.

2/3) You can try all you want, but short of dipping the wood in wax, you are not going to keep the moisture out… its in the air. And thats the beauty of cedar, it does not need any sort of sealant, its naturally resistant to rot. There are roofs that are over a hundred years old, shingled with natural cedar. thats pretty impressive if you ask me. You can try to make so the cedar does not turn gray with time and weathering, but that is a process you have to do every year or every other year…. in my opinion, its cedar, its wood, it turns gray thats that. As to drawers or cabinet, well, as I said before, if you are getting direct rain on it, you might want to consider a different location, or simply design so that rain does not get in (to the drawers, or behind the doors), or build a roof over it.

4) cedar decking should work, as long as its good quality wood, why not? cedar is cedar…. Just make sure you buy wood that is FSC certified, this means that trees are planted when cut down and that they controll that the logging is done properly and not just clear cut and move on to the next section of forest. This is a good thing.

Just a last thought although after seeing your signature thing at the end of your post, (and at the risk of being branded a hippie or something) the answer to John Adams question is quite easy… Nature! With out it we die. Nature without us, lives on. And thats just the way it is and why FSC wood is good to use.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View CaptainSkully's profile


1601 posts in 3728 days

#2 posted 08-19-2009 02:41 AM

I’ve found that attempting to seal the moisture out seals the moisture in. Cedar may swell seasonally and bind a drawer, so leave plenty of clearance. I’ll be making us a set of camping chairs and plan on using good old Thompson’s Water Seal (they sponsor the woodworking shows I watch). The only issue with using decking cedar that I can think of is that you’re limited on dimensions. Good luck & keep us posted.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

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