Choosing Woods for Outdoor Projects

Excerpt from the Woodworking: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Skills, Techniques, and Projects

Outdoor wood furniture can survive for many years in the elements, but you need to choose wood carefully. A number of wood species contain natural oils that make them more resistant to rotting, insect infestation, and degradation from ultraviolet
sunlight than other woods. We use Western red cedar for several projects in this book, but other excellent wood choices for  outdoor projects include redwood, teak, cypress, white oak, and Honduras mahogany. Some of these varieties are harder to find in many areas of the United States and can be quite expensive. Treated lumber and exterior-grade plywood are also good options for outdoor projects, but you’ll probably want to reserve these wood products for projects you plan to paint. Treated lumber is pressure-infused with chemicals that make it insect- and moisture-resistant. Exterior-grade plywood is made with waterproof glue, so it resists delaminating when it comes into contact with moisture. Other less weather-durable woods, like red oak and pine, can be used for outdoor projects as well, but these woods must be coated thoroughly with primer and paint or other UV-protective sealers. It’s a good idea to keep projects made from these woods in an area sheltered from moisture or direct ground contact and store them inside during seasons when they aren’t in use.

Woodcarving Illustrated Magazine


Woodworking: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Skills, Techniques, and Projects is both a teacher of skills and a
source of ideas: It’s about the process and the project. In this book, you will find all of the information and project plans you need to develop a hobby that will last a lifetime. It contains great advice on setting up your own workshop and some essential background information you’ll need to know about wood.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 03

Plant Stand

Both practical and attractive, this unique plant stand will brighten up any corner of your house. The ceramic tile top is mounted on a removable tray for easy cleaning or replacement. We used inexpensive Philippine mahogany to build the base, but you can use just about any wood you choose.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 04

Porch Gilder 

The gentle rocking motion of this two-person DIY porch glider will make it one of your favorite summer spots. Built entirely of solid red oak, this charming piece of furniture is destined to become a family heirloom. Set it in a sheltered area, then sit back and enjoy! 

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 04

Double-Drawer Chess Board

This project proves that some toys simply aren’t just for kids. With its walnut case, delicate moldings, and brass hardware, this woodworking chessboard project will be the perfect complement to your cherished chess set. Our design features a pair of drawers for storing chess pieces during and after a game, and the walnut-and-maple checkered top is easier to build than you
might think.

Wood Carving a Fish - Step 03

Cedar Bird Feeder

Invite songbirds into your yard or garden with this aromatic cedar bird feeder. Our design features a wide, protective roof to keep the feed dry, along with narrow perches to discourage larger predator birds. The feeder can be mounted to a post or hung from a branch, and you can build one in an afternoon.


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