Working with pine instead of hardwood?

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Hi -
I've been approached by a customer to make some furniture and furnishings from pine in kind of a southwest style (to yet be determined what that means to the customer). I've done most of my furniture building with quality hardwoods so I have some questions if you'd care to comment.
If you've done both hardwood and softwood furniture building, are there any key differences you'd like to share with me?
Do you favor the softer fir/pine or the harder southern yellow pine? Major differences?
Is there significant resin build up on your tools working with softwoods?
How do you deal with the fact that the softwood are not dried to the extent that hardwood typically are?
Where do you get your furniture grade softwoods?
Any help would be appreciated - thanks!
Les
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LesT wrote: ...

Definitely recommend against SYP for interior furniture use. It's not as attractive with much more prevalent grain and tends to split off edges and splinters far worse than white pines and related. Fir is a great wood to work but also has splinter issues if not careful about grain direction along edges.

Over time, yes. No big deal, it cleans... :)

Both together from the same distributors. If not buying just construction grade softwood it's graded and marketed very little different than hardwoods.
--
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SNIP of interesting questions...
Wow.... a real woodworking question.
Down here in the southern half of the US, like waaay down in the southern half of Texas, we are not blessed with hardwoods growing along the roadsides. Unless you start going north, our climate doesn't support them well, and they aren't native to our area.
So for many years, a great deal of furniture, projects, hobby stuff, "California waterbed furniture" (60s, 70s) were all built out of pine because it was plentiful and cheap.
Make sure you know what you are getting into when you are using soft woods; there are a lot of look alike woods that are soft, and there are some look alike woods that are hard.
At this point down here, we are probably in the same boat you are when buying soft pine. We go to the hardwood supplier and buy it from him. That way we can see it, touch it and make sure they didn't sneak fir, hemlock (miserable, miserable stuff) or different runs of pine in.
My personal experience (read: what I have bought around here for the last 30+ years) is that pine is not dried nearly as well or uniformly as hardwoods. It moves more, and certain styles of construction that will allow for wood movement (breadboard ends, non captured inserts in cabinet doors, expansion areas on cabinet backs, etc.) must be used. Pine will shrink, but then in humidity will also go back to size.
I have had the best luck using pine if I let it dry out for about 6 months in a well aired place before using.
Since pine is softer, it will splinter and dig easier than many hardwoods. But with sharp saw blades and edged tools, it is like cutting butter, a real joy. It is easy to sand to shape when you want to ease over a corner or match one profile to another.
Depending on when your wood was cut and how it was processed, soft woods can be quite resinous. Plan on changing sandpaper often. When we were doing pine cabinets (mid 70s?) we used to soak our saw blades and steel router bits in a pan of kerosene to get the resin off of them. It wipes off easily the next morning if you do. Obviously, there are better things to use these days than kerosene. The bit cleaner from Eagle America works quite well.
When you finish any softwood, you should plan on a conditioner of some type unless are just applying a clear finish of some sort. Most softwoods don't take stain evenly, and a conditioner will do the trick to keep it the absorption of the color even.
My personal experience is that pine will amber more quickly to yellow if it is finished with varnishes, polys, or other long oil finishes. I have been told, but don't know, that it is because of the amount of resin in the wood reacting to the chemicals in the finish. It has to be something though, as I have noticed a pretty good difference in the colors over a period or years.
I have a tendency to lean towards a high quality lacquer. I might be tempted to even try one of the water based lacquers.
I have never finished pine with straight oil of any type as it offers so little protection for the soft stuff that it is almost pointless. That soft wood has little abrasion resistance, second only to its inability to cope with water/moisture.
Good luck on your project. I hope you let us know how it goes!
Robert
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Take a look at some of these pictures http://flickr.com/photos/mdinep/sets/72157603066528456 /
The entertainment center is Red Oak. The hall table is Ponderosa and Eastern White Pine. The bookcases (painted white) are fir plywood and yellow pine. Adirondack chairs, yellow pine. Small bar sink, fir plywood and yellow pine. Workbench, yellow pine Bathroom cabinet and mirror (for my shop), fir plywood and yellow pine Chest of drawers, white pine. Router table, white pine. I have used Oak, Ash, Hickory, and Maple for kitchen cabinets. The only wood I don't much care for is Maple (hard) My experience with yellow pine is that some splitting occasionally occurs. "Climb cutting" when routing will help. Sharp tools are essential. The "Southwestern" style that's in vogue around here (El Paso, TX) looks best in either oak or ponderosa pine but if you have access to eastern white pine most people can't tell the difference. We have a lumber supplier here, Austin Hardwoods, that stocks both hardwoods and softwoods. Good luck,
Max
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Softwoods don't stain well and it's often difficult to get a sharp clean edge with softwoods.

Depends on what I'm making. I have made several pieces of furniture in pine (bed, dresser, cabinet, gate-leg table, utility table, benches, chair seats), but I like maple, oak, cherry, butternut and walnut too.

Pine puts a lot of resin on the working tools.

I test with a moisture meter.

Several places, mostly through a wood dealer and usually rough sawn.

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LesT wrote:

I did my first project using pine because I didn't want to "ruin" good hardwood.

The biggest thing I found was that one must be extremely careful handling pine components. They will gouge and dent when you even look at them funny.

Can't comment on that, I only worked with soft pine.

I found a fair amount of build-up on my sawblade in particular, the other tools (jointer, planer, router bits) not so much.

Definitely exercise care in the design to allow for wood movement. Even though it was my first project, I was very careful in the design to allow for wood movement. The piece has held up well over the past 11 years, even surviving a move from the semi-humid Dallas area to the desert southwest with no cracks or splits.

Got mine from a regular hardwood supplier in Lewisville, TX. Make sure you trust the place from which you are buying.

--
If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough

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LesT wrote:

Made a ton of pine "furniture" using 1 x 12" pine shelving boards from the Borg. You need to do a bit of sorting to minimize warps/twists/knots, but the small/tight knots add a little "character".
Where's Jummy when we need him?
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I forwarded this to Jums, and got this back:
Now that's hysterical Nahmie. I've actually gotten back into it a bit . . . I built everything you see in this picture . . . including the counter top and built in the bbq and refrigerator. I've found something better than pine . . . REDWOOD!
Really had a lot of fun making the sawdust!
Jummy . . .
(picture of patio with wood "couch" padded w/ pillows, slatted top end table & coffee table, "bar" with mentioned built-ins)
Hide quoted text -

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wrote:

qualified registered neener.
Also, let me inform you both that good pine is, and has been for some time. more expensive than many of the au courant hardwoods, which should add to the cachet.
However, Jummywood is still Jummywood, even at $6.00 a board foot for AHVG stuff.
t
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Alright you guys . . . do you think I could sit back here in Las Vegas and NOT talk about Jummywood . . . the greatest invention ever made? LOL!
So here is comes from the "Jummywood/PineKing/Minwax Mac" Master of all times! I always preferred yellow pine and if you're going to be using a Southwest style, I preferred wood with knots and strategically locate them within the piece. For example, a cabinet with knots on the doors or in the back that can be seen is an outstanding look. However you must be certain that the knots are solid. When I bought my pine from the borg (see guys . . . I still remember the lingo from the old Future Collectible days) I would run them through my planer. Very light - EXTREMELY light passes would remove most all of the mill works lines off of them. When working with pine use very sharp blades. The planer blades had to be a polished sharp and the thinnest kerf on a Woodworker II blade with a stiffener is the best. Pine is a very forgiving wood. If you dent it simply put a few drops of water in the dents and they swell back up. Don't over sand the wood - usually anything finer than a 120 grit will close the pores and you won't get very much absorption with your stain. A little bit of Titebond II goes a very long way with pine too. I have used Gorilla glue with it but if you over use it and it foams out, the pine will absorb the excess and it will not accept the stain. I made a living building pine furniture for quite a few years. Now that my shop is gone, I'm still holding on to a few tools and have built a complete patio set in my backyard here in Vegas. I'm working on an 8' diameter redwood table that will be an octagon. And by the way - if anyone can give me the formula for measuring the exact lengths for the outside border pieces including the angles, this old country boy would be extremely grateful! A quick shout out to Nahmie for reminding me that there is life after divorce and that there is still sawdust in my future! Life is good . . . I married last March to a beautiful Christian girl. To my partner in Aussie land, my old sailor Dave and to the hundreds of others who were always there with a sharp chisel, a laugh, and a smile . . . thanks for always being there guys. Now come to Las Vegas and hear our band! www.brazosriverband.com I didn't make the guitars but I sure do play them! Jums (aka Jim McNamara - not the one with the stains . . . the one with the Pine!)
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snipped-for-privacy@brazosriverband.com wrote: [snip]

Welcome back Jums. Always good to hear from you (mostly). In your absence, I have been diligent in mentioning Jummywood (or Pacific Jummywood (fir)) from time to time. No body ever asks what the hell Jummywood is which means that either everybody knows or nobody gives a shit. For ever and sometimes,     and mahalo,     jo4hn
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Mahalo Jo4hn! WOW . . . this is like taking a trip back in time! I actually went to Oahu a year ago and was amazed at some of the tropical woods I saw in some of the furniture in the local shops. What a treat that was. As you can tell . . . I'm not making a lot of sawdust right now . . . the economy out here is the nation's worst when it comes to real estate and since Las Vegas is a tourist town - the airline fares are taking their toll. I did finally put together the best country show band this town has seen in many years. We only perform at the major casino showrooms now and it's a lot of fun. I'm just about finished building the redwood furniture in the backyard and since we only get about 4: of rain here a year and the humidity is usually below 6% - you can build anything out here. I'm going to try and archive the old "Jummywood" story and see how long things stay around here! LOL!
Good to hear from you bro . . .
Jums
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Why.... of course!! Jummywood!! Why didn't you say so? Jummywood good stuff.
(There are some people who are afraid to ask wtf a certain kind of wood is.... at the risk of sounding stoopid.)
My guess is wood from the Jummy tree?.
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JUMMYWOOD TREES? LOL! Take a look at the latest post concerning Jummywood, Robatoy . . . the truth may be too much to handle! LOL!
Jums
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On Oct 14, 3:35pm, snipped-for-privacy@brazosriverband.com wrote:

I guess you have been away for a long time. Jummywood trees are found all over. The best of them all is Jum Arabica. Other varieties of the species are (as opposed to the sugar maple) Sugarless Jum, Wintergreen Jum and Spearmint Jum, the latter being a favourite amongst hunters.
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Now that's funny! I don't care who ya are right there . . . that's funny! LOL!
Jums
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On Tue, 14 Oct 2008 11:46:36 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@brazosriverband.com wrote:

wellcome back to the greatest politcal bullshit g....er um I mean.... woodwoking group on the usenet highway! :-]
skeez
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Yup . . . some stuff never changes! LOL! Does Dave Fleming still tell his tales around here anymore? I lost touch with him. He was the first guy on the wreck to flame me and we became the best of friends after that. Quite the history to tell that man does . . . I've been surfin' around a bit and it looks like a lot of the oldies are still goodies. LOL! What about the Black Sheep? Is Sy Kaplan still hanging around? I tried to Google his site but it ain't showing up anywhere. I got a lot of help from my old buddy Harvey Klene moving out here after the divorce. Harvey is one great guy and is having some major health problems. He built a beautiful wood shop .....one is the envy of many. I got here just in time to help him deck over the concrete floor, hang cabinets on the walls, etc. A spectacular place but his health issues keep him out of it. He's been a great friend so keep him in your prayers for me if you would.
I'm gonna float around a while and check out some of the topics. Remind me where to post some pics . . . it's been a while! :-)
Jums
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On Tue, 14 Oct 2008 13:56:46 -0700 (PDT), Jimmy Mac

alt binaries pictures woodworking [I think!] heres some more pics http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/skeezics/workshop
http://lumberjocks.com/galleries/skeezics enjoy...
skeez
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On Tue, 14 Oct 2008 13:56:46 -0700 (PDT), Jimmy Mac

most of the gooduns are gone! who knows where???? even ol JOAT skipped out on us.
skeez
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