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Question regarding Western Red Cedar in a desk

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
So, I've decided on western red cedar as my table top with polished nickle steel legs for a mix of rustic and modern look + I like the color /smell. My question is will 1"x6" cedar have any issues spanning a 4ft section without bracing?

Edit: Going for a look like this except more rough and unfinished (sorry for small pic)

Edited by Echoa - 10/3/16 at 9:58am
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post #2 of 6
1" x 6" nominal would be 3/4" x 5 1/2". If the desk is 4' wide and legs slightly inside from there making maybe 40" of span between legs should be fine. Maybe not ideal if you were putting a huge triple monitor setup on it but for a simple desktop it should work. It will be lightweight, so it will be moved very easily. I am a big fan of adding bracing to the wall. Even a single angle bracket between the wall and desk will keep it from rocking around if you using it to lean on or accidentally knock into it. The desk itself should be plenty strong as-is, but any desk less than a few hundred pound will likely get bounced around easily when knocked into. Making it so it doesn't move much or keeping things minimal so there is nothing to have fall over would be a good idea.

If you are still concerned with strength then you could add reinforcements. A 1 1/2" - 2" rip could be screwed and glued underneath in a T-shape fashion inset from the edges. Most tables with 4 independent legs have some sort of apron running around the outside perimeter of the rectangle that the legs inhabit. You can look at other furniture for inspiration. You could also look for 1 1/4" (also called 5/4) cedar decking which is closer to 1" finished thickness. Or even cut a sheet of plywood and add a cedar veneer.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kleer Kut View Post

1" x 6" nominal would be 3/4" x 5 1/2". If the desk is 4' wide and legs slightly inside from there making maybe 40" of span between legs should be fine. Maybe not ideal if you were putting a huge triple monitor setup on it but for a simple desktop it should work. It will be lightweight, so it will be moved very easily. I am a big fan of adding bracing to the wall. Even a single angle bracket between the wall and desk will keep it from rocking around if you using it to lean on or accidentally knock into it. The desk itself should be plenty strong as-is, but any desk less than a few hundred pound will likely get bounced around easily when knocked into. Making it so it doesn't move much or keeping things minimal so there is nothing to have fall over would be a good idea.

If you are still concerned with strength then you could add reinforcements. A 1 1/2" - 2" rip could be screwed and glued underneath in a T-shape fashion inset from the edges. Most tables with 4 independent legs have some sort of apron running around the outside perimeter of the rectangle that the legs inhabit. You can look at other furniture for inspiration. You could also look for 1 1/4" (also called 5/4) cedar decking which is closer to 1" finished thickness. Or even cut a sheet of plywood and add a cedar veneer.

Awesome thank you, it's just a simple deal for a simple single monitor setup. Im must not very familiar with woods and their strength. While I didn't think it'd be a problem I wanted to make sure. I like the cedar and realize its soft and wasnt sure how that translates to holding weight and was just worried spanning the 40" or so would be a problem smile.gif it won't see much in the way of abuse or being knocked around.
Edited by Echoa - 10/3/16 at 1:47pm
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post #4 of 6
The only problem with really soft wood is that it damages easier. Putting down a mat or something in an area that is going to see a lot of use will help avoid picking up dents. You can always sand it down and refinish it every few years. I built my desk rather quickly out of random stuff I had laying around maybe 11 years ago now and I have refinished it twice. I have tried to convince myself to replace it but the thing fits me perfectly and looks fine to me. All that matters is that it functions for your needs and you like it.

I personally like to make wipe-on polyurethane with 1 part oil based poly to 3 or 4 parts mineral spirits. Takes a little more work than straight poly (~15+ coats vs 3) but it doesn't take any more time since the coats dry fast vs slow drying thick coats. It goes on much thinner which reduces the chance of bubbles and you can use much finer sandpaper to fix any mistakes so you have less of a chance of sanding all the way back to bare wood. It makes a very durable finish for working surfaces.

I have also used clear acrylic in a can on Southern Red Cedar and it came out looking great. I don't know how well it takes abuse, but it makes the wood look similar to if you soaked it with water. I'm sure other finishes can work too. Make sure to take some pics of it when you are done!
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kleer Kut View Post

The only problem with really soft wood is that it damages easier. Putting down a mat or something in an area that is going to see a lot of use will help avoid picking up dents. You can always sand it down and refinish it every few years. I built my desk rather quickly out of random stuff I had laying around maybe 11 years ago now and I have refinished it twice. I have tried to convince myself to replace it but the thing fits me perfectly and looks fine to me. All that matters is that it functions for your needs and you like it.

I personally like to make wipe-on polyurethane with 1 part oil based poly to 3 or 4 parts mineral spirits. Takes a little more work than straight poly (~15+ coats vs 3) but it doesn't take any more time since the coats dry fast vs slow drying thick coats. It goes on much thinner which reduces the chance of bubbles and you can use much finer sandpaper to fix any mistakes so you have less of a chance of sanding all the way back to bare wood. It makes a very durable finish for working surfaces.

I have also used clear acrylic in a can on Southern Red Cedar and it came out looking great. I don't know how well it takes abuse, but it makes the wood look similar to if you soaked it with water. I'm sure other finishes can work too. Make sure to take some pics of it when you are done!

I'm actually not going to finish it right away. The softness and how it picks up dings and scratches is what I want so I can age it a bit over a year or 2 naturally before I do. It's my first build so it won't be fancy but I'll definitely post pictures. I'll be adding storage space in the coming months also and a companion bookshelf.
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post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Here she is, very happy with the results is exactly how I wanted it smile.gif
Pardon the mess has to snap a pic and run to work

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