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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    Default Pine for Work Benches

    It may be that you are considering using pine for the top off a work bench but worry about it being a bit soft.

    My impression is this. I used MGP12 Pine for a top and soaked it in boiled linseed oil. That was 9 months ago. I don't know much about pine but the MGP12 is much denser and harder than the normal white stuff you get. But when the bench was made the top did seem a bit soft. But as the months have passed it seems to have gotten harder and harder. It may be my imagination but there seems to be some sort of resin or oil in the pine which hardens or maybe it was the linseed oil. It do not know. But the result is that the top is quite tuff actually and well and truly strong enough to withstand the tasks I require. I would not want it any harder for fear of damaging the work pieces I use.

    That is my experience anyway. The MGP 12 is cheap enough, easy to obtain and works well. Planned up it does not look so bad either.
    My age is still less than my number of posts

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Default

    chook,
    I had not thought about it but now you point out the obvious it does sort of mature with time. I guess most woods do.
    I opted for pine for a number of reasons. First I got it free. I had seen plenty other pine benches used by professional joiners and lastly was ease of construction. No need for router sled flattening or chain blocks to lift the top.
    Pine has become more popular for bench builds of late. People are catching on.
    Regards
    John

  4. #3
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    Default

    What got me thinking about this was that yesterday I had to cut a bit of the pine that I made the bench from. There was a length left over sitting in the timber rack since last year. Now when I made the bench I did almost all the joinery by hand. It did not seem ethical to make a bench for hand tool work using very much machinery. (I saw a video of a chap making an elaborate cabinet for his rather nice collection of hand tools, but the entire construction was done using machines. This struck me as odd.) Anyway when I cut the timber for the bench I recall thinking that it cut and planed rather easily. Not so now. The little bit of timber was much more resistant to the saw and the plane than it was previously and the top of the bench which seemed easily dented is now robust. Not only that but I flattened it when I made it and it has not moved since to any degree I can discern. That may be in part because I oriented the timber so that the boards are on edge, the bench being made of laminated 70 by 90. But whatever the reason the pine has stayed flat. Using the pine was my one concern but unless I get some free timber, work bench version 6.2 when it comes along will be made of pine too.
    My age is still less than my number of posts

  5. #4
    Join Date
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    Default

    Chook, the answer may be quite simple. Radiata belongs to the 'southern yellow pine' group, which means it is quite hard & dense for a softwood & the latewood rings in particular are very hard. The higher the moisture content of any wood, the softer it is. It's my understanding that construction grade timbers are only dried to around 18% MC, and your wood probably wasn't all that much less than that if you purchased it from a place with a reasonably rapid turnover. Since then, it has probably equilibrated at something more like 11 or 12% MC., & as a consequence, will be much harder than when you first got it.

    Cheers,
    IW

  6. #5
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    Default

    The moisture content was the other thing I was worried about. I went to some trouble to allow for movement. Anyway, movement or no the top was flat and still is. imagine that the timber is much drier after baking in my hot shed through a summer.

    The timber has significant bands of very hand dense resinous wood interspersed with softer bands.
    My age is still less than my number of posts

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by chook View Post
    ...The timber has significant bands of very hand dense resinous wood interspersed with softer bands.
    Yep, prominent early/wood (soft) and late-wood (hard) bands is a characteristic of this group of Pines. Note how you don't see that in Hoop pine, which is one of the features that makes it suitable for casting patterns.

    Cheers,
    IW

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Brisbane - Southside
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    Default

    very interesting. Thanks for posting Chook.

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