Reply by Dan Krager

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Posted on Help with wood selection for cabin furniture

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Dan Krager

4704 posts in 3157 days

#1 posted 02-04-2018 03:06 AM

Of the woods you mention, birch is the most stable. Thickness doesn’t matter too much…watch the grain orientation. If you can have it custom sawn, then get it quarter sawn or rift sawn. This will produce boards that will be quite stable when properly dry for your area. Solid wood of any sort does NOT do well going from -50° F to 60° F in a matter of hours, but if you build it to accommodate the inevitable movement, it will at least hang together.

Design the joinery to be mechanical so glue failures are not lurking. This makes a large panel like a table top kinda challenging, but doable. One technique I use effectively for outdoor furniture is called generically board and batten construction. The edges of maybe three wide boards are long tongue and deep groove but not glued. On the underside a stopped french dovetail (a sliding dovetail groove) is machined in 3 or 4 places across the grain and into the top of a batten and then the top is assembled, sliding the parts onto the loose double dovetail. The battens become mechanically part of the top to keep it flat. Attach legs to aprons with pegged tenons. You could used tusked tenons for stretchers. Secure the top to the aprons with Z fasteners to accommodate movement yet be strong enough to pick the rest of the table up.


Edit: if the cabin is rustic, go with a big 2” live edge slab (quartersawn with pith) and four 4” branches tenoned through the top and wedged. Done.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL All my life I've wanted to be someone. I see now I should have been more specific.

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