Cypress Revisited

Chris Marshall photo

It’s always sweet to build a project from a species I haven’t used in a long while. I’ve got an opportunity to do that right now. In our June issue of Woodworker’s Journal, I’m making an outdoor project from cypress. The wood is creamy blonde in color, lightweight and mildly pungent when cut or sanded. It also can deliver slivers that are imperceptibly small yet surprisingly annoying. Southerners love it for its resistance to decay and its thrifty pricing.

The physical characteristics of wood often take me back to previous projects made from the same species. The last time I used cypress, my then-teenage daughter helped me make an Adirondack chair we painted bright blue. She’s now out of college and just started her second “big girl” office job.

Many years before that, there was a curvy garden bench made of “sinker” cypress that I built for the magazine around 2004. It was my first experience with this Southern belle. The lumber was reclaimed from a Louisiana river bottom and had once been a piling from a Civil War-era railroad bridge. It was gray, gave off a strong briny fragrance and was covered with barnacle damage on its edges. What a rare treasure! That bench is still in great shape in the backyard, 20 years later, and it still smells salty if you scratch the surface.

Wood evokes powerful memories. And I think it measures us in many ways, including time.

Chris Marshall, Woodworker’s Journal

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