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Old 12-16-2009, 05:53 PM
Mr. Lahey Mr. Lahey is offline
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Making furniture out of pine?

Is there a way to make pine work well for furniture such as tables? Is there a decent stain and coating that can be used to make it look like a higher quality wood and increase the durability?
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Old 12-16-2009, 05:57 PM
ouryL ouryL is offline
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I suppose you could laminate the top piece with another harder wood.
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Old 12-16-2009, 06:03 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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It's possible to stain it or use paint effects to mimic other materials, but pine is not really a very durable and hardwearing timber for furniture - it will start to show dents and crushed corners from day 1 of normal use. If you write on a sheet of paper placed directly on a pine tabletop, the writing will be clearly visible as indentations in the wood.
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Old 12-16-2009, 06:30 PM
Gary Robson Gary Robson is offline
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You're really asking two different questions here.

1) Is it possible to make pine furniture look like a different wood?

Sort of. There are stains to make it look the color of mahogany, oak, cherry, or whatever you desire. But they won't change the distinctive softwood grain pattern. Anyone who knows woods will recognize it right away.

2) Is it possible to make pine furniture more durable, like hardwoods?

Again, sort of. There are many hard finishes available that can prevent the denting problem that Mangetout brings up. That won't make it as dent-resistant as a hunk of kingwood, but it will help a lot.

You didn't state the reason for the question. Do you have a big pile of pine laying around? Are you refinishing some pine furniture? Or are you looking to make some low-cost stuff?

If the latter, you can save a lot of money by using plywood that has a thin layer of birch or cherry on top. Get some decent edging, and it looks pretty darned good.

Be very careful with what ouryL suggested, though. Pine has a significantly greater coefficient of expansion than hardwoods do. If you don't do your lamination very well and very carefully, changes in temperature and humidity are likely to crack your furniture or tear it apart.
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Old 12-16-2009, 06:33 PM
RedSwinglineOne RedSwinglineOne is offline
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You can stain pine, but it doesn't absorb stain well, and you will always be able to tell by the grain that it is pine. You're not likely to fool anybody into thinking it is more expensive wood.

When I use pine I usually use knotty pine because it is cheap, and since it already has knotts in it, you won't notice the wear and tear. I think pine looks best with a golden stain to give it an older look. You can oversand the edges and distress the surface if you like. You can add cigarette burns, coffe cup rings, and a few passes with a propane torch to give the surfaces some character.

Last edited by RedSwinglineOne; 12-16-2009 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 12-16-2009, 07:09 PM
Valgard Valgard is offline
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Pine is tough to stain because it's a softwood and tends to absorb stain unevenly so you get a lot of blotching.

American Woodworker ran an article a few years ago about how to stain pine nicely; it was a multi-step process which involved (amongst other things):

-Fill knotholes using epoxy.
-Seal the wood to prevent pitch from bleeding out. Shellac is a good sealer.
-Tint the wood. There were a couple of steps in this.
-Topcoat (polyurethane for example).

It was a lot of steps but produced a very nice finish. I think that pine lends itself to rustic furniture by nature.

A lot of the pine that people have laying around is relatively damp construction-grade lumber so when it dries it really dries and that results in a lot of dimensional change, cracking, etc. You'd probably want to dry the stuff out properly to bring it down to a low moisture content before you start working it. There are a lot of good articles online and in various woodworking books on working with pine.
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Old 12-17-2009, 06:45 AM
thirdname thirdname is offline
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What about an Ikea piece with a clear acrylic lacquer? Would that be durable? I have an opportunity to buy something used right now.
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Old 12-17-2009, 06:52 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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The finish can only impart a little strength and resistance to wear - pine is really better suited to items of furniture that will look good distressed and battered, or things that will be out of reach of humans.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:48 AM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdname
What about an Ikea piece with a clear acrylic lacquer? Would that be durable? I have an opportunity to buy something used right now.
I happen to be sitting at an Ikea desk right now. No idea what style - I do know it's not Leksvik or Markor. It's close to five years old and the top does have plenty of experience and character, some of which are from a recent cross-country move. It's not trashed by any means, but it does have dents and dings. No problems with the finish wearing through or chipping.

If you want hard-wearing durability, look to oak or maple. I'm about to get myself a new desk as the Ikea one is just too small to hold three monitors. I've got my eye on a "butcher block" style work table from Sears or a similar sized oak countertop from Ikea. Both are 2x8 feet and close to 2 inches thick for about $200. Something intended for use in a kitchen or workshop should be able to last forever as a desk. In either case, I'd set it on two file cabinets.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:49 AM
pan1 pan1 is offline
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I have a couple pieces of furniture made of pine.

A table, clearly made of lumberyard pine (2x10's carved into legs, A 3/4 inch plywood top with 2x3 support structures. A lot of work went into this, it's clear, but I bought it for $10. I didn't make it. The stain is a dark mahogany. But it's obviously pine. I use it for one of my kids computer desks. I treasure it as much as any computer desk I'd buy at walmart.

I also have a set of shelves in my kitchen made of 2x4's. I had a low budget and a space that requred shelves 7" deep. To me that said two 2x4's deep. I didn't even try to make them look like something else. Very rustic. Took me 8 hours to build a set of shelves 7' tall by 5' wide by 7" deep from a dozen or so 2x4's. And I don't make any claims to carpentry skills. (Clearly or I wouldn't be making shelves from 2x4's) Total cost for custom made shelves: $60.

But, various pines are often used in furniture making. It's a light wood and works well for the underconstruction - the parts that don't show. I'd think it would have too rough of a grain for anything that you really wanted to take pride in.

Last edited by pan1; 12-17-2009 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 12-17-2009, 07:46 PM
Spezza Spezza is offline
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I work in a solid-wood furniture store. Yes, Pine is entirely suitable for furniture. Anything from bedroom to dinning room, not a problem. What stain is best for pine? Typically lighter stains work better. Darker stains don't come out as well (IMO), only because of the knots. Pine also makes for great rustic furniture. Plus, it is cheaper than most other solid-wood furniture.

Yes, Pine is a softwood and therefore more susceptible to denting than harder woods. For an everyday dinning table, a smooth top pine table probably isn't the best idea. However, for a rustic rough-cut, a pine dinning table is perfect. Basically, it all depends on what you're looking for.
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Old 12-17-2009, 11:48 PM
Harry1945 Harry1945 is offline
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I'm not going to try to condense thirty years of woodworking and two shelves of reference material into a brief post in this thread. Even within the pine family, there are woods suitable for table tops, boxes, furniture, and just about anything else you want to make...or suitable for nothing except starting a fire in the winter. Two extremes are Southern Yellow Pine and Western White Pine. Typically, the softer pine wood might be used for a table top, while the legs and stretchers may be some hardwood easily worked with available tools. The legs and the stretchers are the most difficult components to make, and will be subject to the greatest amount of abuse, so they require stronger wood. The top can be several boards glued-up, then sanded, scraped and finished smooth. Even if they are not protected by table cloths, it will be awhile before they need replaced. Meanwhile, the legs and stretchers just keep on doing their jobs. Join a couple of woodworking forums, and talk to the folks who do this for a living. Rather than list the sites here, PM me if you're interested.
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Old 12-18-2009, 05:01 PM
Improvisor Improvisor is offline
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This is a great natural finish for wood.

http://www.waterlox.com/

I got it for use on a butcher block counter top (not pine) since it is a non-toxic finish. I've subsequently used the remainder on a couple of projects and the pine looked really nice. There is no 'stain' to it, but dries to a nice honey-finish that deepens over time.
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Old 11-20-2017, 04:08 PM
Branjo Branjo is offline
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Yes and no.

Long story short, making a piece of furniture from pine is eventually going to break your heart.

Of course it can be done, but the effort is double that of hard woods.

Anyone here gotten pine to a beautiful smooth finish and then the fabric of a sweater or cloth just lodges into the grain and rips up a shard of wood, right where you don't want it? Or the edge splits just lifts on its own and you run you hand right into it?

Then there is the roulette wheel of "which way its going to warp". In a temperature controlled workshop its a lot easier, but let's face it many of us are garage warriors. I've had workbenches twist within the time I was making it. Keeping 90 degrees on every aspect of a pine table/bench is going to be rare in most cases. Again, you can get away with it if perfection is not an issue. However you don't want to be remaking the same furniture again and again due to wear and tear or twists. Trial and error is the best teacher.

Build to last is my new motto.

We all start out on pine, it's the easiest and cheapest wood you can aquire. I love the grain pattern on furs, I don't try and hide the wood type. So instead of other "wood" colors, just go nuts with colored stains and make the pine pop. Greens, blues and reds look amazing on pine. You can edge grain pine for a table top and as long as it glued up like sob and has a good hard varnish like 4 coats on it, it can last quite a while.

These days if I'm making something for someone I give them 2 choices, oak or maple.

Oak for sheer strength and maple for its clean hard surface that has amazing grain patterns. My goal is to make stuff that can hold up for a lifetime, sooner or later pine is going to let you down.

If it's rustic you're after then pine can work well, but if it's a high traffic piece it's not going to end well. Pros are pros and most of us weekend woodworkers wouldn't call ourselves pros.

Heck if you look at pine wrong, you can dent it lol.
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Old 11-20-2017, 07:03 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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I'd only use pine for very casual furniture.

Finish natural with a very tough poly. That won't leave water rings or easily dent.

I apply this with a rag. You want two or three light coats. Don't try to use a brush. Gives a very nice natural look on pine.
http://www.rockler.com/general-finis...8aAhmaEALw_wcB

Last edited by aceplace57; 11-20-2017 at 07:06 PM.
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Old 11-20-2017, 07:17 PM
Yllaria Yllaria is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
It's possible to stain it or use paint effects to mimic other materials, but pine is not really a very durable and hardwearing timber for furniture - it will start to show dents and crushed corners from day 1 of normal use. If you write on a sheet of paper placed directly on a pine tabletop, the writing will be clearly visible as indentations in the wood.
Wasn't that thick, dark, clunky "distressed", furniture that was popular in the late seventies, pine? They decided to embrace the fact that it dented easily, making it a feature rather than a bug.
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Old 11-21-2017, 01:58 AM
moes lotion moes lotion is offline
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I may be stretching the notion of furniture here, but I made racks to hold wooden swords, staffs and knifes for the dojo I practice at out of 2 x 3" knotty pine and 5/8" maple dowel. I hand sanded three sides of the pine boards and used a router to give the top side a nice profile, then used a Fostner drill to make holes at about a 60 degree angle and press fitted lengths of dowel into the holes with carpenters glue. I used walnut oil to finish the wood, a first coat mixed 50:50 with mineral spirits and a second of just the oil. After about 3 months the pine had developed a lovely warm honey color. Fifteen years (and two moves) later, the racks still look pretty nice.
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Old 11-21-2017, 04:12 AM
Dereknocue67 Dereknocue67 is offline
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Shellac and Waterlox have been mentioned. They're both good choices and I have used both with very good results. I have several pieces of antique pine furniture - DR table and 2 dressers and the wood does show dings over the years but to me, that adds character.

I have used commercial sealers designed to prevent stain from blotching on pine but I have had mixed results and I stopped using them.

Last week I made an urn from pine and finished it with 8 coats of shellac followed by 2 topcoats of satin spray poly and was very pleased with the results. Shellac, like Waterlox, is absorbed very well by pine but a downside to Waterlox is the lingering and what I consider offensive odor that can last as long as 30 days while the product cures. The upside to Waterlox is that it is very easy to apply and 2 coats usually provide a professional appearance. If you can allow the piece to cure in an area separate from your living space, Waterlox might be your best bet.

Last edited by Dereknocue67; 11-21-2017 at 04:12 AM.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:31 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Originally Posted by Yllaria View Post
Wasn't that thick, dark, clunky "distressed", furniture that was popular in the late seventies, pine? They decided to embrace the fact that it dented easily, making it a feature rather than a bug.
I'm actually quite surprised at what I posted way back in 2009 in this thread, especially as I had actually made furniture out of pine at that point (although not tables - I guess I was focusing on the usage of pine in a tabletop, where it really does show slight wear quickly, and looks bad with slight wear).

Yes, embrace the distress is certainly an option - Pine looks good with no wear, crappy with slight wear, but can start to look good again with heavier wear.
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Old 11-21-2017, 04:17 PM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
Finish natural with a very tough poly. That won't leave water rings or easily dent.
We had a natural pine dining table. We sealed it with commercial grade floor sealer (from a friend who owned a floor sanding business).
That table was awesome, and really robust. But it was used in the clear knowledge that at some point I would probably have to take it out, sand it back to smooth wood again, and reseal.
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Old 11-21-2017, 06:54 PM
Si Amigo Si Amigo is offline
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The first thing I thought about was waterbeds from the 70s and 80s. Everyone I ever saw was made of cheap pine that was easily scratched by just running a fingernail across them. Of course they were hard to notice when properly illuminated with a lava lamp.

Last edited by Si Amigo; 11-21-2017 at 06:55 PM.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:02 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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I've always wanted to make a veneer table top. Using pine as the base.

Veneer comes in rolls.

Then you have a furniture grade surface to stain & finish.

My bucket list project is to do a parquet table. I'll get to it after I retire.
http://www.retrorestoredltd.co.uk/si...?itok=-T9tKBOh
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Old 11-22-2017, 02:41 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
I've always wanted to make a veneer table top. Using pine as the base.

Veneer comes in rolls.

Then you have a furniture grade surface to stain & finish.

My bucket list project is to do a parquet table. I'll get to it after I retire.
http://www.retrorestoredltd.co.uk/si...?itok=-T9tKBOh
Trouble with that idea is that pine is not a very stable base for veneer or marquetry - it will expand and contract across the grain, and your veneer may crack or lift. Much as I love solid timber, ply or MDF is probably a better base for veneer than pine.
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Old 11-22-2017, 06:19 AM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
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I have made pine wood bedroom sets country style that looked nice and held up for at least two decades and are still going strong but the finishes just don't last like they do on hardwood unless you do something like acrylic resin which is very thick. I refinished the tops on two nightstands recently with tru-oil which is really for gun stocks and I was amazed at how nice it came out.
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