The one thing that every woodworker has in common is what woods to use, and for those who are new to the hobby and often working on a limited budget because of ... maybe some investment in tools ... is the cost of wood. And one of the more common woods that new woodworkers will select is pine for a number of reasons.
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Pine is easy to find almost everywhere, it's fairly economical, often quite flat, light to handle, and easy to work with because of the softness of the wood and it can be transformed into many looks with stains and dyes, but Pine has one drawback ...
Pine is a softwood and quite a softwood at that. It is easy to dent or mark and that softness also makes it subject to becoming loose and wobbly if the woodworker who constructed it didn't pay close attention to the form of joinery used in the making of the Pine Project.
Pine can be and is used for many, many furniture projects like tables, desks, cupboards, bookcases, and cabinetry and there are a few things that can make Pine even stronger and more durable with a little bit of woodworking knowledge.
The first thing to keep in mind is that all wood that is laminated, that is ... glued together, are stronger and more stable than the same wood of the same dimension that is not glued. Gluing Pine boards together is one way of making it a stronger wood. If you are gluing Pine, it's wise to try and remove all glue ooze out before it hardens too much. Not only is it easier to remove there is also less risk that in the scraping or removal that some wood will come off with the glue if the glue is allowed to hard too long.
Next, it's good to know what kind of joints will work best with Pine in terms of strength, and for this, I made up some simple testing of some common joinery options to compare how strong they are with one another. These are simple tests on a single wood and are not meant to be a definitive answer, but more of a woodworker's knowledge of how things react.
Among the most common joinery types in woodworking are Mortise and Tenon, Pocket Hole Joinery, and Doweling. My testing and that of many others has determined that dowel and mortise and tenon jointer are about the same in strength so for my purposes, I am not going to do both of these. I am more interested in comparing the highly popular pocket hole technology with doweling ----- with Pine.
The image below was the failure of 3 pocket holes in edge jointed pine which failed around 250 pounds.
The image below is a comparable joint but this time using dowels with the dowelmax system, and failure occurred at 450 pounds, making the dowels substantially stronger, and no real surprise. I would expect a mortise and tenon joint of the same length as the dowels to perform approximately the same strength.
The number of dowels would have some bearing, but in this case, the failure is the wood so much more than 3 dowels probably would not make much difference, what does seem to make a difference is longer gluing surfaces, which makes the dowels attach the Pine wood more and less likely to pull away, glue and all from the pine as you can see in the upper picture.
In keeping with the strength of Pine, in the case of mechanical fasteners such as screws or nails, again longer and even thicker is better to get a bigger bite into the wood, but be careful, as Pine is also easily split. If you are installing hinges for example, again larger and even longer screws are better as long as they don't split the wood, clamping the sides of the wood to ensure it does not clamp is another tip that can be used to put larger screws in safely.
Pine can be harder to finish because of how porous the wood is, but that can also work as an advantage. If you are looking for a more rustic, almost antique-looking project, Pine is excellent for that because many antique pieces were in fact made with pine and now have that rich amber look to them. There are many finishes and coloration that can be applied to pine to make it look like pretty much anything, and don't forget all those gorgeous knots that can add so much to the look of a project ... use them to enhance your build ...
Pine is a great wood to work with, versatile, easy to find, and work with, and as long as you adhere to is weaknesses, you can build some lovely, long-lasting family heirloom projects ... just look at the Pine furniture pieces that have survived hundreds of years ...
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