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What Screws for Outdoor Furniture?

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Forum topic by GraceAndDrew posted 01-02-2020 06:08 PM 614 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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GraceAndDrew

45 posts in 1334 days


01-02-2020 06:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: screws

Hi,

I’m building some outdoor furniture with Western Red Cedar. Should I use stainless steel screws or coated deck screws? Or, something else?

Thanks! Thanks

-- Grace & Drew Woodworking, http://graceanddrew.com


14 replies so far

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile

FirehouseWoodworking

787 posts in 4389 days


#1 posted 01-02-2020 06:17 PM

I would go with stainless steel. Cedar has some oils that may interact with the coating on some deck screws.

Cheers!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

1240 posts in 3934 days


#2 posted 01-02-2020 06:24 PM

The Western Red Cedar Lumber Association also recommends using stainless screws, although they add that double-dipped galvanized will work: https://www.realcedar.com/decking/fasteners/

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View ShopCat's profile

ShopCat

121 posts in 4695 days


#3 posted 01-02-2020 07:05 PM

I mostly use galvanized, but it seems like prices of stainless are much lower now than when I started. Be aware tho that not all stainless is good stainless. I have some rusting ‘stainless’ bolts, bought at HomeD or Lowes. I’ve never had that happen with galvanized.

-- ShopCat

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

8009 posts in 1690 days


#4 posted 01-02-2020 07:46 PM

I like SS bolts rather than screws on WRC, or Redwood for outdoor pieces. Screws will hold well initially, but with time on loints, like at the angled back of an Adirondack chair or similar, you start to get movement with any hardware with constant leaning back, sitting forward.

This just happens because the wood is softer, and the fibers are easily compressed. The screws just pull out with this movement. Bolts tend to yaw at the wood, and after a while the hole you drilled to place the bolt through becomes oblong, and bigger, then bigger yet as years pass.

So when I use cedar, or RW. I’ll drill an oversized hole, and place a spacer tube to pass the bolt through. I also use larger than what you would think you needed fender washers to grip the wood, and reduce the movement. I do these on both sides of the joint. But I have switched to mostly using White Oak for outdoor pieces, which doesn’t wear like WRC, and RW do. WO is much denser, and wears little due to hardware gnawing at it.

These fiberglass through rods work well with a 1/4 20 bolt passing through them. They are also available from MSC, and McMaster-Carr in SS if you want to go that way.

I’ll also point out up front that some will say hogwash to the wearing of WRC. I’ll guarantee that those who do will all be less than 150 pounds in weight. Folks over 250 will understand what I am saying, over 300, well most of them just go to the WO to begin with, and call WRC outdoor furniture “children’s furniture.” I’m between these days, but still have a lot of friends over 300#. Absolute furniture wreckers they are.

For SS bolts I go to Tractor Supply. Their bulk hardware prices are as low as I can find, and you have a choice of several grades. At least I do at my local TS.

Rereading I should point out on parts where movement potential is less like fastening seat pieces to the frame, back slats and so on, I do use screws there. I just use the bolts on seat frame, to back frame assemblies and so on.

-- Think safe, be safe

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MSquared

1152 posts in 1030 days


#5 posted 01-02-2020 08:12 PM

Any thoughts on repairing Teak out there?

-- Marty, Long Island, NY

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jbmaine

162 posts in 586 days


#6 posted 01-02-2020 09:40 PM



I mostly use galvanized, but it seems like prices of stainless are much lower now than when I started. Be aware tho that not all stainless is good stainless. I have some rusting stainless bolts, bought at HomeD or Lowes. I ve never had that happen with galvanized.

- ShopCat


Just an FYI on stainless. there are two different series of stainless, 300 and 400. 300 series ( 303,304,316) will not rust. 400 series has some carbon in it and will rust. The easiest way to tell the difference is with a magnet. 300 series screws, hardware will not respond to a magnet. With 400 series hardware you will feel a pull from the magnet.

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pottz

17507 posts in 2100 days


#7 posted 01-02-2020 09:46 PM

ditto on the ss,i wouldn’t use anything else.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View MSquared's profile

MSquared

1152 posts in 1030 days


#8 posted 01-02-2020 10:09 PM

Ah! I had forgotten the details on the ‘magnet test’. Last time I used it is when I bought my SS Grill. To refresh, ... if the magnet pulls a bit , it’s high-carbon and will rust. If it doesn’t, it’s higher quality, ‘true’, SS. Am I correct?

-- Marty, Long Island, NY

View GraceAndDrew's profile

GraceAndDrew

45 posts in 1334 days


#9 posted 01-02-2020 10:29 PM

Thanks everyone; great advice!!!

-- Grace & Drew Woodworking, http://graceanddrew.com

View jbmaine's profile

jbmaine

162 posts in 586 days


#10 posted 01-03-2020 02:10 AM



Ah! I had forgotten the details on the magnet test . Last time I used it is when I bought my SS Grill. To refresh, ... if the magnet pulls a bit , it s high-carbon and will rust. If it doesn t, it s higher quality, true , SS. Am I correct?

- MSquared


You got it! 300 series stainless steel will not stick to a magnet and not rust. 400 series stainless has some carbon in it. It will stick to a magnet and will rust.

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MSquared

1152 posts in 1030 days


#11 posted 01-03-2020 03:50 AM

jbmaine - Thank you! I’m making a ‘note to self’ and sticking it up in the shop!

-- Marty, Long Island, NY

View maxyedor's profile

maxyedor

40 posts in 1440 days


#12 posted 01-09-2020 05:37 AM

300 series stainless will rust as well if it’s been in contact with carbon steel, in some scenarios galvanized coatings are actually better because they’re self-healing, and thus get back some rust protection after being damaged by tools during assembly. Any stainless that’s come into contact with carbon steel needs to be passivated to remove the iron oxide from it’s surface. Hardware is generally passivated at the factory because they’re made on tool steel tooling, but then all bets are off when you install it with questionable tools. A chrome plated screwdriver, or better yet a stainless steel one will not deteriorate the 300 series stainless’s properties, if you’re going to use an impact driver you can get stainless steel impact bits. I used to design and build laboratory spaces for pharmaceutical companies, I’ve seen stainless fail for the weirdest reasons you can imagine, it’s some voo-doo witchcraft type material for sure.

The magnet trick is a good rule of thumb, but properly cared for 400 series stainless will outlast poorly handled 300 series, and not all alloys in each series perform the same way.

That said, it’s a deck chair, chances are the wood will rot long before this becomes and issue. I’d run stainless and install with stainless tools, but unless you’ve got a secret stash of “good WRC, it’s probably going to be new growth timber and not nearly as rot resistant as even the cheapie coated deck screws.

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GraceAndDrew

45 posts in 1334 days


#13 posted 01-15-2020 07:36 PM



For SS bolts I go to Tractor Supply. Their bulk hardware prices are as low as I can find, and you have a choice of several grades. At least I do at my local TS.

- therealSteveN

Great tip! There is a Tractor Supply a few minutes from my house and their bulk prices are great.

-- Grace & Drew Woodworking, http://graceanddrew.com

View GraceAndDrew's profile

GraceAndDrew

45 posts in 1334 days


#14 posted 01-15-2020 07:39 PM



300 series stainless will rust as well if it s been in contact with carbon steel, in some scenarios galvanized coatings are actually better because they re self-healing, and thus get back some rust protection after being damaged by tools during assembly. Any stainless that s come into contact with carbon steel needs to be passivated to remove the iron oxide from it s surface. Hardware is generally passivated at the factory because they re made on tool steel tooling, but then all bets are off when you install it with questionable tools. A chrome plated screwdriver, or better yet a stainless steel one will not deteriorate the 300 series stainless s properties, if you re going to use an impact driver you can get stainless steel impact bits. I used to design and build laboratory spaces for pharmaceutical companies, I ve seen stainless fail for the weirdest reasons you can imagine, it s some voo-doo witchcraft type material for sure.

- maxyedor

Thank you for the tip! I learn something every time I visit this forum. I ordered several stainless steel driver bits (enough to lose some, which will happen instantly!).

-- Grace & Drew Woodworking, http://graceanddrew.com

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