What kind of sticks would you build with?

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What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby mikeschn » Tue Sep 30, 2014 5:29 pm

You know, I've always built with pine. It's light, and it's strong. And once it ages, it's really tough.

But lately I've been getting lots of pine that is bent, warped and twisted. I don't buy them that way, but sitting around the shop, under controlled conditions, they warp and twist right in front of my eyes.

So in this day of fast grown pine, is pine still a viable choice? Or is there something better?

Just think, if you were going to build something like this, what kind of wood would you use?

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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby Tom Kurth » Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:37 pm

As a cabinetmaker, my go-to secondary wood has been poplar for years. While poplar is itself somewhat unstable (not nearly so much as plantation grown pine), once you have it fixed in place and encased in a wall or attached to a stable panel material such as plywood, that instability will be minimized. Poplar is relatively strong and light and is soft enough to work easily. It can split a little if you use a fastener too near the end but so will pine.

The price for poplar can hardly be beat, currently around $1/bd. ft. from a commercial supplier. As with most cabinet materials, you will pay much less if you can buy through a friendly cabinet shop. The mark-up at big box building suppliers is understandably outrageous for hardwoods--they simply don't handle enough. And traditional lumber yards may not handle any at all since their base clientele is builders not cabinetmakers. Specialty hardwood dealers are just as outrageously priced since they are essentially selling in little dribs and drabs, 5 ft., 10ft., 20 ft. lots. Our cabinet shop, by comparison, buys in units ranging from 300 to 500 bd. ft. We get plywood in lots from 20 sheets to full bunks of 80 sheets.

I think soft maple is another possibility but I am not personally familiar with it.

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Tom
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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby mikeschn » Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:59 pm

Thanks Tom,

Is that the green stuff I see at the big box stores?

I've played with that in the past. It's fun to build with, but it doesn't stain very nice.

Of course that's not applicable when you are talking about framing!

Sounds like a pretty good option to pine!!!

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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby MtnDon » Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:14 pm

The rapid growth can influence the stability. But moisture loss and gain are a big factor as well. Softwoods are kiln dried to about 12%. That is the aim point. Once it leaves the mill all bets are off. Hardwoods are dried to around 6%. Here in the SW wood wants to be drier (most of the time) than the way it comes from the mill. Other areas with high humidity wood MC travels in the other direction. It is a struggle.

I do have a MC meter; moisture content. It helps me make better choices of the wood I buy. It can be frustrating at times, when the nicest looking piece has an MC that is way out of line. I store all my wood that is not going to be immediately used on a rack with "stickers" between boards to allow circulation of air. And I either weight the stacks with steel or bind then with ratchet straps. The idea being to try and hold them straight. Not always successful.

Here'sa link to info with a chart on equilibrium wood moisture content (EMC).
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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby mikeschn » Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:23 pm

Don,

So is pine with the right MC a good bet, or is a different wood a better choice?

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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby MtnDon » Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:35 pm

I like pine for many things. I like poplar too if I want or need better screw holding power. It is more dense and does not tear out as readily. If using a power screwdriver in pine it is easy to rip the "threads" in the wood out. In poplar it is easy to break hardened screws if overtightened when using a power driver and not using a clutch drive. I drill pilot holes for every screw connection on hardwoods; larger for shank and thread clearance on the piece to be attached... called the side member. Then a small pilot for the main member, where you need the threads to grip tightly. TB glue too.


You asked what wood we'd use for that illustration. I'd use steel tubing. ;)
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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby tony.latham » Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:38 pm

mikeschn wrote:Thanks Tom,

Is that the green stuff I see at the big box stores?

I've played with that in the past. It's fun to build with, but it doesn't stain very nice.

Of course that's not applicable when you are talking about framing!

Sounds like a pretty good option to pine!!!

Mike...


Yep, the green stuff is poplar. The stuff I get here is clear, straight and dry. It doesn't move, is easy to mill, and screws grab it. I use it for spars and lots of other spots that need something a notch above pine.

Tony
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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby bobhenry » Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:54 am

Mon Mar 19, 2007 1:07 pm

I HAVE FOUND THAT #1 GRADE 2X10 OR 2X12 SOUTHERN YELLOW PINE STOCK IS FANTASTIC CUT DOWN INTO 2X2 OR 2X3 AS SPARS. THERE IS NO GRAIN RELEASE ( boards gone wild) AND NO STRUCTURAL DEFECTS KNOTS SPLITTING OR CHECKS BECAUSE OF THE GRADE. COSTS A BIT MORE BUT YOU ARE NOT THROWING AWAY PART OF THE BOARD BECAUSE OF DEFECTS.

FOR FINISHED PROJECTS I LOVE THE LUMBER WITH MAYBE A LITTLE LIGHT STAIN AND A CLEAR COAT OF POLY. THE GRAIN REALLY POPS. I MAKE SHAKER STYLE WOOD BENCHES OUT OF 2X12 AND SAND AND CLEAR COAT THEM THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL.

Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:10 am

I ripped my 2x2 spars (1 1/2" x 1 1/2") out of southern yellow pine 2x12's ( these are usually #1 grade)
Look at the grain pattern when you buy them and select only the straightest grain possible with absolutely no knots. After cutting them let them relax for 2 days. any modest crowning (bowing) place it upward as gravity will flatten it out. Some may twist like a cork screw some will go wild and bow like a long bow. I cut 6 more than I needed and 4 went crazy. I was able to use them later in short sections as cabinet frames and other uses but not as spars.
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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby bobhenry » Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:17 am

Image

I had to look long and hard for this image.

If you are standing looking at the end grain try and select the grain as shown in "A"

The "B" selection will most likely cup in the direction of the grain

And "C" while more stable than "B" may have a greater tendency to twist
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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby alaska teardrop » Wed Oct 01, 2014 11:18 am

Mike,
I can't offer much to this discussion. But I can put you on to a really good place not far from home to buy lumber, tools and supplies. And knowledgeable advice.
L.L. Johnson lumber Mfg. in Charlotte, Mi.
http://www.theworkbench.com/
Fred
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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby aggie79 » Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:25 pm

Mike,

I'm going to go contrarian and suggest good quality plywood even if you rip/cut it into more traditional framing sizes. Sometimes you can find Arauco plywood at the big box stores. It is good quality and the "end grain" will hold fasteners.

In Angib's haul of fame, as I recall, there is either a Midget or Widget that used (CNC cut) plywood framing. Edit: My first post was from my phone. After finding the URL - http://www.angib.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/teardrop/tear01.htm#widget2 - I am a little less certain that all of the framing was from plywood. Anyway, it looks like it may have been.

Lester framed his standy with a combination of dimension lumber and plywood - http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?p=269449#p269449.

Take care,
Tom
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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby SLUG36 » Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:40 pm

I have to agree with Bobhenry on the 2x's. I ripped 2x4's into 1/4" strips and laminated to get the "hoops" in my build.
Making big pieces of wood into the wrong size..... for over 30 years....
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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby mikeschn » Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:13 pm

Hey Fred,

Thanks for that link.

BTW, did you ever check out barn door lumber? http://www.barndoorlumber.com/

A pro like you, now in MI, needs a place close by for real wood!

Mike...


alaska teardrop wrote:Mike,
I can't offer much to this discussion. But I can put you on to a really good place not far from home to buy lumber, tools and supplies. And knowledgeable advice.
L.L. Johnson lumber Mfg. in Charlotte, Mi.
http://www.theworkbench.com/
Fred
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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby mikeschn » Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:18 pm

Tom,

I like Arauco plywood for the moisture resistant glue. But I made sides out of it for a hauling trailer, and the sides bowed terribly. So i'm not such a big fan of Arauco any more.

Mike...

aggie79 wrote:Mike,

I'm going to go contrarian and suggest good quality plywood even if you rip/cut it into more traditional framing sizes. Sometimes you can find Arauco plywood at the big box stores. It is good quality and the "end grain" will hold fasteners.

In Angib's haul of fame, as I recall, there is either a Midget or Widget that used (CNC cut) plywood framing. Edit: My first post was from my phone. After finding the URL - http://www.angib.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/teardrop/tear01.htm#widget2 - I am a little less certain that all of the framing was from plywood. Anyway, it looks like it may have been.

Lester framed his standy with a combination of dimension lumber and plywood - http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?p=269449#p269449.

Take care,
Tom
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Re: What kind of sticks would you build with?

Postby Tom Kurth » Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:36 pm

Yes, poplar is the "green stuff" and red and brown and black but mostly a creamy off-white. And you're right, it doesn't generally look good stained though it can be made to sub for walnut in the hands of an expert finisher.

The only comments I've heard that I take exception to are those regarding plywood. If you're using plywood for studs, be careful if you orient the cuts edges to your faces. Fasteners are not likely to hold well if they penetrate into the end grain plies. Most glues, likewise, will not hold well on the end grain plies--it's just like a butt joint. So, only about half of your plywood would be well-glued. If, however, you orient the face sides of the plywood to your wall surfaces you will encounter holding power the same as solid wood for both glue and mechanical fasteners, but then you may have stability, strength, and straightness issues depending on the type of plywood you're using: Sheathing grade plywoods would definitely not be recommended, and finish grades would probably be too expensive.

Ripping dimension lumber can be cost-effective if you can find good stuff. Lots of 2x4s are center cut with the unstable pith included. Ripping these will give you 1x2s "crookedy as a boar's ****, as my daddy once said.

Best,
Tom
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