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Thread: Pine dovetails

  1. #1
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    Pine dovetails

    I am about to construct drawers for a chest. I usually do the drawer sides/back with poplar, but oddly enough I am having a problem acquiring it. I am thinking of substituting clear pine and would like to know how it does with machine dovetails, i.e. blowout or other problems. Just looking for a heads up. TIA

  2. #2
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    I'm surprised you are having trouble getting poplar, but

    I would look around a little more to find some poplar if that's what the problem is, my point being I much prefer it over pine. Much more durable, sharper cuts, better to work with in my opinion, and without checking any prices at hand I think it's less expensive. Far and away preferable in my opinion.

  3. #3
    Pine could work. I made some practice dovetails with pine. The nice part was that when they fit too tightly, I just assembled/disassembled the joint a few times, and it was perfect. The pine was so soft that it smushed in just enough for a perfect fit.

    Now before we go any further, we should clarify whether you're talking about white pine (very soft) or yellow pine (medium/hard) But before I'd go to the trouble of making a super strong joint in a super weak wood, I'd find a better wood. It could even be the same wood you built the rest of the project out of. In my area, Red Oak is affordable, costing less than clear white pine.

  4. #4
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    The softer the material, the more important that the cutters be sharp and that you do that important light climb cut across the face of the board before diving into the wood to cut the dovetails. Otherwise, you shouldn't have too much trouble using the clear pine. It will make very nice drawers.
    “Never raise your hands to your children, it leaves your groin unprotected.” - Red Buttons

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  5. #5
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    I've made dovetails with pine, like Jim said the cutters should be sharp. Some of the nicest fitting dovetails I've made with pine.

  6. #6
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    Why poplar or pine? Instead of a hardwood? Just curious. I usually use birch, or cherry.

  7. #7
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    Cherry is $7 a BF plus 7.75% sales tax. Birch is about $4.50. Poplar is about $2.25. Pine I don't know. Thanks for the input. I will go with poplar and try a piece of pine for test purposes. Bit will be a brand new Katana 14degree 1/2".

    I must agree with Jim. The pine would make nice looking drawers.

  8. #8
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    Frank Klausz

    IIRC, Frank Klausz uses pine for drawer sides in his "Dovetail a Drawer" DVD (hand-cut dovetails FWIW). He uses an oak or other hardwood "runner" on the drawer bottom if it will carry a lot of weight. He also leaves unfinished to keep the scent of pine (personal preference on that point).

    Who am I to argue with Frank Klausz? Although he does cut the pins first...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karl Brogger View Post
    Why poplar or pine? Instead of a hardwood? Just curious. I usually use birch, or cherry.
    Poplar is a hardwood. Poplar and soft maple are somewhat the most popular species for drawer boxes.
    “Never raise your hands to your children, it leaves your groin unprotected.” - Red Buttons

    If you want your spouse to listen and pay strict attention to every word you say -- talk in your sleep...

    Be safety conscious. 80% of people are caused by accidents.

    Equestrian Sports. The most fun you can have with your boots still on...


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim McFarland View Post
    IIRC, Frank Klausz uses pine for drawer sides in his "Dovetail a Drawer" DVD (hand-cut dovetails FWIW). He uses an oak or other hardwood "runner" on the drawer bottom if it will carry a lot of weight.
    That would be my concern as well-- white pine seems too soft for such a "high wear" item as a drawer side, at least without something harder and/or slipperier as a bearing surface on the bottom of the side pieces.

  11. #11
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    I like SYP and Fir as well as poplar for drawers mounted on slides. Ash is great for traditional drawers if you can find it.
    Joe

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Poplar is a hardwood. Poplar and soft maple are somewhat the most popular species for drawer boxes.
    Yes it is. It's gotta be on the softer end of things for hardwood though.

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