Big pieces of pine for furniture legs?

hosenemesisMarch 17, 2012

Hello woodworkers,

I have asked my husband to build me a rustic bathroom vanity out of pine, so that I can weather it to the same greyed color as the pine doors in the room.

He built me a lovely southwest-style credenza out of clear fir a number of years ago, so he's game. He gets "Wood" magazine :) and he has the tools. He told me to get the materials and design it.

Here's the issue: I just found out that it is hard to find big thick pieces of pine. I had three inch (or more) square legs in mind, but I'm told they will have to be made of glued together pieces. I don't want to use fir again, since it is too orange. What do people do who build those big huge rustic pine farmhouse tables? Do they glue the wood together?

Thank you,

Renee

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Jon1270

Wood over 2" thick of any species is usually a special-order item. The thicker a piece of wood, the more time-consuming and expensive it is to dry it properly. Combine that with the fact that there's very little demand for such pieces, and it doesn't make sense for most retailers to keep it in stock. I would think a good lumber yard should be able to order some, but it'll cost ya.

Glued-together square legs don't have to be conspicuous. The corners can be mitered. I doubt that the thicker lumber would be worth the trouble to get.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 8:11AM
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klavier

I assume you are looking for clear pine. if you can deal with a knotty rough appearance just go to home depot and buy a pine 4x4 or pine 6x6 that is not pressure treated. It will require more prep work to make it look good but it is an option. It is cheap and if you pick over the inventory you can probably find some pieces with knot free sections long enough to do your job. There will just be a lot of waste from the knotty sections. I sometimes use this route to save time glueing and joining pieces, but usually when I am going for a glaze. stain like gel stain that is going to obscure the grain anyway.

Cheers,
Werner

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 8:27AM
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brickeyee

Try a nearby hardwood dealer.

They often have or can get high grade pine suitable for making furniture.

Expect to pay about the same rage per board foot as lower end hardwoods.
framing lumber is not dried to the same moisture levels as furniture grade wood.

The higher moisture content is what leads to shrinkage and warping as the wood further dries in the interior of a house.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 10:26AM
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hosenemesis

Thank you for the great responses. I will glue the pieces together.

Brickeyee, I have used framing lumber for furniture in the past and it does warp! Not the end of the world for a rustic project, but still.

Werner, they don't sell pine 4x4s at my local stores, only Douglas fir. Otherwise, I'd go for it.

Renee

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 2:57PM
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brickeyee

If you pay attention to the grain you can at lest put the pieces in opposition to each other to reduce movement.

the wood handbook explains how wood moves with moisture content (in sometimes painful detail).

Figure 3-3 is especially useful.

It shows how the differences in radial and tangential movement alter the shape of wood depending in its original location in a log.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wood Handbook, Chapter 3

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 3:17PM
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hosenemesis

"the wood handbook explains how wood moves with moisture content (in sometimes painful detail)."
Heh heh. Yes, indeed!
Thank you- I have bookmarked the link.

The local hardwood company can't get anything bigger than 2" and the local real lumber yard has not returned my calls- twice. I assume that's because they can't find it or they can't make enough money off it to justify the order. But now that I'm armed with knowledge, there's no stopping the vanity project.
Renee

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 4:08PM
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HandyMac

A question about gluing.

Are you going to do the gluing, or is your husband?

I ask because there is a bit more to gluing two pieces of wood together than applying glue and mating the pieces. There is grain orientation to consider, faces need to be planed or jointed smooth first, and clamps have to be used.

There is no reason you cannot do that---as long as you can do the above processes or help/have them done.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 6:21PM
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hosenemesis

We have a very strict gender division of labor in this household, handymac. DH does demo and wood. We draw straws for plumbing (loser plumbs, of course). I do electricity, masonry, and design. He will faithfully execute whatever I draw. Sometimes (most of the time?)I draw things that can't be done, though, and that's what happened here.

I'll pour the concrete top for the vanity, but the cabinet is his domain. He has a bajillion clamps because they are such good stocking stuffers :) He even has clamps for making squares. So he'll be fine, except for me poking my nose in and asking him if he's doing it right every few minutes.

If he has any questions, I will take photos and post them here and seek out your advice. Thank you!
Renee

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 8:42PM
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brickeyee

There are numerous 'mail order' sources of both hardwoods and higher grade softwoods.
The lumber is not 'dimensioned' lumber like you find with common framing lumber.

It is often sold random width and length, with only the thickness being controlled.

Do a search on 'hardwood lumber' and then make some phone calls (or use the contact form on many sites).

Unless you have a way to surface the boards, just pay the small charge to have them at least surfaced on two sides.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 11:10AM
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HandyMac

Good for you and hubby!

Wife and I do hobbies(and used to do customer work much the same)

She sews. I do most of the cutting for her projects. She develops the cut list, I cut.

I do all the woodworking and home repair.(she has had 2 back surgeries).

Oh, ask hubby(if you don't already know if he has clamps for round or triangle shapes.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 12:31PM
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sloyder

see link for table blanks.

Here is a link that might be useful: table legs

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 8:50PM
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hosenemesis

Fancy that! Thank you, sloyd and brickeyee.
I asked, handymac. No clamps for round or triangle shapes. Now I have something to buy him for next Christmas!
Renee

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 1:37AM
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brickeyee

Do a search for 'table legs'

There are many places selling unfinished table legs ready for use in projects.

Numerous styles are available, in many types of wood if you want to purchase legs.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 8:45AM
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HandyMac

Band clamps or strap clamps are what do round/triangle shapes.

I favor the Merle brand because of the metal straps.

I also have some canvas straps like the Shop fox(black) version(at the top of the second page.)

Here is a link that might be useful: strap clamps

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 7:03PM
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brickeyee

I have Jorgenson canvas band clamps.

The are much better than the thin nylon clamps.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 9:52AM
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