Finishing Southern Yellow pine


CalledtoCreate88
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Hey everyone, this is my first post here. I'm new to this forum and even newer to woodworking.

I just picked up a new Delta table saw, got it all set up this past weekend, and for my first "project" I'm planning on making a couple kitchen shelves.

Since I'm just starting out, I plan on using dimensional SYP from my local box store because I don't want to be out a bunch of money if (when) I make mistakes. From what I've read, it can be a little tricky to get a good dye/stain on pine because of it's "grain" structure that accepts the dye/stain at different rates. So what are your recommendations for a good finish for a kitchen shelf?

I've heard good things about Old Master's Wiping stains, and I'm going for their "Pecan" color. Do you think this would work well with a Poly clear?

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First of all, if you want good finishing results and to avoid much frustration, abandon the idea that wood needs a stain. Even with spray equipment & lots of skill, the results will be okay at best when finishing construction lumber like pine, spruce, fir & the like. 

A good finish that is easy to apply & very durable is a wiping varnish like General Finishes Arm-R-Seal. It will give the wood a warmer tone that is quite pleasing. 

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I agree with drzaius. My advice if you want to save money and get good results is to go an isle or two over at your big box and get some of their 1x pine shelving lumber. Or, spend a bit more and get some poplar. In either case, painting will give best results. However, if you must stain, apply a coat of Seal Coat shellac, sand it smooth, and then use an oil based gel stain. Good luck.

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2 hours ago, CalledtoCreate88 said:

Since I'm just starting out, I plan on using dimensional SYP from my local box store because I don't want to be out a bunch of money if (when) I make mistakes. 

Welcome!

This is a common idea with people new to the hobby, and I also thought this when I first got started. However, it is actually a flawed line of thought. Construction lumber from big box stores is typically very wet, unstable, and full of knots. All of these things work against you and will make you more likely to get frustrated and make mistakes, or at least require more work.  With careful board selection you can find some clear grain and fairly straight boards at the big box, but you’ll still be dealing with wet lumber. 

I would recommend finding a local lumber yard and buying some kiln dried and surfaced poplar, ash, or whatever hardwood is cheap in your area. It’s not as expensive as one might think and it’s significantly nicer to work with, especially if you don’t have a fully equipped shop.

Everyone makes mistakes, the pros are just better at fixing their mistakes.

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Welcome to the forum! All the above advice is good. One reason newcomers think (like I once did) that "good" lumber is to expensive to learn on is that all they know is the high $$$ "project boards" from the home center. Usually poplar and red oak, perhaps the occasional plank of walnut or maple in some localities. The awful truth is that those boards are horribly over priced. Even buying fully surfaced material from a hardwood lumber dealer is typically 1/2 to 1/4 the cost of similar material from the box store. Share your general location, maybe one of us is nearby, and can assist you in finding a source.

If hardwood just isn't in the cards, buy your pine and store it for a couple of months to let some of the moisture escape. Stack it on stickers, or stand it vertically against the wall so you don't induce any more warpage that can be avoided. Buy the clearest lumber you can, usually 2x10 or 2x12, and plan to waste out the "pith", the center of the tree. With careful choice and storage, it is possible to obtain decent lumber this way. For pine.

Also, feel free to discuss your tool collection and shop layout. There is a wide range of equipment and experience among us, and some can almost always offer advice or assistance that relates to your situation.

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Oooook, I got more than I was asking for with that post...which is great! I welcome all the advice I can get.

Honestly, I already agree with all of you. I've never really cared for stain, I just figured that pine would be pretty boring without something to give it some color. If I'll be using hardwoods, I'd definitely try to keep it as close to natural as possible. Thanks for the heads up on General Finishes. Those look like a good option for me. Also, from some of the videos I've watched, it seems many people are using just oil (tung, teak, linseed, Danish) as a finish. What are your thoughts on those?

33 minutes ago, wtnhighlander said:

Even buying fully surfaced material from a hardwood lumber dealer is typically 1/2 to 1/4 the cost of similar material from the box store. Share your general location, maybe one of us is nearby, and can assist you in finding a source.

If hardwood just isn't in the cards, buy your pine and store it for a couple of months to let some of the moisture escape. Stack it on stickers, or stand it vertically against the wall so you don't induce any more warpage that can be avoided. Buy the clearest lumber you can, usually 2x10 or 2x12, and plan to waste out the "pith", the center of the tree. With careful choice and storage, it is possible to obtain decent lumber this way. For pine.

Also, feel free to discuss your tool collection and shop layout. There is a wide range of equipment and experience among us, and some can almost always offer advice or assistance that relates to your situation.

I didn't know that a hardwood dealer would be that much cheaper. Honestly I haven't been to one yet. I have one just 5 minutes away that local woodworkers (from a Facebook group) have recommended, but they've been closed due to Covid. I'll definitely check them out when they open. For reference, I'm in Pensacola, Florida.

A question here, what is a "sticker"?

As for tool collection and layout, I just bought a house a couple months ago with a 20x24 detached workshop. The former owner tried to do woodworking, but I'm going to have to deconstruct the wrap-around "workbench" he's made in the shop.

No solid plans for the shop yet, but I'm a mechanic, so it's gonna be a shared space for mechanic work and woodwork. I currently only have a Delta 36-725t2 table saw and a Dewalt orbital sander - hence why I'm starting out with just shelves as a first project. But I plan to buy tools as I need them for my upcoming projects (end tables, nightstands, bed frame, floating desk)

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Pensecola sounds like a nice place to be. Along the coast, you will probably learn all about wood movement in short order! :P

Your garage is a good size for a home shop. I would suggest lioking for a jointer and planer as soon as possible, as you will need some way to make boards flat and smooth, especially as your projects increase in complexity. These aren't cheap tools, so if budget constraints exist, I recommend planer first. There are many tricks to make the planer do a jointer's work, but not so much the other way. Even if you decide to go all neanderthal on us (pure hand tool user), a planer is one machine worth it's weight in walnut.

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All good advice. My 3 hardwood dealers would just as soon sell me 1 board foot of lumber as a hobbyist as they would 100 bf to a contractor but I probably pay a tad more. I’ve been Woodworking, or working with wood for about 8 years now and still cringe at the idea of staining or dyeing wood which is sissy but I’m comfortable with that. So if I want a piece to look like red oak, I buy red oak and treat it with the afore mention Arm-R-Seal. Good luck bud on your project and welcome to the forum. 

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13 hours ago, drzaius said:

First of all, if you want good finishing results and to avoid much frustration, abandon the idea that wood needs a stain. Even with spray equipment & lots of skill, the results will be okay at best when finishing construction lumber like pine, spruce, fir & the like. 

If you stick with pine for whatever reason, avoiding stain even in dried wood is wise. My experience is also limited, but my first project after buying a planer (like here, the folks at Rockler suggested a planar high up on the list of necessities) was to tear apart a wobbly workbench I had made years ago from pine. I turned it into a table and just put arm-r-seal on it. It looks great for what it is knots and all. So I tried to build another project (I believe a picture frame) out of pine and wanted to stain it. It looked awful on scraps, so I abandoned that and read about differential stain penetration in woods like pine. Then I tried dying it, which was better, but still not as pretty as the wood itself. Just some experience from another novice who bumbled his way to the same conclusion drzaius provided. BTW, the book I read to help me with these kinds of issues was Understanding Wood Finishing: How to Select and Apply the Right Finish (American Woodworker). https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Wood-Finishing-Comprehensive-Troubleshooting/dp/1565235665/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?dchild=1&keywords=bob+flexner&qid=1591700588&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFTTU1OQ1ZSREhHSEEmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTAzNzE5MTQ5T0ZVSU8yMlFKUlQmZW5jcnlwdGVkQWRJZD1BMDg4NDcwNDFWNVAzUElZN1I0NUMmd2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl

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11 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Pensecola sounds like a nice place to be. Along the coast, you will probably learn all about wood movement in short order! :P

Your garage is a good size for a home shop. I would suggest lioking for a jointer and planer as soon as possible, as you will need some way to make boards flat and smooth, especially as your projects increase in complexity. These aren't cheap tools, so if budget constraints exist, I recommend planer first. There are many tricks to make the planer do a jointer's work, but not so much the other way. Even if you decide to go all neanderthal on us (pure hand tool user), a planer is one machine worth it's weight in walnut.

Yeah :unsure: Definitely not looking forward to experiencing the effects of wood movement. A/C is a necessity here during the summer, but as much as is possible we try to keep the house open for some fresh air, so I'm sure some movement will be inevitable. Though so far the only project it could cause an issue is the bed I'm planning on making. I have a couple ideas to minimize movement in the headboard, one of which is to hopefully find some quarter sawn lumber. Plans aren't finalized for it yet, so we'll see what I can learn by then.

As for a planer and jointer...yeah, I figured they were almost a necessity. I've been wondering how so many people make do without them. It is a pretty big investment for me though, especially after buying a table saw. Hopefully I'll be able to find a good used one at some point.

3 hours ago, Dave S said:

Just some experience from another novice who bumbled his way to the same conclusion drzaius provided. BTW, the book I read to help me with these kinds of issues was Understanding Wood Finishing: How to Select and Apply the Right Finish (American Woodworker)

Thanks for the good advice, and for the book recommendation. I've already added it to my list.

 

And thanks again for the help, everyone! It looks like I chose a good forum to join :)

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20 minutes ago, CalledtoCreate88 said:

Yeah :unsure: Definitely not looking forward to experiencing the effects of wood movement. A/C is a necessity here during the summer, but as much as is possible we try to keep the house open for some fresh air, so I'm sure some movement will be inevitable. Though so far the only project it could cause an issue is the bed I'm planning on making. I have a couple ideas to minimize movement in the headboard, one of which is to hopefully find some quarter sawn lumber. Plans aren't finalized for it yet, so we'll see what I can learn by then.

As for a planer and jointer...yeah, I figured they were almost a necessity. I've been wondering how so many people make do without them. It is a pretty big investment for me though, especially after buying a table saw. Hopefully I'll be able to find a good used one at some point.

Thanks for the good advice, and for the book recommendation. I've already added it to my list.

 

And thanks again for the help, everyone! It looks like I chose a good forum to join :)

I have purchased hardwoods from this company in Mobile (not far from you). I think that their prices are at least competitive. You might check them out. BTW, they will sell you any quantity from one board to a truck load. This is unusual around here.

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