(BPT) - Americans love their do-it-yourself home improvement projects, and the warmer months can be an excellent time to brush up on your construction skills and complete a woodworking project to grace your home or cottage.
Do-it-yourself fans in the U.S. are expected to spend some $43.7 billion toward home improvements this year, marking a 45 percent increase since 2012. And when it comes to selecting a strong yet versatile wood for those projects, many will opt for Western Red Cedar, an aromatic wood that grows in the Pacific Northwest.
The unique characteristics of the durable yet lightweight species make it resistant to rot, decay, shrinkage and insects even as it weathers over time into a stunning silver patina. The knotty species comes in several surface textures, dimensions and price points, and do-it-yourselfers report it handles like a dream because it lays flat and accepts a wide range of finishes. Further, it's a sound environmental choice because it comes from sustainably managed forests.
Looking for a useful and enjoyable woodworking project that will wow your friends and family this season? Consider one of the following gems you could construct using Western Red Cedar.
* Sharpest shed ever: Envision this compact multi-purpose shed gracing a key corner of your backyard to organize and protect your yard tools, ladders, sports equipment, recycling bins, firewood, and/or other outdoor gear. The pattern calls for 1x6 and 1x4 cladding spaced strategically to let air flow through the building so you can keep your things dry. Thanks to the superior strength and weather-resistance of the wood, your newly created storage space will last for years.
* Recliner of your dreams:Imagine kicking back with a friend - or taking a nap in the sun - on this roomy loveseat fitted with standard-size comfortable cushions that match your outdoor décor. Entertaining more than one friend? It's super easy to fold down the back so you can seat guests on both sides. This versatile and practical design, featuring modern and clean lines, is an excellent seating option when you need to make the most of your space on porches and decks.
* Dinner al fresco:The clean lines of this dining table and bench-set fit seamlessly into any indoor or outdoor décor. Imagine your family gathered comfortably around your new spacious dining area to enjoy a backyard cookout, a round of ice-cold drinks, or a birthday celebration. Since the bench and table designs match, you can build the benches first to prepare you for the larger project.
* Grow your own herbs: After whipping up this compact vertical herb garden made to lean against any wall, you'll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor for years. Merely step out on your deck to harvest your choice of fresh, flavorful seasonings for whatever you're cooking that day. Of course, planting colorful flowers in the removable containers is another great option. Perhaps best of all, because Western Red Cedar contains naturally occurring preservatives that automatically fight decay, no stain or finish is necessary; exposure to the elements will instead turn the wood a beautiful silvery color.
Ready to get started? For these and many other free downloadable project plans featuring Western Red Cedar, log onto the Do-It-Yourself Center at Realcedar.com.