Reclaimed Cypress for Desktop

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Forum topic by Lsuwhodat posted 12-19-2016 01:58 PM 644 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1501 days

12-19-2016 01:58 PM

Warning: Extreme wood working newbie questions lie below*

I was given a good bit of Antique cypress. My friend was tearing down his pump shed and recalled I was looking for some wood so he gave it to me. It came off of his grandmothers house built in 1914.

Anyway to the project. I am looking to build a large l shaped desk. One area for a laptop / writing, etc. The other “L” for fly tying.

The wood is extremely weathered with raised grains, some rotted ends, nail holes, etc. I would like to preserve as much of the antique look as possible. It was also extremely nasty in the fact that it was submerged in the flooding in Louisiana in the summer. I have pressure washed it, i know, i know, cleaned it with a bleach / dawn mixture, and sprayed it down with an anti fungal spray.

Once it was dry I gave it a light sanding with an orbital sander to knock down any splinters, etc. I am trying to figure out how to go about assembling the desktop. The boards have some bows, warping. So a few questions:

The desktop itself I would rather it smooth however I am would like to keep the patina, i.e. not run it through a planer. The idea is to keep it in its existing state and just fill the larger voids, cracks, etc. I am thinking Epoxy?

Joining the boards together will be problematic in their current state die to the warping. I can cut a straight edge with my table saw, but that will not help the bowing. I have seen people cut slits down the center of the board to bend it back into shape.


4 replies so far

View Kirk650's profile


680 posts in 1666 days

#1 posted 12-19-2016 02:48 PM

Unless you just want to use that specific wood, you could visit my brother in Natchez, MS and get some reclaimed cypress that would be flatter and easier to use for your project. He’s on Facebook at 601 Salvage, first name is Mac.

Mac and I laugh that I build things and he tears things down (old houses). He’s given me a good bit of Cypress, but it is hard to use as-is, so mostly I machine it for use. Lots of nails. Tough on jointer and planer blades. I’ve found that metal detectors don’t work that well, but running a belt sander over the wood will shine up the ends of nails and make them easy to see in bright sunlight.

I think he has some old Cypress planks that are at least 14 inches wide, and maybe even wider. Much of it is pre-Civil War. And he has old heart pine, old cast iron fencing, doors, windows, and on and on.

View Lsuwhodat's profile


2 posts in 1501 days

#2 posted 12-19-2016 03:39 PM

Thanks for the heads up.

View chrisstef's profile


18119 posts in 3924 days

#3 posted 12-19-2016 04:12 PM

You can try using battens to fasten to the underside in effort to pull them flat. What I might be inclined to do is to plane the bottom of the boards to see what lies underneath the rough surface. Ya never know, ya might like what ya see. I’m not sure what a pour on epoxy finish would look like but its an option to get a smooth surface without altering the look of the lumber.

If it were me, I would shoot for a “skip planed” finish. Kind of an in between of rough cut and finish planed.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Robert's profile


4154 posts in 2399 days

#4 posted 12-19-2016 04:21 PM

You are going to have a tough time making a suitable desktop out of that lumber.

But its doable if you keep it simple like you are planning.

I think it would be possible to get them glued together keeping in mind a rustic piece doesn’t have to be perfect so whatever reasonably straight edge you can get will be adequate.

I don’t normally use them but in this case I would use either dowels or biscuits. I would use a gap filling glue like epoxy rather than standard wood glue. You can use just about any dye with epoxy.

To make it really suitable for a desk top I think you need to look at either:

1) pouring an epoxy/acrylic top
2) covering with tempered glass

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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