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For the Love of Pine


Synopsis: As a hand-tool woodworker, Josh Klein loves the smoothness and workability of Jap white pine, and he’s not holding that information to himself. From the provision of large pine boards to the convenience of milling, gentle weight , and shocking sturdiness, white pine has rather a lot to supply. And it’s not arduous to complete, both, for those who use a few of Klein’s ideas.


There is no such thing as a wooden I’d quite work than Jap white pine. As a hand-tool woodworker, the flexibility to airplane a chunky curl off a creamy clean board offers me a way of energy that the majority of us don’t affiliate with working by hand. There’s a cause that pine was used so extensively in historic furnishings earlier than the mechanization of the Industrial Revolution: It really works like a dream. The excellent news for us is that these massive bushes, although massively diminished within the overharvesting and clear-cutting of the early colonists and the following logging trade, are nonetheless round, they usually’re nonetheless as workable, so pine stays an optimum selection for furnishings, and in addition for having fun with your self within the store.

Large boards are accessible and cheap

Who doesn’t love large boards? Visiting historic homes or living-history museums, probably the most frequent remarks I overhear from different visitors is how outstanding the large boards are. It’s not unusual to see boards 20 in. large in historic properties and furnishings. Particularly once they’re prominently displayed in flooring or tabletops, we are able to’t assist however surprise on the measurement of the tree they got here from. However as arduous as it’s to imagine, nobody within the 1700s drooled at boards that large. These boards have been sensible as a result of they have been native, ample, straightforward to work, and cheap. Large boards have been barely greater than the pre-industrial equal of plywood—economical, however not out to impress.

ripping pine with a ripsaw
Lengthy rip? No sweat. When ripping 4/4 pine along with his 4-tpi ripsaw, Klein can progress at about 1 in. per stroke, and it’s pleasing. Ripping hardwoods isn’t horrible both, however it does take him about twice as a lot time. “Pine, against this,” he says, “makes you’re feeling superhuman.”

Since moderns like us relish the single-board glory of antiques, it’s noteworthy that to this present day, large pine stays comparatively inexpensive and obtainable.

Ease of building

Craftspeople love large boards for causes aside from their majesty and financial system: Constructing with them is simply so dang fast. When you could have entry to large inventory, edge jointing is uncommon. This job is so time-consuming in a hand-tool store that historically craftspeople tried to make use of the widest inventory they may discover. And once they did be a part of edges, they weren’t notably fussy about it. Jointing added a lot labor in planing sq. and straight, gluing, and planing flush, that it’s typical to seek out the underside/within the boards out of airplane with one another and slathered in hardened glue squeeze-out. This no-nonsense method is what furnishings historian Myrna Kaye calls “financial system of labor.” Solely the present floor wanted to look good.

Edge joints require surfacing, jointing the sides, gluing, after which resurfacing to flush the boards to one another. In distinction, when you have a large sufficient board, you’ll be able to construct a chest out of it with none edge jointing. Take into consideration the time financial savings on a small tabletop made of 1 board: Simply airplane it and minimize it to measurement. Massive eating tables could be two boards—just one joint. And the labor-saving advantage of large inventory additionally applies for many who use machines. Nonetheless you’re employed your wooden, for those who’ve ever frolicked edge-jointing and gluing up 8-in.-wide boards to make a high, attempt a single-board high someday. It seems like dishonest.

cutting mortises in pine
Mortise in minutes. Pine’s softness means even heavy joinery, like deep mortises, is gentle work. However use hardwood for smaller-scale mortise-and-tenons, like these for chairs, since they’re extra weak to breakage in gentle pine.

What milling you do have to do is far simpler on pine than hardwoods. In all probability 75% of my planing is finished with a closely set jack airplane. With this device, I can take quite a few deep bites with out fatigue. Once I work in hardwood, nonetheless, I’ve to take about half as a lot materials per stroke. This distinction provides up significantly by the tip of the challenge. Sawing is quicker, too.

For the Love of Pine spread

From High-quality Woodworking #297

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Confessions of a hand-tool woodworker

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Give pine an opportunity

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