Type of wood for furniture

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Forum topic by Woodyvolt posted 02-04-2018 02:47 PM 1044 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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81 posts in 1407 days

02-04-2018 02:47 PM

My daughter wants me to build some furniture for her. I would normally use a hardwood but she plans to paint the finished product. This makes me lean toward using pine which is less expensive and easier to work with.

Any suggestions on which type of wood that I should use?


19 replies so far

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 4267 days

#1 posted 02-04-2018 03:02 PM

The issue that I would have with pine is the softness. Of course it also depends on the style. If she wants a rustic country look, pine might be the best choice. Otherwise, I would consider poplar as an alternative. Still fairly inexpensive but harder.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 3013 days

#2 posted 02-04-2018 03:02 PM

I guess it depends on what you are making. Most big box store purchase of construction pine will more likely develop cracks as they fully dry and or are exposed to heat from sanding and such. If that is what you are going to use, it is best to let them dry indoors for sometime or fill-in the cracks if they develop. Best option might be plywood.


View johnstoneb's profile


3182 posts in 3419 days

#3 posted 02-04-2018 03:08 PM

My DIL likes to paint a lot of things for those she gets, pine, fir, and plywood. I actuall find the soft wood harder to work with.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Firewood's profile


1595 posts in 2880 days

#4 posted 02-04-2018 03:11 PM

I agree with sawdust4blood. Pine is too soft and unless you purchase clear (no knots or voids), the defects will be visible through the paint. Poplar is good for painted furniture.

-- Mike - Waukesha, WI

View Rich's profile


7466 posts in 1835 days

#5 posted 02-04-2018 04:06 PM

+1 Poplar

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 2166 days

#6 posted 02-04-2018 04:26 PM


I am just completing a set of shelves for a family member. She wanted the shelves painted. My choice of wood was maple, although I considered poplar. Maple is more durable, works well, and paints up nicely. The only negative with maple is that is twice the price of poplar in my area.

I dislike pine because the resins in the wood foul sandpaper much faster and pitch builds up on the tools requiring more frequent cleaning. But if the resins in pine are not an issue, then I see nothing wrong with kiln dried furniture grade pine.

View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 1837 days

#7 posted 02-04-2018 04:56 PM

Poplar is the best material for painted furniture.

View bondogaposis's profile


6047 posts in 3597 days

#8 posted 02-04-2018 05:11 PM

Poplar is much more suitable for painted furniture than pine. No resins and more uniform, harder than pine, takes paint well.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2732 days

#9 posted 02-04-2018 05:33 PM


-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Andre's profile


4747 posts in 3052 days

#10 posted 02-04-2018 05:55 PM

Made a Bench Seat for my Daughter(My Favorite one!) out of Pine about 12 years ago, on it’s 3rd house and now 3 Gran Kids and still looks good? LOL! at the time here Alder was about the same price?
Made a writing desk (No Paint!) for the Wife out of Alder and Baltic Birch.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View OnhillWW's profile


316 posts in 2478 days

#11 posted 02-04-2018 07:30 PM

My 2C. Beech, birch, maple , alder, poplar. All are hard and close grained, small pored and take paint well. Depends what you can grab locally and at what price.

-- Cheap is expensive! - my Dad

View LesB's profile


3100 posts in 4689 days

#12 posted 02-04-2018 07:43 PM

I agree with the Alder recommendation but you don’t say what part of the country you live in. Some woods are not available everywhere.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Woodyvolt's profile


81 posts in 1407 days

#13 posted 02-04-2018 08:42 PM

Thanks to all for the reply’s.

I live in rural central Kansas and only have one local source for material. They do not stock poplar which seems to be the choice of the reply’s.

I will contact them tomorrow and see if they can special order poplar at a reasonable price.

I keep cherry, walnut, and oak to work with but don’t want to use it if it will be painted.

View ArtMann's profile


1483 posts in 2062 days

#14 posted 02-05-2018 03:52 AM

Another possibility is soft (red) maple. unlike what the name says, soft maple is not soft. It is just softer than hard maple. It is considerably harder than poplar and it also takes paint well. Around here, it is a little less expensive than hard maple. I don’t know if it is available in Kansas.

View Aj2's profile


4073 posts in 3044 days

#15 posted 02-05-2018 06:40 AM

Pine is not that easy to work with. Alder is a good choice if you can get it. You might not want to paint it once you see how nice it is. I have a alder cabinet if I wasn’t so darn poor it would have been made from Cherry. :)
Let me know if you would like to see pic.

-- Aj

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