Woodworking Tips
Woodworking Tips Index
Pampering Pine, Part 1
Some people think of pine as a utility wood -- shelves in the garage, a table in the laundry room, or sawhorses in the shop. But I also like to build furniture out of pine. That means "rethinking" the way things get done in the shop. Let's face it, pine is a soft wood with special requirements.

One requirement is that you have to handle pine more carefully than other woods. This can make a big difference in how much work there will be when it comes time to sand and finish. The problem (as I'm sure you know) is that pine dents easily -- it doesn't take much to scratch and break the fibers.

So to make the shop "pine-friendly," I first give it a good cleaning. I put away tools I'm not using and sweep off the benches. Chips and dried glue that I normally don't bother with get cleaned up. Also, on a big project like our Country Hutch, I'll use a sheet of plywood like a "furniture sled." The project sits on the plywood instead of the concrete floor. That protects the ends of the boards from chipping when sliding the project around.

But you can't avoid scratches and dents completely. They're inevitable -- but not fatal. Most scratches can be sanded out. And most dents can be removed too. One technique we like is to use a hot iron and a damp cloth. The dents soak up the moisture from the steam until they disappear. Just as important as handling pine is how you work it.

The first thing I do is make sure the table saw blade is sharp. A dull blade tears the wood fibers instead of cutting them cleanly. Also, keep an eye on pitch buildup on the saw blade. It creates more resistance during the cut and the wood tends to burn. Note: Our favorite way to remove pitch build-up is to soak our blades in a common household cleaner like Formula-409.

For the rest of this topic, see Part 2.
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