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Thread: Cypress porch table...yay or nay?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    Benton, Ky
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    84

    Cypress porch table...yay or nay?

    The wife and I are moving into a new house in a few weeks. It has a massive covered back porch right off the kitchen/dining area, and I plan to use it as an extension of our dining area.

    I want to build a trestle table for the porch because ... well, why not?

    I am considering building it from cypress, but I have only a little experience with cypress. I built my wife a flag stand for her landscaping a few years ago. It looks very nice now that it's got that weathered gray.

    So the other day, I pulled out a scrap from that project and I couldn't believe how lightweight it was. Like, crazy light. Now I'm wondering, is cypress strong enough for a table? Let's assume there'll be people sitting on it at some point when the bottle is getting low. Can it withstand the abuse?

    Anyone have much experience with it?

    The plan is a trestle table of about 6 feet long with two benches.

    There's a local sawmill that saws a ton of cypress for whatever reason. I can get rough boards that are 2-inches-plus thick. I was going to use that for the benches and the undercarriage of the table and shoot for something like 1 1/8-1 1/4 inches thick for the top.

  2. #2
    Sounds like typical non - heart cypress. Only the old heart wood is heavy. Since the table will be on a porch, and not a deck, I don't see any need to alter your plan. But I would use chairs. Benches are for road side tables!

  3. #3
    Curtis, I'd like to get my hands on some cypress and I live about 20 miles south of Benton. What's the name of the mill that saws cypress--location would be nice too.

    Jim

  4. #4
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    Cypress pine is not native to the usa. Most likely its imported from Australia.
    Last edited by Stewie Simpson; 05-10-2016 at 5:20 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Camden, SC
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    Cypress is a native speces in the SE US. Getting harder to find though. Cypress has been used to make outdoor furniture for generations; should be fine for yor table.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    It'll work fine. We're finishing up a Heart Cypress reproduction roof on an 1850 house and work buildings. The original roof on the house lasted for 131 years before someone put tin over it, and it's only a 4-1/2 in 12 slope. I can't post a link here, but feel free to look at the shingle page on my website. It has a few pictures of the old roof we found under the tin.

    Cypress shingles were standard fare in the 18th and 19th Centuries in the South. Between 1774 and the Revolution, 16 million were shipped out of the port of Edenton, which really wasn't much of a port compared to the other main ones.

    The best wood comes out of trees grown in a swamp, but it's protected, being in wetlands, in most places now. It grows fine without having its feet in water, but the heart wood is not as good quality.
    Last edited by Tom M King; 05-10-2016 at 8:24 AM.

  7. #7
    Cypress makes a fine landscape tree. Like many, I thought it only grew in water; actually it's more like it tolerates constant water. Almost impossible for cypress to be damaged by ice as it drops needles early and leafs out late. I love mine and always get a kick out of a neighbor telling me that mine "is dead".

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Kansas City
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    I have a baldcypress in my back yard, and see plenty around. I understand they will grow as far north as Minnesota.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    USA
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    I remember cypress was one of Norm's favorite wood for outdoor projects on New Yankee Workshop. If you are concerned with its strength simply take an appropriately sized board and set it up between two 2 x4's and then stand on it. If it breaks then its no good. If it doesn't sag too much then you are good to go.

  10. #10
    I used Louisiana cypress for 10x10 timber frame members in our house. One bent is exposed to the elements on porch; it has greyed due to minimal finish, but no signs of damage in 5 years. IIRC, a naturally occurring chemical in the wood, cyprocene (sp?), is a natural preservative. The grain is 'big', so it works well visually with longer viewing distances of vaulted ceilings.

    I purchased some in the form of 4/4 planks for miscellaneous trim. From handling this material, I think the 4/4 would be fine as bench seat. Just limit the span between legs to no more than 3-4 feet. And 8/4 in a table top should support a harvest moose AND 6 drun... er, I mean friends.

    Also, IIRC - - forestry council or similar says USA cypress is collectively growing faster than its being harvested.
    Last edited by Malcolm McLeod; 05-10-2016 at 1:36 PM. Reason: sustainability

  11. #11
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    Of interest; Cypress grown in the USA has a very low janka hardness of 520 lbf , compared to Australian Cypress Pine that has a janka hardness of 1375 lbf.

    http://www.sandmanfloors.net/Janka_Hardness_Chart.html
    Last edited by Stewie Simpson; 05-10-2016 at 11:06 PM.

  12. #12
    Most of the cypress we see in lumberyards in the SE is commonly referred to as "pond cypress". It is second growth lumber and has virtually no heartwood except for the largest trees. It is often used successfully as raw wood in vertical applications like siding. It makes beautiful indoor panelling in a T&G application. Cypress was commonly used as a secondary wood in furniture making of old in the SE.

    It lacks the rot resistance of heartwood and is generally not suitable for a horizontal outdoor application like a table, however, if sealed and waterproofed under a porch roof it should do fine.

    Heart cypress is much harder to find and very expensive. Most all of it is sawn from sunken logs pulled from rivers. Quite beautiful wood if you can find it.
    Last edited by Robert Engel; 05-11-2016 at 8:00 AM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    I know of two 240 year old houses, a hundred miles apart, in Eastern North Carolina that are sitting on Cypress blocks for a foundation. The soil is sandy there, so that probably matters.

    I worked on one of those in 1977. It had untreated Pine steps on one back corner of the house. Termites had eaten those steps. The termites came up into the back corner of the Heart Pine frame, and eaten the sap wood off the corner post. The 3 foot cube of Cypress was still setting untouched under that corner of the house, sitting directly on the ground.

    The density varies so much that I don't know how they can assign a Janka number to it.

  14. #14
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    Jan 2009
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    Williamsburg,Va.
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    Cypress grows wild around here. Near water IIRC.

    So,Stewie,in one post you say that American cypress is from Australia. In another you point out a vast difference in hardness of the 2???? Does not compute!!

  15. #15
    I just kayaked thru the northern most stand of US cypress in Trappe Pond state park in Delaware. Beautiful and eerie... Its available in SE Pennsylvania because of its use in the mushroom houses. I built a blanket chest with cypress from a little mill in Mississippi; very pretty stuff.Quiltchest.jpg
    The quilt on this chest is carved also...

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