© 2014 syd

Outdoor Tables + Benches

My clients have a backyard garden area that would be the envy to anyone. The landscape architect designed an elegant area where people can hang out and socialize next to freshly growing vegetables, with the smell of smoke and cooking from the grill, and enjoying good company under an arbor with fruitless bradford pear trees

The arbor  was started a few years ago and is just now getting to be filled out so my clients wanted to get a nice outdoor table to dine under. They wanted something classy that blends in with the landscape, but without being too rustic. They have a few stone sculptures that reminded me of a Tuscan winery so I started looking for inspiration in books, but all I could see were weathered and beaten up gray farm style tables. That weathered look is nice, but I didn’t think it would look good in their backyard. I also think people should grow up with their furniture and see it weather themselves through the years instead of getting furniture already weathered- their history unknown.

I took inspiration from the arched arbors. At first I wanted to incorporate arches into the design but decided that it was too obvious and predictable so I took the same elements from the supports that hold up the arches. The archway supports were made from 1″x2″ rectangular tubing, so that became my choice of material. When you step away from under the archway, the 1×2 lines going vertical becomes a strong element so I wanted to emphasize that vertical line. To do that, I let the legs shoot straight through the top so it’s visible from all around. This cohesion actually makes the two different material distinct in my opinion. In a lot of the metal and wood furniture on the market out there, the difference of metal and wood becomes kind of lost. Usually, the wood just sits on top or is let into a metal frame.

Now, the question was the wood. I was looking at using cypress, but on my drive to meet my metal worker in Elgin, I saw a sign on the side of the road ‘Sinker Cypress’. Sinker Cypress is logs that have been submerged underwater for decades and sometimes centuries. The logging industries used to float logs down the river as a means of transportation to the milling factories, but sometimes the logs sink underwater and was forgotten until recently. Recently, loggers have found these old cypress logs that have been preserved underwater due to the lack of oxygen. Sinker cypress has beautiful colors ranging from olive to gold. To read more about it, visit here.

One thing I don’t like about picnic tables is that the ends of the boards start moving and becomes misaligned. To help with this issue, I decided to add a breadboard on the ends. This breadboard will keep the many boards aligned and also helps to cover up the endgrains (end of the board) since endgrain is like a straw- it sucks up the moisture. To help shed water, the boards have 1/8″ gap between the boards. The sinker cypress is finished using Penofin, which is a type of outdoor oil designed for decking and siding. It’s not the most durable finish out there, but it’s easy to fix and maintain.

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