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Wood queries

Timber widths for an Adirondack chair

I am in the process of building Adirondack-style chairs. The plans call for 19mm-thick wood and lumber throughout
and the company incorrectly supplied me with 30mm-thick wood. My question is: if I make the chair from 30mm
stock and round off the edges, will this look unsightly, being so thick, or will I just have a very heavy chair?
Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.

Raymond Redelinghuys, by email


Denis Lock, our woodwork specialist replies:If the lumber company supplied the incorrect material, then rather
have them replace it. Looking at your email address, I speculate that you may be in the ‘sticks’ and that this may
be easier said than done. I would, if forced to, use 30mm material for all the components except the seat and
backrest slats. I think 19mm is too thin for the structural components anyway and I would normally use 22-28mm
material for these pieces.


At the same time, 30mm is too thick for the slats and I believe that not only would the chair be physically heavy, it would look heavy if made with slats of this size. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and my comments are subjective. I have never used slats that thick and have no terms of reference. If you have access to a table saw, band saw or thicknesser, perhaps reduce the slats to 20mm for the seat and the back rest slats, and use the 30mm boards for the rest.


For further information call 011-616-6576

Making solid wood stand out

My son and I are avid DIY’ers and have just tackled a project of hanging some lights off a
rough piece of timber purchased at a saw mill. What is the best way to treat the wood to
protect the wood but keep the natural beauty, and how would I hang this from the ceiling?

Brendan Burmeister, Pinetown


Ed replies: Hi Brendan, thank you for your mail and the excellent picture. That really is a
beautiful piece of timber. Since it is indoors and will not be exposed to the weather, a sealer,
to protect the wood, isn’t necessary. Something like a tung oil, or similar, will stabilise and enhance the natural beauty of the wood. To hang it from the ceiling you will need toggle bolts. You should be able to find a female rod to fit the screw, which will extend downwards and through the wood. Another screw will be inserted from below to secure the timber to the rod

Handcraft workshops in Cape Town

I’m new to woodworking and inherited a drill press along with some beautiful handcraft tools from my late grandfather, who was a master pattern maker in his day.

I want to learn more about the handcraft technique and can’t seem to find a good place in Cape Town to go to after hours or on weekends. Thank you again for the stunning magazine, keep it coming.

Leon Hendricks, Cape Town


Ed replies: What a wonderful idea to carry on your late grandfather’s legacy by putting his woodworking tools to good use. I have sourced two contacts for woodworking, hobby workshops and training.


Buster Tinsley from Mercury School of Woodwork offers woodworking and basic DIY courses. For more information contact Buster on 021-815-9172,
visit or email

Alternatively you could join the Western Cape Woodturners’ Association, or attend one of their workshops or demonstrations. For more information contact the chairman, Eric Thornton, on 082-465-4237.

Removing hide glue and dowels

We moved to Nieuwoudtville in 2011.  I enjoy woodworking and in this small village, there are very old houses, old people and old furniture. My enthusiasm to assist with furniture repairs has created a demand for my services. Unfortunately, some of the projects pose difficult repairs for a non expert like me. Nevertheless, I take on the challenge and do it anyway since I find the gratitude from my ‘customers’ rewarding.

My queries are:

1.  Most of the items are glued together with animal glue. How can I make the glue pliable or softer in order to remove it successfully?

2.  Drilling out of dowels seems to be a specialised process. Are there any tools available to do this effectively?

Gerhard du Randt, by email


Denis Lock, our woodworking consultant, replies: To quote from the Lee Valley website: “The distinctive feature of hide (animal) glue is its reversibility. The application of heat to a hide-glue line will soften it easily, and the injection of water or steam will increase the fluidity to the point where disassembly is easy.” If you do a Google search on ‘soften hide glue’, it will direct you to a number of articles that discuss the use of hairdryers, steamers and the like. The use of vinegar as a solvent is also suggested.


In reply to your second query, I am not aware of any tool that simplifies the drilling out of old dowels. A good eye and a sharp centre punch to mark the centre of the dowel is what is needed. Use a spur drill bit, not a metal twist bit. Instead of drilling the dowel out, why don’t you try and pull it out? Drill a pilot hole in the dowel, insert a screw, soften the glue and pull it out (like a rotten tooth) using a pair of pliers or a claw hammer.



Mariette Cooper from TimberLife replies:
We strongly recommend that all the structure poles (in ground contact) must be correctly treated CCA timber (i.e. H4 – classification) because the CCA treatment is applied via pressure impregnation assuring guaranteed protection against fungal and insecticidal attacks. Also, when using the correctly treated CCA treated timber, you will have the peace-of-mind of the roof structure not collapsing! According South African Building Regulations, it is also compulsory to only use correctly CCA treated timber in ground contact. Please refer to the South African Wood Preservers Association (SAWPA) for further information on Preservative Treated Timber – Then you only need to apply a good quality water repellent sealer to protect the timber against water ingress and UV exposure.


The product we recommend you use as a water repellent sealer on all your exterior timber (CCA treated or not) is Satinwood 28 Clear. Satinwood 28 is a matt, water repellent sealer with insecticidal and fungicidal additives that will protect your wood from water ingress and insect and fungal infestation. It is also a low maintenance product because you only need to wash off the excess grime and dirt and re-oil the surface every 6-12 months, depending on the exposure to the elements. For UV protection we suggest using our colour additive, Solv-Tint, which consists of transparent iron oxide pigments that can be easily mixed into the Satinwood 28 Clear. Furthermore, by using the Satinwood 28 with or without the Solv-Tint, you will enhance the natural beauty of the wood.


For any further assistance or information, contact Mariette at Timberlife on 012-803-8595 or email:

Outdoor timber treatment 

I am in the process of planning a roof for my outdoor braai area to allow me to enjoy it in all weather conditions. I have decided to use wooden pillars and exposed wooden beams to give it a warm, natural feel. My current dilemma comes with the selection of wood. As I want to have the wood exposed, I would like it to look as natural as possible and thus want to move away from CCA or creosote treated timber, which changes the colour of the wood. Is there any way of protecting your timber from pests and mould without sacrificing the natural look? Also, what are the risks involved with using untreated timber and only sealing it with a Woodoc product or similar? 

Gert Rautenbach, Secunda

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