IPE vs. Teak... errr something else?

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Forum topic by Brian posted 04-26-2008 06:59 PM 29092 views 2 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Brian's profile


26 posts in 4693 days

04-26-2008 06:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: teak ipe outdoor dining table

Hello All,

It’s that time of year again to start thinking about spending the evenings outdoors. I would like to build a outdoor dining table to replace the painted metal furniture we currently own. I have been doing a little research on outdoor woods and wanted to run this topic by the brain trust on LJ. Any experience/suggestions on woods to use for outdoor furniture? The prominent choices I see are Ipe or Teak? Any known advantages/disadvantages to these woods… or should I be looking for something else entirely?


-- Brian, Washington

28 replies so far

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 4595 days

#1 posted 04-26-2008 07:21 PM

Well, as far as I know they are equally well suited to life outdoors. However I believe you may be able to find Ipe in larger sizes more readily. Teak is VERY hard on tools (cutting edges dull very quickly) I have a friend in Alaska who build his whole deck, Porch & outdoor furniture from Ipe and swears buy it. If it holds up there I guess it will work anywhere.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4592 days

#2 posted 04-26-2008 07:40 PM

Ipe would be the way to go. Cost and availability are the major factors.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4426 days

#3 posted 04-26-2008 07:54 PM

Hi Brian,

Ipe is a good choice. But I agree with Gary about the cost and availability. Other wood choices for outdoor furniture are cypress, cedar and white oak. These will weather well.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4729 days

#4 posted 04-26-2008 08:16 PM

I just picked up a car load of surplus wood from a local deck distributor, cost me about $2/bd foot. Ipe, some dense South American “redwood” that looks more like a weatherproof mahogany breed. I think they warranty it for two decades without a finish.

Among other things, I’m going to make some furniture out of it.

So see what your deck place has in their scrap pile, they may be willing to sell it to you cheap.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4601 days

#5 posted 04-27-2008 01:10 AM

In addition to what’s been said, Lyptus and Jatoba are other options.

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View davidm's profile


3 posts in 4658 days

#6 posted 04-27-2008 05:50 AM

I am currently working on an outdoor table and decided on white oak.

-- David

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 4595 days

#7 posted 04-27-2008 02:09 PM


I would never have thought of using Lyptus…. I guess I just made a few assumptions when people told me it was a good twin for Mahogany.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Boardman's profile


157 posts in 4365 days

#8 posted 04-27-2008 02:43 PM

Ipe, or as I call it – Organic Steel, is probably the best choice for being impervious to elements. But weight will be a factor since it’s almost 6 lbs. per bf. – monstorously heavy. The good part about that is that it will take a busload of thieves to steal an Ipe table from your back yard. Or even to move it over a foor or two.

One of the heaviest woods I’ve seen – it sinks in water. It makes this talcum powder yellow sawdust, and it’s tough to use screws on. You need to absolutely pre-drill. Make the receiving hole bigger than you usually wouldd, because it snaps screws like soda crackers.

View Brian's profile


26 posts in 4693 days

#9 posted 04-27-2008 03:11 PM

Great feedback and advice everyone… thank you.

Dan, excellent idea regarding the deck distributor. I’ll check into that.

David, keep us posted on your outdoor table.

Boardman, thanks for info… quite insightful.


-- Brian, Washington

View flink's profile


94 posts in 4324 days

#10 posted 04-27-2008 08:03 PM

If you plan to do any handplaning on it, sell tickets! It’ll raise a bunch of smiles ;-)

Drill before nailing, drill before screwing, but extra drill bits, invest in a drill doctor. Get some extra bandsaw blades and send out those cross cut saws for sharpening before you get started.

For joining, only glueup fresh cuts. You’ll probably have the best results with gorilla glue.

All the talk about end checks is greatly exaggerated. I used one coating of aussie timber oil on a nice chunk and it’s not checked to speak of. There are a couple slight openings that are too narrow for a piece of paper. They seemed to be about a quarter inch and haven’t grown at all over four years.

-- Made lots of sawdust and pounded some nails. Haven't finished anything, though.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4372 days

#11 posted 04-27-2008 08:44 PM

i would say Ipe. I saw it on this old house and they said it would last for 50+ years. plus i think its cheaper and teak will destroy your blades. especially hss blades. they do dull carbite too.

View Boardman's profile


157 posts in 4365 days

#12 posted 04-28-2008 12:19 AM

Update – I was planing some Ipe today and it creates the most pervasive fine dust I’ve ever seen. As bad as drywall dust.

View ben's profile


158 posts in 4474 days

#13 posted 04-28-2008 04:07 AM


It seems to be less commonly used, but if Locust (Black or Honey) is available in your area, you should have a look. I know a few people that have used it extensively for outdoor work—from fence posts to furniture. I haven’t seen the fence posts, but locust is reputed to have better rot resistance than green-treated lumber. In central NY it costs me $1.50/bf (greenish to partially dried—this guy doesn’t keep it on hand long enough to dry it). Also, I believe it’s the hardest wood native to North America (Janka scale). I’m drying a few pieces to work with right now, but won’t be able to tell you about my experiences with them until the end of summer.

Oh—and some of the locust pieces I’ve seen were absolutely stunning. Locust can have amazing grain color.


(Late addition)

Here’s a nice link to some locust pics:

View jcees's profile


1078 posts in 4403 days

#14 posted 04-28-2008 05:01 AM

First off, let’s dispense with any notion of ”working” either Teak or Ipe. You, my friend, will be ”machining” these two. Hand tools are an exercise in futility and folly. If all I had was Teak and Ipe and ONLY hand tools with which to work them, I’d take up jogging. That said, use a mask, heck, maybe even a respirator if you have to work inside. Watch the fresh sawn edges too, either species can put out some wicked splinters. I have pushed a plane on both but I think that sort of abuse to tools is unwarranted and besides, I’m the one that has to resharpen those blunted edges.

So I vote for Ipe. Teak is great but in short [expensive] supply. I’ve got a porch deck made of Ipe that I put on more than ten years ago. It has exceeded all of my expectations. With little intervention on my part it will in all likelihood last longer than I will. It is covered and west facing but is still gets plenty wet here in FL. Mama wants the wet-look [it turns chocolate brown] all the time but I prefer the soft gray when dry. End checks are insignificant. Ipe is heavier than teak and as stated previously will dull your cutting tools just as quickly if not sooner. I burned up three countersinks drilling screw holes and two plug cutters making bungs.

ALSO, if you use either one, use ONLY stainless steel fasteners. No-Corrode, coated, hot dipped galvanized will without exception FAIL in short order. I used all three when I first put down the deck. I hesitated in plugging all of the screw holes as I wanted to make sure the screws would hold up as I’d heard about Ipe’s tendency to eat up plain steel fasteners. Three years into it and I found significant degradation to every one. Some even would have to be drilled out as they snapped off when I tried to unscrew them. They were just eaten up. Since replacing them with SS, I have checked over the intervening years and none have degraded. In other words, I should’ve used SS right off the bat and been done with it. But nooooooo….

So now I guess I’ll have to plug them holes like the missus prefers. Maybe one more season. Also, if you want to finish your Ipe, search out some Penofin. They make a coating formulated specifically for resinous tropicals like Ipe and Teak. Hope some of this helps.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 4322 days

#15 posted 04-29-2008 05:47 PM

Ipe is an amazing wood, and exceedingly hard. Very pretty too – very walnut-like.

-- Have a blessed day!

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