Ryan Edwards eats, sleeps, drinks, and builds with mass timber. Inspired by his work with mass timber, he decided to DIY an outdoor table made from the same material he works with every day. Also, learn what mass timber is all about!
I’ve always wanted a large outdoor table for hosting big dinners in the summer. After building a new deck on our house in the spring and summer of 2021, I now had the perfect spot to put a large table.
In early 2022 I took a new role at Simpson Strong-Tie as the Senior Business Specialist for Mass Timber and Offsite Construction, and the vision for my table began to take shape. If you have not heard of mass timber, it’s an engineered wood product that minimizes defects and variation by combining many smaller pieces of timber to make a larger member. It offers great strength without having to cut large trees.
Mass timber is a catch-all term that describes a suite of engineered wood products including cross-laminated timber (CLT), nail-laminated timber (NLT), dowel-laminated timber (DLT) and glulam beams. These advanced wood products are all made with dimensional lumber. Mass plywood panels (MPP) are made using a similar process except it uses large sheets of veneer that can come from logs as small as five inches in diameter. Mass timber products like CLT and MPP are not commodity products, but rather precision-engineered, industrial components that are prefabricated offsite. Mass timber is a product that can be used in all major building components (floors, interior and exterior walls, and roofs) in tall, wood, multistory, commercial and residential projects.
Back to my table…When I started getting involved in this new business sector for Simpson Strong-Tie, I saw these CLT panels at manufacturers and on jobsites. I started thinking it would be fun to build a table out of this unique new building material. Of course I ran the idea by the household decorating manager — my wife, Holly. She liked and supported the idea, especially as this is my new business focus at Simpson Strong-Tie.
I was able to acquire a 4′ x 10′ from one of our customers, Vaagen Timbers. My contact and friend Tom Baun picked out a piece for me that had a nice look to it including an 80 grit sand. We loaded it into my truck and brought the 350 lb. panel home, calling my neighbors to help unload it on the way.
The panel was simply too large so I used a beam saw to cut it down to an appropriate size. If you have not used a beam saw before, it’s an over-sized skill saw with significantly more power.
After a quick sand and clean up, we were ready to stain. Holly chose a Minwax® wood finish penetrating stain. The stain color is a “Provincial 211.” This was the perfect stain as it highlighted the grain in the Douglas fir. There was deep color in the tight grains and lighter blond color in the open grain areas. It changed the orginal white chunk of wood to a richly colored piece of furniture.
After about a two-day drying period, I applied the first coat of urethane. After much research, I decided to use the Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane. This product offers protection from rain and moisture, as well as from UV rays. I applied five coats of urethane with light sanding between each coat. I built this in the spring, so our temperatures in northern Idaho, where we live, didn’t help speed up the drying.
During this whole process I was figuring out how to put legs under this table. While I explored building the legs myself, I found a nice unique set on Etsy that could be custom-sized. I ordered steel legs with a black powder-coat finish from a small business in North Carolina. They built a fine set for me to my specifications. It’s great when you get exactly what you ordered in the time frame promised. I used Simpson Strong-Tie Strong-Drive® SDS Heavy-Duty Connector screws to connect the steel legs to the wood tabletop.
As mentioned before, mass timber is my business focus now. I decided to share this on LinkedIn. I normally do not share personal items on social media, but I thought this was unique and was an opportunity to share my passion for mass timber as well as an awareness of our Simpson Strong-Tie® product offerings for mass timber construction.
The response has been amazing on LinkedIn. This was a very successful way to get Simpson Strong-Tie Mass Timber’s website in front of a lot of people.
I hope you enjoyed this story and I wish you well if you decide to build an outdoor table.