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post #1 of 49 Old 01-09-2019, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Pine Furniture

I have always used hardwoods for furniture making and every so often, I see posts about using pine lumber. I'm talking furniture not work benches.
from what i can see, white pine, seems straighter then the usually warped SYP.
Anyway, when you buy lumber for furniture making from Lowes or Home Depot, what type and grade do you buy?

thanks in advance

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post #2 of 49 Old 01-09-2019, 10:44 PM
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I do not buy lumber of any type from Home Depot or Lowes for fine woodworking. Their construction grade lumber is just that, construction grade. Their hardwoods are way over priced and of very limited selection.



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post #3 of 49 Old 01-10-2019, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony B View Post
I have always used hardwoods for furniture making and every so often, I see posts about using pine lumber. I'm talking furniture not work benches.
from what i can see, white pine, seems straighter then the usually warped SYP.
Anyway, when you buy lumber for furniture making from Lowes or Home Depot, what type and grade do you buy?

thanks in advance

Tony B
Yellow pine has it's uses, it's a lot stronger than other species of pine but for furniture making it's difficult to ignore the contrast in the hard and soft portions of the grain. I find this contrast, especially in rotary cut veneers very objectionable. When I build pine furniture I just use the SPF (spruce, pine, fir) grade of wood at any building supply. Normally when you build pine a lot of small knots in the wood is a plus and construction materials have it. You just have to take the time to select the right boards.
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post #4 of 49 Old 01-10-2019, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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....... When I build pine furniture I just use the SPF (spruce, pine, fir) grade of wood at any building supply. Normally when you build pine a lot of small knots in the wood is a plus and construction materials have it..................
I see sometimes "white pine". It looks pretty stable, what are your thoughts on the matter?

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post #5 of 49 Old 01-10-2019, 12:07 PM
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to me, it's not the "stability" aspects as more towards sometimes
it is difficult to get the tool and sanding marks out of it because
it is so soft. (and dents easily with the slightest bump).
if I were to make a selection, I would suggest the knot-free #1 grade
white pine that is a bit harder, straighter and holds stain and paint better.
Poplar would be my second choice.
and that would be for shop use furniture - not the living room.

bottom line = each to his own.

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post #6 of 49 Old 01-10-2019, 05:47 PM
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In the northeast, pine(eastern white)was used lots in colonial times. Stable, wide boards, cheap and affordable. Still lots of old homes with pine flooring and cupboards. It was also the go to wood for outside trim, cornerboards etc as it held up well when painted. Also, most windows and many doors were made of pine. Northerners just didn't have cypress and syp available, so it was eastern white pine. I just finished putting my retirement shop together and cabinets had pine face frames and doors, I like the look. I can buy rough select white pine for $1.80 bd. ft. so I always pick some up just to keep around. Its a lot different then the SPF I see around here which is mostly spruce with lots of little knots. For a simple shaker look , pine can be a great alternative for things like chimney cupboards, blanket chests, hall benches. So what if it dents, gives it a lived with look. Probably wouldn't use it for table tops, but I have seen a few old farmhouse type of tables that were pine, I think they were made from old growth stuff though.

I'll admit to buying an occasional piece of clear pine from Lowes in an emergency, it can be nice stuff but pricey. But if you are not able to mill your own wood, then it might be your only choice.
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post #7 of 49 Old 01-10-2019, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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I havent priced out red oak lately but abut 5 or so years ago, it was the same price in the Houston, Tx area as clear pine.

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post #8 of 49 Old 01-10-2019, 08:58 PM
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I havent priced out red oak lately but abut 5 or so years ago, it was the same price in the Houston, Tx area as clear pine.
Hi Tony,

As John S. shared, this is very nebulous topic. Frost also shared some observations that kind of outline my work with Pine.

First, what I would add, is I don't think you will be disappointed with any project you do with pine. Its a great species, not matter the grade, as long as your expectations..."match the grade"...of the lumber you do get...

From a building perspective (mine that is and tradtional) I can share that from a global perspective...more has been built (and is built today) with soft wood conifers than they ever have been with hardwoods. From timber frames and huge old floors to harvest farm tables and cupboards...Pine (and here in New England...White Pine) is and was the "go to" species of choice and very often still is for many (most in some areas) projects...
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post #9 of 49 Old 01-10-2019, 09:48 PM
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I see sometimes "white pine". It looks pretty stable, what are your thoughts on the matter?
Yes, white pine would be fine. It's the pine that is in the SPF grade of wood. If I'm selecting through wood I'm more likely to choose spruce though. It generally has smaller knots than white pine or balsam fir. The larger knots sometimes fall out even years after you build something with it.
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post #10 of 49 Old 01-10-2019, 11:15 PM
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Around my neck of the woods (central Michigan) good clear furniture grade pine costs me more than any clear hardwood I buy from local lumber suppliers.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
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post #11 of 49 Old 01-11-2019, 03:13 PM
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SPF, of course, means "spruce-pine-fir", which means the wood could be any is one of the three, right? How can you tell, just from looking at a specific board, WHICH of the three woods it is? Or are they all close enough that it doesn't matter?

... turning perfectly good wood into firewood every day ... :smile3:
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post #12 of 49 Old 01-11-2019, 07:56 PM
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Not just P. strobus...and SPF species are very different...

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...Yes, white pine would be fine.It's the pine that is in the SPF grade of wood...
P. strobus (White Pine) is not the only species of Pine represented in the acronym SPF. It can be any number of Pinus species depending on region, distributor, etc..

P. banksiana (Jack) P. contorta(Lodge Pole) and P. echinata (Yellow) actually (over all) being more common species of pine found under this lumber designation than P. strobus in many (if not most) areas...

>>>


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SPF, of course, means "spruce-pine-fir", which means the wood could be any is one of the three, right?
Hi Chris,

Yes...you are correct...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Curl View Post
...How can you tell, just from looking at a specific board, WHICH of the three woods it is? ...
You can tell the difference if you study the different species accordingly. There are some pretty significant difference, but it can be challenging if not handling a lot of the different wood species on a regular basis...

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... Or are they all close enough that it doesn't matter? ...
Depends on application Chris...There is significant differences in their individual characteristics. As just a few examples, some of the pine species are very stable (aka P. strobus) while other are much better for flooring (aka P. banksiana (Jack) P. contorta(Lodge Pole) and P. echinata (Yellow)) Rafters in timber frames are better made of spruce, and then a second to that (usually but not always) is fir, which can also serve as primary loaded beams...

The list and reasons is long enough to fill several pages depending on application, regions and age of the forest the SPF was harvested from...

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post #13 of 49 Old 01-11-2019, 10:07 PM
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I used to own an unfinished furniture store, back in the day when it was profitable. Sold a lot of pine,,,,of course, Oak too, some maple, one cedar...then we got hooked up with a supplier who made a line of Ash furniture,,,oh, you talk about a sweet wood, had a nice subdued grain, finished really easy, and was priced low... sold a boatload of it,,,,,also sold a lot of aspen.

Side note,,, now I still build furniture and have a local family owned lumber yard that has quality wood at good prices,,,Even their cheap 2x4s are way better than anything the big boxs sell.
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post #14 of 49 Old 01-12-2019, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Jay C. White Cloud View Post
P. strobus (White Pine) is not the only species of Pine represented in the acronym SPF. It can be any number of Pinus species depending on region, distributor, etc..

P. banksiana (Jack) P. contorta(Lodge Pole) and P. echinata (Yellow) actually (over all) being more common species of pine found under this lumber designation than P. strobus in many (if not most) areas...

>>>



Hi Chris,

Yes...you are correct...



You can tell the difference if you study the different species accordingly. There are some pretty significant difference, but it can be challenging if not handling a lot of the different wood species on a regular basis...



Depends on application Chris...There is significant differences in their individual characteristics. As just a few examples, some of the pine species are very stable (aka P. strobus) while other are much better for flooring (aka P. banksiana (Jack) P. contorta(Lodge Pole) and P. echinata (Yellow)) Rafters in timber frames are better made of spruce, and then a second to that (usually but not always) is fir, which can also serve as primary loaded beams...

The list and reasons is long enough to fill several pages depending on application, regions and age of the forest the SPF was harvested from...
The SPF grade of wood is more commonly called white wood. There shouldn't be any yellow pine in it. I've certainly have never seen any. In my area it's mostly white pine, spruce and balsam fir in that order.
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post #15 of 49 Old 01-12-2019, 12:17 PM
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FWIW, I found a book that has several furniture projects using 2X4s. I built some general-purpose tables for the man cave and shop with them and sink cut-outs for tops. Nothing fancy but functional. The book title (got it at a used book store) is- Terrific 2x4 Furniture by Stevie Henderson with Mark Baldwin. Some of the furniture is very nice and I'm sure inexpensive to build.
An aside- I remember buying 2x4x8 for 84 cents each. My, how times have changed!

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post #16 of 49 Old 01-12-2019, 12:23 PM
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SPF is construction grade lumber, at least it was when I was building. Yellow pine is really brittle and will warp and bow at the drop of a hat. Yellow pine is the strongest of the pine group but hard to work with. Even in construction it was hard to drive a nail without it splitting.

FAS grade lumber is furniture/cabinet grade lumber. The way lumber is graded is way to complicated to understand by most folks, but you can look it up.

Spruce and white pine is really close in looks and weight, but spruce will have more knots. Both are way too soft and will mar with your finger nail. Spruce is used in construction, white pine isn't.

The old heart pine of years back was hard enough for flooring because the winters were colder than now days, and the growth rings were much closer together, which made it hard enough for flooring. Today's pine, no way would I use it on a floor unless it was for a rough application where it didn't matter what it looked like.

Fir is also softer now days as they are harvesting smaller trees. Check it out and see how many clear 1X12s Fir you can find now days, and if you do you will pay through the nose for it. In the 70s it was easy to find good Fir lumber and it did look nice in furniture, especially the quarter or rift sawn lumber.

Many high end exterior doors was made of quarter sawn Fir. Fir has a browner color than spruce or white pine. Fir was stronger and hard second to yellow pine. Common pine has a slight yellowish color and Yellow pine is more yellow.

If I were thinking about building furniture I would use FAS Fir or as Onefreetexan said, Ash. Ash isn't a soft wood though, it is in the hard wood class and is more stable and harder than pine but go with FAS. Ash is not a high dollar wood but is a nice wood.

Stay away from Hemlock, it looks just like Fir but it is so brittle it will split from a finish nail. When I ordered trim and they sent Hemlock, it would go back.

Pine is harder to stain than a hard wood, and yellow pine has way too much resin for paint or stain. Don't take my word for any of this, look it up for yourself. This information is just from my own experiences over the years. Things may have changed now days.

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post #17 of 49 Old 01-12-2019, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
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The first time I ever used pine was for a low book case. The shelves warped before I could set them in the dados was the first bad news I tried to use cauls to straighten them long enoiugh to slip in place - didnt work. Finally, I just made some scabs to screw the shelf boards to. Then came the staining. that also was a nightmare. I ended up painting the thing. I have never used pine again other than very large shelving to hold my refinishing furniture both before and after. When I opened a commercial shop, every so often people would come in to get an estimate to build them pine furniture. The answer was always NO Thank You.

I will note that some people build some nice furniture with pine.. That is why I started this thread in the first place. If I'm looking for an inexpensive wood, red oak is my first choice.
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post #18 of 49 Old 01-12-2019, 05:28 PM
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...There shouldn't be any yellow pine in it. I've certainly have never seen any...
Shouldn't be any yellow pine...???

In most areas it could be many different varieties of Pinus other than P. strobus (White Pine.)

I can't speak for your area...or what they "might be" calling White Pine? I see it misidentified and/or spec'd all the time on projects in other regions...

There are assuredly different regional variations, to be sure. SPF (or SPFs) in Texas where I have work regularly over the past few years is different than in New York typically for their designations regarding the Pines, and what is found there near the cost some variety of Jack Pine (P. banksiana) typically...but again...not a White Pine.

Quote:
sprucepinefir.us...What are the differences in species within the SPF grouping?

The Canadian group of species (8 total) also stretches nationwide and includes Red, Black, and White Spruce, Balsam Fir, Jack Pine, Engelmann Spruce and Lodgepole Pine, same as SPFs. SPF DOES NOT contain Sitka Spruce, Norway Spruce or Red Pine. The group adds Alpine Fir...

What species are within the SPFs grouping?

This grouping of species stretches across the northern regions of the USA. There are now 10 species that make up the SPFs grouping with the eastern half containing Red, Black, and White Spruce, Norway Spruce, Balsam Fir, Jack Pine, and Red Pine. The western species within the grouping are Engelmann Spruce, Sitka Spruce, and Lodgepole Pine.
You will note for SPFs (according to this (et al) sources again...no P. strobus (White Pine) is designated at all...

There is of course many other sources of information if one wishes to fact check further...and...I would be very interested in seeing literature and/or labels describing an SPF that is actually P. strobus White Pine? I have never once seen it but have heard about it a number of times, but each time I see a sample it fails to actually be White Pine but some other species...

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post #19 of 49 Old 01-12-2019, 05:54 PM
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Big Thanks...

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...I will note that some people build some nice furniture with pine.. That is why I started this thread in the first place. If I'm looking for an inexpensive wood, red oak is my first choice...
I have really enjoyed reading this Post Thread you started Tony...Big Thanks!!!

I truly does illustrates the diverse experiences we all have professionally and as hobbyists with the entire range of Pines that are available to us all. This thread also reflects, I would offer, how misidentification and/or species variation in characteristic can take place region to region...

As just one very good example of this is a common species of Pine in Texas and throughout the south. It is a highly variable species in what it can offer...AND!!!...how it can be misidentified and/or designated. Pinus echinata and its subspecies of Short Needle Pines (aka Yellow Pine) are a wonderful flooring wood and very sought after for other forms of furniture and cabinetry...Nevertheless, "Yellow Pine" is also a vernacular common name for Pinus ponderosa (Ponderosa Pine.) so great confusion can often take place if one isn't careful to understand specifics a client or project is specifying...

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...Yellow pine is really brittle and will warp and bow at the drop of a hat. Yellow pine is the strongest of the pine group but hard to work with. Even in construction it was hard to drive a nail without it splitting...
BigJim has given this conversation a great insight, not only from years working with wood, but also a very possible observation of the vernacular confusion that can take place. When I read his post, I had just left a room with beautiful Yellow Pine flooring, and have just recently moved a lovely Yellow Pine Dresser...

So was Jim speaking of P. echinata or of P. Ponderosa? I suspect, by his description, that he was speaking of an SPF example of Ponderosa Pine that does behave (very often but not always) just as he described it...

Great Conversation Tony...Thanks again!!!

I came back to add this because I though of it in the very beginning...Love or not the Pines, it is the "go to species" in almost every country it grows. It is the dominant building material (along with Conifers in general) for all manner of thing from Timber Frames to cabinets, and other furniture, around the globe. The Shakers, as just one of many key examples, would have been forever changed if it wasn't for the Pine Tree and what it gave them!!!
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post #20 of 49 Old 01-12-2019, 06:15 PM
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I have always used hardwoods for furniture making and every so often, I see posts about using pine lumber. I'm talking furniture not work benches.
from what i can see, white pine, seems straighter then the usually warped SYP.
Anyway, when you buy lumber for furniture making from Lowes or Home Depot, what type and grade do you buy?

thanks in advance

Tony B
For lowes and home depot, I only buy the best fast-growth red oak and poplar they have. I especially look for the stuff that has mold growing on it or the pieces that were stocked when you could tell the employees were about to finish their shift because they've tested the wood's durability for you. If you're really lucky, you can find some pieces that have been rehydrated from the leaks in the roof...makes it so much easier when working with gorilla glue and the stains give the final product a little extra character. I never saw what people have against the box stores.
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