Oak vs. Pine coffee table (newb) - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 12-16-2015, 09:32 AM Thread Starter
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Oak vs. Pine coffee table (newb)

Full disclosure - I'm not a terribly experienced woodworker. What I've done is mostly things like kitchen cabinets and storage boxes. I'd really like one of those lift-top coffee tables, but every single one I've seen in a store has the top WAY too high when sitting on a couch. I feel like a little kid sitting at the grown-ups' table. So I'm going to bite off more than I can chew and attempt to make my own.

I'm trying to decide what sort of wood I should use for it. Most places I look at would suggest I need my head examined to build it out of anything other than oak. But my local Lowes sells a fairly attractive 2'x4' glued pine panel (which is the exact size I need for the top):
http://www.lowes.com/pd_470409-833-0...uctId=50053147

If I go with oak, I assume I'm going to have to buy a biscuit joiner and learn to use it in order to make the top.

I wouldn't mind the lighter weight (not to mention lower cost) of pine, but if that is simply a horrific mistake, I'll go with oak.

Thanks for any advice.
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post #2 of 21 Old 12-16-2015, 09:56 AM
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Pine furniture is made everyday. It is just a matter of your own personal preference for a choice of wood.
Pine has pros and cons. So does Oak. Pine is a soft wood. Oak is is hard.
Using a frame and panel design, you could use Oak plywood if you didn't want to glue-up the top, front, back, sides and bottom. If you want the top to be made of solid wood, be prepared for some glue-up and some planing.
Your design of your chest/coffee table can be a factor in making your wood choice.
Good luck.
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post #3 of 21 Old 12-16-2015, 10:05 AM
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Oak is 3x harder than pine, so this will become evident over long years of use. I have a desk that stained dark pine, and after 15 years, the top is dented, dinged, and pitted. If it'd been oak this wouldn't have happened. If you want to minimize cost, make the top out of solid oak and then make the legs and frame pine. This works well too, since much larger, thicker lumber is easily available and cheap in pine.

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post #4 of 21 Old 12-16-2015, 10:07 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, TM50. I'd like to rout (is that the correct spelling?) the edges of the top, so plywood might not work so well. The more I think of it, I'm leaning toward pine. If, in the end, I wish I'd gone with oak, using pine initially would allow me to build a practice table.
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post #5 of 21 Old 12-16-2015, 10:55 AM
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Furniture is made with both Pine and Oak everyday. It's your personal preference. Pine is soft and Oak is hard. Using the Pine panels from Lowes can get expensive. You will need top, bottom, front, back and two sides. Another choice would be to build your chest/coffee table using a frame and panel construction. This would allow you to use plywood for the panels. Less expensive. But if you want to make the top from solid wood, be prepared for some glue-up and some planing.
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post #6 of 21 Old 12-16-2015, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toolman50 View Post
Furniture is made with both Pine and Oak everyday. It's your personal preference. Pine is soft and Oak is hard. Using the Pine panels from Lowes can get expensive. You will need top, bottom, front, back and two sides. Another choice would be to build your chest/coffee table using a frame and panel construction. This would allow you to use plywood for the panels. Less expensive. But if you want to make the top from solid wood, be prepared for some glue-up and some planing.
I'm unable to edit anything this morning on my I-Pad, I apologize for the repetition.
Look at frame and panel construction. This will allow you to route the edges of the top. A 4X8 panel will cost less than the glued pine panels.
You can use A grade Fir, Birch or Oak ply.
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post #7 of 21 Old 12-16-2015, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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I'd only use the one glued panel for the top. The rest would be a mixture of boards and plywood.

My design is based on this photo I found. I've marked it up to show what materials I'm using where.



(Edit after seeing your latest post: I'll look into frame and panel construction to see if it'd be an improvement on what I'm doing.)

Last edited by enchant; 12-16-2015 at 11:17 AM. Reason: saw new post
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post #8 of 21 Old 12-16-2015, 01:40 PM
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As one who is not far beyond newbie status myself, I'd go with pine, rather than oak. Pine is easier to work with, and yes, it's softer, but there's a lot of furniture (e.g. Early American style) made from pine. It's also lighter, but the design you posted looks substantial enough that made from pine it should be plenty hefty.

As a newbie and recent newbie, I always make mistakes- it's easier for me to accept and redo mistakes in cheaper wood than the expensive stuff, so for that reason alone, I'd go with pine. If this project is a big step forward for you, use it as a learning experience. If you like the results in pine, and want to move up to oak, you could sell or donate the pine unit, and use the skills you learned for the next project.

BTW, if you decide to go with oak, your money would be better spent on a tool other than a biscuit joiner. Yes, it makes it easier to line up boards for a slab top, but reasonably careful attention to clamping provides the same results. If you don't have them already, a jointer and thickness planer would be much more useful tools for this project. Just my .02 Good luck!
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post #9 of 21 Old 12-16-2015, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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jdon, you make some very good points. Thanks for posting!
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post #10 of 21 Old 12-16-2015, 04:27 PM
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I dunno about pine being easier to work. It is a soft wood, so it cuts marginally easier than oak would, but it doesn't stain well, has a tendacy to splinter when routed and tends to gum up saw blades with sap. I'd recommend swinging with oak, or ash if you can find it. I'm actually a big fan of ash, its durable, hard, takes a stain well, works easy, and looks nearly identical to oak for half the price.

Oh, and a biscuit jointer is completely nonessential for gluing up a panel. Heck, there's a lot of people who would argue it doesn't even make it easier. All you need to make a panel is some long clamps and a way to put a straight edge on a board

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post #11 of 21 Old 12-16-2015, 06:17 PM
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if it was me I well use oak case it well last longer thing pine yes it a pain to work with but it worth it when you get done with it
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post #12 of 21 Old 12-16-2015, 09:52 PM
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Thank you for posting the picture of your plan. Great looking table. It is a frame and panel construction like I've been suggesting in my post above.
This table will look good in any wood type you choose.
I'd build it out of Birch.
The plan says it has laminate on the top. I'm guessing you've decided to not use laminate on the top.
Because if you were going to use the laminate, you wouldn't worry about the wood for the top.
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post #13 of 21 Old 12-17-2015, 07:44 AM Thread Starter
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The plan says it has laminate on the top. I'm guessing you've decided to not use laminate on the top.
That's right. I think the top looks very cool, but I'm afraid the inlaid laminate thing they've got is beyond my abilities at this point. Once I get the table done and live with it for a while, I might decide to take a crack at that sort of top and replace the glued panel.

An additional benefit of the raised top on this is that if it does get banged up, it would just be a matter of removing a few screws to replace it.

Last edited by enchant; 12-17-2015 at 07:46 AM. Reason: Thought of something else...
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post #14 of 21 Old 12-18-2015, 05:44 AM Thread Starter
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This is a slightly different question and maybe deserves its own thread.

In the photo of this coffee table, most of the edges of the wood have been slightly rounded. I like the effect. Is there a term for this? Should this be done with simple hand sanding, or would I get a more consistent result using a router bit? And if so, any guesses which bit this might be?

Thanks again for the help.


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post #15 of 21 Old 12-18-2015, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enchant View Post
This is a slightly different question and maybe deserves its own thread.

In the photo of this coffee table, most of the edges of the wood have been slightly rounded. I like the effect. Is there a term for this? Should this be done with simple hand sanding, or would I get a more consistent result using a router bit? And if so, any guesses which bit this might be?

Thanks again for the help.


I would guess a 1/4 round over router bit. If it was me I would just sand the edges with sandpaper, attached to a block, or, I use an auto repair shop rubber sanding block that has the points on each end to hold the paper.
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post #16 of 21 Old 12-19-2015, 05:23 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply.

"If it was me..."
Perhaps, but you're certainly a lot more skilled than I, and I need the help from machinery.
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post #17 of 21 Old 12-19-2015, 06:30 AM Thread Starter
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I just ordered a set of roundover bits from Amazon starting as small as 1/8", so I can do some experimenting.
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post #18 of 21 Old 02-11-2016, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks once more to everyone who helped. I finally DID finish it. Not without its flaws, but it's functional.

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post #19 of 21 Old 02-11-2016, 11:35 AM
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Looks like it turned out real nice to me. So What kind of wood did you wind up with using? Also stain and finish did you use?
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post #20 of 21 Old 02-11-2016, 11:38 AM
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Wow! Very nice looking :)
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