Pine is one of the most readily available woods. Not only is it easy to find, pine is relatively inexpensive, is easy to work with and its natural beauty can be realized by working with the grain. The knottier the pine, the better it looks. Pine is also suited to create furniture that looks like an antique, specifically white pine, and all members of the pine family look beautiful when finished.
Patterns and Materials
Unless you are a master woodworker, it is best to use a pattern to create your pine furniture. Almost anything made out of wood can be created with pine, so the possibilities are limitless. Patterns can be found online, in magazines and books or through woodworking shows on television. The key is to first decide what you would like to make, and then look for a pattern.
There are several different types of pine available, including shelving board, also known as number three pine; graded pine, which includes furniture-grade; and antique and salvaged stock and other members of the pine family, including fir and spruce. Blair Howard, in his book, "Building Classic Antique Furniture with Pine," says that even if pine board is warped, it can be used, which translates into a real money saver. The trick is to dry the board out; cut the board in half, straightening both ends to 90 degrees; and then join it with edge glue.
You can use either hand tools or power tools to create your pine furniture. Common hand tools include a handsaw; chisels, including the mortise and bevel-edged chisel; planes, such as the jointer plane and smoothing plane; and a cabinet scraper, which smooths the wood, to name a few. Power tools include a jigsaw, band saw, tenoning jig, drill press, drum sander and lathe. There are also ancillary tools that will be necessary, including measuring tape, pencils for marking measurements, clamps, hammers, screwdrivers, screws and wood glue.
After you have created your piece of furniture, finish it to bring out the beauty of the grain. Thoroughly sand all surfaces, ideally as you work through the project, before finishing to ensure the wood takes the stain. Pine is a soft wood, so Howard recommends using 120-grit sandpaper.
The most common finishing method is staining, and there are several different formulations to choose from, depending on the look you are going for. Howard recommends wiping the stain on then wiping it off immediately, so work in small areas. Do not let a thick layer of stain dry on the wood because a film will form that is difficult to remove. Let the wood dry and repeat this process several times to get the color you want.
If you are creating antique-looking furniture pieces, then try distressing the wood before you stain it by marking up the surface lightly with steel wool or by making marks with a hammer. Be gentle. Howard recommends using a semi-gloss polyurethane to seal and protect the finish after staining or distressing.
Painting is another finish to consider, and the possibilities of color are endless. Again, consider where the piece will be used, and paint accordingly. If you want a piece of furniture that will stand the test of time and can be moved from room to room without having to repaint the walls or reupholster the furniture, consider a neutral color, or just stick with a stain.
- Building Classic Antique Furniture with Pine; Blair Howard; 1998
- The Stanley Book of Woodworking, Tools, Techniques and Projects; Mark Finney; 2006
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