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Using Pine

by nate22
posted 11-02-2011 04:56 PM

16 replies so far

View dbhost's profile


5686 posts in 3102 days

#1 posted 11-02-2011 05:12 PM

What style do you work in? Pine has its place, but typically tends to be used mostly in country / rustic styles…

-- My workshop blog can be found at, YouTube Channel

View crank49's profile


4028 posts in 2841 days

#2 posted 11-02-2011 05:15 PM

A lot of modern furniture is MDF and partical board with veneer and such so you are ahead of that stuff even with the pine.

A lot of very fine and expensive antique pieces used poplar for backs and bottoms, any where it wouldn’t show, so I don’t look at alternative wood as all that bad. Depends on the type of furniture.

I personally would use poplar instead of pine because of the potential of pine to excrete resin sometimes. Also, you hardly ever see knots in poplar.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

19943 posts in 2975 days

#3 posted 11-02-2011 05:17 PM

Hi Nate. Pine usually brings less money for the same amount of labor but the material is less. I like to use oak and sometimes walnut depending on the customer. If you are making them to sell without an order, I would use oak or maybe quarter sawn white oak for mission style. Oak is a durable wood and finishes well and the open grain is more forgiving than maple or even pine for appearance.
If you are in Middlebury, Indiana you are in the heart of Amish country and you will see that they use a lot of oak in their furniture- for a good reason!

But pine has it’s place too. If it sells, use it for those products that are selling. My 2 cents worth….Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2720 days

#4 posted 11-02-2011 05:17 PM

Good questions, Nate.

A few of my own:

What is selling best?

What is the downside of continuing as you are—are there inventory costs, or are you buying material after you get an order?

And a couple of thoughts:

1. Would it be valuable to take 90 days and ask each customer and potential customer what they prefer and why? Keep notes.

2. I wouldn’t make a sweeping statement about quartersawn. It has its place, but it can also get pretty busy and look overwrought. You could hold that up as an ultra-premium option for a customer and charge accordingly. Some folks like to have what nobody else has.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2839 days

#5 posted 11-02-2011 05:40 PM

This is a good question and I suppose the answer depends on how you make and sell your work. If you have a showroom I don’t see why you can’t have pine and hardwoods, you may even be able to gauge which is more popular by what goes out the door.

I make individual pieces of furniture to order. It has been my experience that people who are willing to commission the services of a cabinet maker to make something almost always go with hardwood – oak, mahogany, walnut even beech. I find anyone who requests pine does so to keep the cost down – which is totally understandable.

You could also look at trends as to whats selling, in Ireland and the UK timbers, like flowery wallpaper go out of fashion, 50’s/60’s teak, 70’s/80’s mahogany, 90’s/noughties oak, from what I’ve read, walnut is the here and now wood.
You could also ask your timber merchant – I’ve been told by the guy at my supplier that “10 years ago we sold 5 times as much red oak as the white, now we hardly shift any”

View nate22's profile


475 posts in 2745 days

#6 posted 11-02-2011 05:52 PM

Thanks for the comments. The reason I don’t want to use pine anymore is I have had a couple of customers in the last couple of months say they care for a few things about pine. The style I use is mission style. And Jim I am in the heart of amish country. I was just looking at one of the sites for amish made furniture. And lee to answer your questions the downside of continuing to using pine is it chips to easy and it has to many knots. I only used it at first when I started my business because it was cheaper and it got my name out there. And I will try that about asking each customer what kind of lumber they prefer and why thanks for the idea lee.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View nate22's profile


475 posts in 2745 days

#7 posted 11-02-2011 05:57 PM

renners thanks for the comment. I would like to have a showroom and then I could show all of the different items I sell. Since I have only had my business for almost 4 years now I haven’t quit got to that point yet.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View nate22's profile


475 posts in 2745 days

#8 posted 11-02-2011 06:40 PM

I had another thought to. I have my on facebook and I was wondering should I keep my pictures of my furniture on there that is made out of pine or should I take them off.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2944 days

#9 posted 11-02-2011 08:57 PM

You should know better than anyone else what your customers want to buy and what kind of wood you like to work with. I don’t know that any of us can provide much useful advice.

However, I will make a comment. I think small business people need to keep their focus narrow. If you try to do all sorts of different styles for different markets, you will probably not do anything real well. Find your niche in the market and serve that niche very well.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View a1Jim's profile


116804 posts in 3447 days

#10 posted 11-02-2011 09:31 PM

I think folks expect 1/4 sawn white oak for most mission style furniture. I’ve seen people make mission out of other material
as an alternative to the standard white oak but usually it’s and up grade like cherry or bloodwood or some material to make it stand out.
I think you should advertise what you sell ,so if your not going to sell mission furniture made from pine don’t display it on facebook unless you have some inventory you need to move .

-- Custom furniture

View Hacksaw007's profile


612 posts in 3059 days

#11 posted 11-02-2011 10:24 PM

The custome should be the main call, what do they want, and what do they want to pay for it. If you are taking custom orders, maybe it would a good thing to show a few panels of different woods. And how good are you with finish? Being able to make a good piece a great piece can be had by a great finish. A lot of customers don’t know much about wood, but they do know what they want as far as color. You should be able to walk your customers through the process of wood, cost, and what you can do with a great finish. Sometimes the customer needs educated on what they really want, and only need a small nudge from a builder and finisher who is able to strut their stuff. Just a hint, never make your show/color panels perfect, make them average so that you can hit it later on.


-- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2853 days

#12 posted 11-04-2011 06:42 PM

Since your style is Mission, quarter sawn white oak is the number one choice in my opinion. With that being said, I wouldn’t rule out pine as a wood choice, but offer it as an option as any other wood and price accordingly with material costs.

There are those that like how pine distresses easily for that more aged look. There are also some that want unfinished pieces so that they may paint it or finish it themselves.

Pine may not be a the first choice for most, but offers a lower end price range for those seeking to save a few bucks. Thereby not eliminating customers that can’t afford the higher price quality woods but still want your products.

Using pine as a made to ordered option will allow you to only use pine when requested, and prebuilding the bulk of your products with quarter sawn white oak or other hardwood that may be popular.

As for the pictures of your products on face book. I wouldn’t eliminate pictures of the pine pieces but use fewer pine pictures and more of the hardwood pictures. This would allow customers to see if they really want the pine or choose hardwood instead.
Just my 2 cents worth in today’s economy.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View a1Jim's profile


116804 posts in 3447 days

#13 posted 11-04-2011 07:29 PM

I think I like Gregn’s approach better than what I suggested . Something else I wondered is what kind of pine your using?

-- Custom furniture

View SnowyRiver's profile


51453 posts in 3350 days

#14 posted 11-04-2011 07:40 PM

I agree with everyone else. I tend to use pine for colonial pieces. Some of the major furniture companies do the same. It looks old when it’s distressed and sometimes has stain bloctches etc. I also have been known to take a woodburning tool and create worm trenches too. This all adds to the aged look. Otherwise the hardwoods you listed are the most popular. I use white oak a lot. It has a nice grain pattern and is very stable. Mahogany and walnut are two others that are popular especially with period furniture. The type of wood I use usually depends on the style of the piece that I am building although there is no hard and fast rule to that either.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View nate22's profile


475 posts in 2745 days

#15 posted 11-05-2011 06:00 PM

Thanks for all of the comments. And the kind of pine I use is yellow pine. Is one pine better than another pine. Because the yellow pine I use seems to chip a lot, that is why I don’t want to use it. Is there a kind of pine that doesn’t chip or break down as much? And all of the comments are helpful.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51453 posts in 3350 days

#16 posted 11-05-2011 07:16 PM

I use Fir a lot. Thats what is often available here. I actually noticed that some of it comes from Sweden according to the label. Here in Minnesota, we actually had one of the largest stands of white pine in the country until the late 1800s when it was all cut for lumber to support the building industry. There are actually a hundred or more types of pine and I am sure there are differences. I havent used yellow pine before, but I thnk they often used it for flooring and box building because it’s dense and wears well. It’s high in resin too so you have to clean blades etc often. I am sure other pines would be better for furniture.

Maybe others on here have used other types of pine and could comment.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

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