Substitute for mahogany/cypress? - Router Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-22-2012, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Default Substitute for mahogany/cypress?

For my first woodworking project I'd like to build The New Yankee Workshop's adirondack chairs to have some seating on the back patio. Norm used cypress the first time he made his adirondack chairs, mahogany the second time. I've been having trouble locating mahogany near me (Boise, ID).

I don't know much about sourcing wood for projects, so maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places. Boise Cascade and Weyerhauser have presences in town, but I suspect those are wholesale-only. Woodcraft, True Value, Lowe's, and Home Depot are all within 10 minutes of home. So as an aside to my main question, suggestions for places to find wood would be helpful.

Secondly, I get the impression mahogany is expensive and cypress harder and harder to find these days. What are the properties of these species that make them good for outdoor furniture (anything special besides basic rot-resistance?) and are there decent alternatives I might find in the northwest that are cheaper?

Thanks,

Trevor
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-22-2012, 11:24 PM
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The cheapest and best alternative you have is red cedar which is fairly common in the northwest. On the westcoast, cypress is also called yellow cedar. It's a little harder than red but I don't know how they stack up against each other weather wise. I thought I saw Norm make one out of teak. Definitely too expensive but probably the best overall choice. You might be able to find a small sawmill around that could supply you with red cedar. Check your yellow pages or ask your local Forest Service if there any such mills.
It should still be treated with waterproofing after you finish. Thompson's water seal would work but Flood brand is probably a lot better (and it's more expensive).

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-22-2012, 11:32 PM
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Try and do a Yahoo search "Cajun Cypress and Hardwoods" not sure but they may ship or call 1-800-261-4193.... I use them alot very nice people to deal with....Or in Your neck of the woods Cedar may be available and it is usually cheaper but I prefer Cypress... Cajun Cypress sells a product called TWP which is a waterproofer of sort and is by far the best I have found yet for all my swings and outdoor furniture I have been building in the last 3 years.... Cypress is a excellent wood for outdoor projects and will last a long time with minimal care

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to you both. I wasn't sure if a sawmill would sell to retail customers like me, so thanks for the suggestion. Turns out there's an Idaho Timber headquartered 3 blocks from my house and they specialize in--drumroll please--Red Cedar. Nice! For my first project I think it will be good to stay away from the exotics, and frankly, Adirondack chairs look great in any wood in my opinion. Especially after seeing the nasty plastic ones at Home Depot.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 08:28 AM
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Thanks to you both. I wasn't sure if a sawmill would sell to retail customers like me, so thanks for the suggestion. Turns out there's an Idaho Timber headquartered 3 blocks from my house and they specialize in--drumroll please--Red Cedar. Nice! For my first project I think it will be good to stay away from the exotics, and frankly, Adirondack chairs look great in any wood in my opinion. Especially after seeing the nasty plastic ones at Home Depot.
Weyco and Boise Cascade would probably not sell to individuals but one like you found usually do because they make a little more by not having to ship. Good luck with the chair and yes, there is no comparison between wood and plastic. Adirondacks are easy to get into but harder to get out of so make sure you have a good woodworking mag and a couple of cold ones when you settle in.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-07-2012, 03:25 AM
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The cheapest and best alternative you have is red cedar which is fairly common in the northwest. On the westcoast, cypress is also called yellow cedar. It's a little harder than red but I don't know how they stack up against each other weather wise.
My brother-in-law runs a small sawmill. He sells a lot of Cypress to farmers for fencing - posts/rails - because it doesn't need treating and lasts for years, even buried in a muddy hole.

It's pretty much indestructible.

Weathers to a fine light gray colour down our way (NZ South Island - home of MASSIVE UV )

I think it would be fine untreated or oiled.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-04-2012, 09:40 PM
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I've used a lot of Cypress on outdoor cabinets and furniture and it is fantastic to work with. It machines great and weathers well. Just be aware that it changes radically with the humidity so you always have to leave room for expansion. If you use it indoors where there is a/c it will shrink way beyond what you think possible. I had a cypress door shrink 3/8" in six months (in width). Contact one of your local cabinet shops and find out where they buy their lumber. If you make friends, they may even allow you to buy through them.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 03:39 AM
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Trevor; for future projects you need to find a supplier to the cabinet making shops. It'll likely be a wholesale but if you buy in reasonable quantity, and understand the conditions under which hardwood is sold, they'll likely sell to you...times are tough and a sale is a sale, eh?
You're looking for a place similar to this:
PJ White Hardwoods Ltd.
The places you've been looking at specialize in construction lumber, not woodworking.
The big lumber companies sell what they cut; D.Fir, Hemlock, Spruce, Pine, Western Red Cedar.

As far as the chairs are concerned, Yellow cedar is far stronger than red and very durable. Yellow-Cedar || Yellow-Cedar Lumber & Products from Island Cypress on Vancouver Island, BC
Up until the '40s almost the entire West Coast fishing fleet was built from Yellow cedar. Apparently teredos don't like it.
Try talking to a boat builder re sourcing some of these woods. Mahogany and Yellow cedar are always required for repairs on classic old boats.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 03:41 AM
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-05-2012, 03:51 AM
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