Outdoor Bench using White Oak - Member Assistance Requested

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Blog entry by MJCD posted 07-11-2012 01:28 AM 3068 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m turning to the Forum’s collective wisdom – which is much greater than I can hope to understand …

My wife has asked me to build an outdoor bench, and I’m thrilled by the prospect. I’ve downloaded detailed plans which could result in a heirloom piece, if I build it properly.

The wood choice confronts me: Sipo, Teak, White Oak, Jatoba; and not pressure treated. I’ve looked at other species, but these are the ones which appear common. The Teak is outrageously expensive ($22/bft); the Jatoba appears to eat machinery; I cannot find the Sipo (near Baltimore/DC) – though I’ve seen 5 different authors videos whom have used it. The White Oak appears to be a cost-effective; structurally-effective solution.

Has anyone in the group built an outdoor bench with White Oak; and if so, what is your experience, and what type of Finish did you use? I’ll use a PC7 or similar glue; as I will need more working time than TBIII offers – I’m not very good at sequencing glue-up; and this single project has more M&T joints than I’ve done in my life time – fortunately, I use a Festool Domino (Sipo dominos) for this project.

Thank you, in advance, for considering this and offering your advice.

9 comments so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4144 days

#1 posted 07-11-2012 01:48 AM

I wouldn’t be shy of the Jatoba from its reputation of being hard. I work with a lot of it and my HD Diablo TS blades have no trouble with it. My planer, cheapo router bits likewise. I think it got a bad rap before all cutting edges were carbide. It is one of my favorites to work with.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Nicky's profile


724 posts in 5545 days

#2 posted 07-11-2012 03:07 AM

I agree with gfadvm, jatoba has a bad rap but my experience is that it machines well. Last purchase of Jatoba was about ~$5.50 bd/ft vs ~$3.00 bd/ft for white oak.

I have two benches in my front yard, built 20+ years ago with white oak, and no finish. They have turned a sliver/grey and look good. They get used a lot. If you use a finish (oil stain and/or spar varnish) I would plan on doing maintenance every so often.

I don’t know what PC7 is but I have used DAP Weldwood Resorcinol waterproof glue with great results. It has a long open time.

Festool Domino…nice!

-- Nicky

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 4052 days

#3 posted 07-11-2012 03:18 AM

Made a few with white oak a couple yrs ago. Still going strong, just silver/gray with time. Ipe might make a good choice too. Very hard, but lasts a LONG time.

View BigTiny's profile


1721 posts in 4342 days

#4 posted 07-11-2012 08:36 AM

How about cypress? Great out door wood.


-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View MJCD's profile


624 posts in 3825 days

#5 posted 07-11-2012 12:13 PM

Many Thanks for the consideration and comments.

The information I’ve reviewed on Cypress is that of a great outdoor wood, though somewhat softer than the Teak/Sipo/Jatoba – I’ll recheck the Janga Hardness Scale; also, I’ve been told that Cypress has excellent working qualities.

The Jatoba has more of the color I’m looking for, compared to the White Oak.

The PC7 is a two-part glue – I saw a video by AskWoodMan in which he used PC7 for an external door: I liked the working time and clean-up – I’ll need to do more homework on this. To-date, my higher-quality pieces (Blanket Chest, Executive Desk) have been indoor projects, and I’m out of my depth (not too much of a stretch) on quality outdoor pieces.

Thanks, again.

View Arthouse's profile


250 posts in 4104 days

#6 posted 07-11-2012 01:30 PM

I ve used all three and had great results. Cypress is tricky because if you don’t get the old growth cypress it will eventually rot. Jatoba is a great hard and very heavy for a bench, White oak is great and hard too. Both are so hard they will last a lifetime. Jatoba is much harder to work with because it is harder unless you have commercial machinery to mill but a favorite of mine to carve with. White oak is cheaper and just as good. I ‘d choose Jatoba if you can afford it.

-- "The hand is the cutting edge of the mind but the wind and sun are the healing factors of the heart

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 3919 days

#7 posted 07-11-2012 05:19 PM

Call exotic lumber in Gaithersburg / Germantown MD to see if they have Sipo, he has lots and lots of wood species, and I go there often for great wood.

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View MJCD's profile


624 posts in 3825 days

#8 posted 07-11-2012 07:56 PM


Thanks – I was able to find it at Exotic Lumber, Annapolis, under Sipo’s other name “Utile” – the price is $7.50/bf, and that’s ok… based on the recommendations here, I may opt for a first bench in White Oak (at about 1/2 the cost); then build a second with the Sipo or Jatoba. I’m still a novice by most definitions, and don’t want to mess-up $200 of wood—- still, I love the challenge it presents!

Again, my thanks to the members sharing their experience and advice – it’s a great forum

View MJCD's profile


624 posts in 3825 days

#9 posted 07-13-2012 02:25 AM

A final comment – going to Exotic Lumber, Annapolis – a company I’ve done several transactions with – yielded too little 6/4 Sipo for the project; and not enough White Oak. They had plenty of Jatoba, so I purchased the necessary amount.
As I type this, I’m concerned that my equipment will meet its match – the Dewalt DW735 planer is still HSS blades, as is my jointer (PW 6”). We shall see. the upgrade costs to the Shelix cutter heads are not in my budget.

I will keep the Forum posted; as this is A Long Day’s Journey into Night for me.

Everyone – thanks, and Do Take Care.

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