When Working with Pine...
I received a call yesterday from a fellow woodworking enthusiast who pointed out a few interesting things about pine, and which I also want to share.
For projects on Home-Dzine we complete a lot of these using pine, and after receiving a call yesterday from a fellow woodworking enthusiast, I realised that it might be time to remind everyone about the pros and cons of using pine for projects.
First and foremost, we use pine for the majority of our projects due to its affordability. When compared to other woods, pine comes in at a fraction of the cost. The reason for this is that pine is harvested locally and not imported. You can also buy pine, either PAR (planed all round) or not planed at Builders Warehouse, most Builders stores, and at timber merchants around the country. While the price does vary from region to region, it is still overall the most affordable timber to use for home DIY projects.
When tackling a project, it's up to you - the reader - to decide whether you want to use pine or substitute this with another hardwood. Meranti is the next most affordable wood to work with, but it is imported and it can be pricey when compared to pine. Having said that, even we prefer to use Meranti for outdoor projects. But if you don't want to spend more, it is always recommended that you seal your project with an exterior sealer on a regular basis.
The next factor to take into consideration, and another reason that we use pine, is its workability. Because pine is a softwood it is very easy to work with. Not only easy to cut with basic power tools, pine is also easy to sand. That means that you don't need any special tools or accessories to work with pine, which is great for the average DIY enthusiast.
On the durability side, pine is most definitely not as durable as other woods. Again, it is a softwood that is affordable and easy to work with. If you want pine projects to last, they must be regularly treated with the appropriate sealer, or varnished, or painted. If you fail to apply the appropriate treatment, problems will definitely occur when using pine for your projects.
I think that my local Builders Warehouse cringe when I walk into the store looking for PAR pine. I have a habit of unpacking the shelves or cubbies to check out what's in there and whether or not the pieces I find are free from defects.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to pick the right pieces for your project. Unfortunately, pine is not defect-free. You ideally want pieces without any knots - or at least have just small knots, you want planks that are straight and not bowed, cupped, twisted or warped - and you will have to eyeball this, and you want pieces that are laminated together properly if buying laminated pine.
Every pine project should have a finished applied, unless you are intentionally wanting it to age naturally. Even if the latter is the case, pine doesn't always do what you expect. All timber species expand and contract as they absorb moisture when it's wet, or dry out when it's hot. However, some timber species have a lot more oil in them, which reduces the amount of expansion and contraction, which is why these are generally specified for particular projects. But most of us don't have the luxury of being able to afford these more expensive options and have to use pine.
When tackling a project where pine is specified as the material to use, think about where the project will go and decide on the best finishing option, so you know the project will last.