Working With Really Rich Pine from WoodCentral
This discussion dealt with appropriate finishes for some "really rich" pine -- a kind of "gateway" wood that other woodworkers, especially those just starting out, may also have some questions about. - Editor
"I [have] a project coming up that I will be building a desk, using the lumber from a former AR Champion Loblolly Pine. The client's father owned the land, and beetles killed the tree. I have been slow roasting the wood to set the pitch. But I'm wondering about finishing. I would suppose shellac would be the best sealer coat, or is there something else a bit harder, more suitable for a desk top? I've used plenty of pine for construction purposes, but not for fine furniture. I wish I could have gotten in on sawing this tree up, I would have ripped it with my chainsaw then put the halves on my Wood-Mizer, and had some [quartersawn] or edge grain planks, where two would have made the top. But the best now are only 5". Any pitfalls you can share would be appreciated." - Keith N.
"The problem with using pine -- particularly loblolly pine -- is its softness. It will be very susceptible to damage from anyone using a ballpoint pen when writing on paper on the surface. The writing will be 'telegraphed' into the wood. There is really no finish that will harden the surface of the wood ,with the exception of a pour-on epoxy which has other problems associated with it. A couple of suggestions:
Use a harder wood for the top
Buy a blotter pad to protect the surface
Avoid a soft finish like poly or oil-based varnish."
- Howard A.
"A few years ago, I made a pair of cabinets out of sugar pine. It was a special tree that was struck by lightning, and about 8" of the 24" wide boards were blue with a nice sprinkling of some wormholes. I used all the rustic parts for one cabinet and all the unstained and sound parts for another. For the blue cabinet, I used Jasco Tung Oil, and for the other, I carved the panels and then used Jasco Tung Oil tinted with oil paint. I built a rich finish by using coats each tinted a slightly different color. The cabinet finished with the straight Jasco Tung Oil had three or four coats, and it had a nice sheen and a wonderful warm amber tone to it. Unfortunately, Jasco Tung Oil was a victim of Bain Capital and is no longer available. I am close to getting similar results with a blend of McCloskeys® spar varnish, polymerized tung oil, a dash of [turpentine] and a bit of Japan drier. It isn't quite as amber as I would like." - Robin C.
"An option is to use a piece of glass for the "top coat". It'll show the wood but block surface damage. It could be too pricey, though. It depends on how much you have into the project." - Dave B.
The original poster then remembered that pine has been used for a long time, such as in flooring -- perhaps without a finish at all. - Editor
"I'll probably leave that up to the customer, if they want it, but the edge-grain that I plan to use for the top is not as bad as the big broad bands on plain sawn pine. When I think about it, sometimes I see old edge-grain pine floors, where they used this rich lumber, and they look great, even after a hundred years. Probably when they were installed, they may not have even had a finish. Back then, I think the women or their maids would get down with a scrub brush on a regular basis with soap and water." - Keith N.
Woodworking: Dangerous in Oh So
Many Ways from WoodCentral
While, of course, you should always follow safety practices when woodworking, that's not exactly what this discussion is about. It's a different sort of "danger" associated with woodworking -- and with tool lust. - Editor
"No shop accident. I am well, unpunctured, and have all my digits and both eyes. But -- I am in New England visiting relatives. For something to do, I took my mother into Boston to visit the Museum of Science. While cruising along I-90, I noticed a pickup with a load of some sort strapped in the back. Hmmm. It was sort of gold in color. Hmmm. Could that be some new Powermatic machine on its way home? Is that a large planer? What? What?! I tried speeding up to catch it and take a look. 'Quick, Mom. What's that thing say that's in the back of the truck?' But she misheard me and started reading the guy's name on the truck door! I risked almost driving off the road into the median and tried to turn to read it. Too late. We passed him and then he slowed down. I was way past him. Rats! I never found out what that was. It could have been a PM 15" planer; it could have been a drum sander; it could have been some x-ray machine. Sheesh! I manage to ignore accident scenes without rubbernecking and slowing down to look, when I am on the road. I just don't want to know or see the blood and gore. And I want to let those poor folks have some privacy. But suspect woodworking tools and machines -- all bets are off! I have to look. I think they must have powerful magnets in them. Be careful out there!" - Joanne
Evidently, this sort of thing is not an isolated occurrence. - Editor
"A few years back, I had a similar experience like yours, only worse. I was on 405 Freeway on the way to San Diego. There was a pickup truck in front of me carrying something like an European table saw. At the time, I was thinking of buying one. I sped up to see the saw clearer. Before I was able to make out the brand of the saw, I was pulled over by a CA Highway Patrol car. Reason: 'following too close.' Cost me a few hundred dollars and a day in traffic school!" - Hoa
"I will go to some lengths to maneuver to get to see what is on a log truck. I was doing that a few years ago and got up on a load of veneer logs headed somewhere on a back road. There was a huge short walnut log on the truck. I speculated that the tree might have been longer still and that somewhere the rest of that huge tree was sitting at some sawmill as a saw log. I investigated the likely possibilities and, sure enough, there was a 10' log with a crotch at one end, something that would at the time have disqualified it from veneer consideration. Aha, an opportunity to get some quartered and rift cut walnut from a big tree. I negotiated to buy the log and, because I wanted it sawed a bit unconventional, the sawyer let me saw it. I sawed it 12/4 so as to be able to resaw and book-match the pieces. The crotch was a disappointment as it had lots of bark inclusions." - Bill T.