I love mission style furniture, but oak is expensive! Can I use pine?

I’m thinking of building a bed in the Mission style, but would like to make it with knotty pine instead of the traditional oak. Can this wood be used for this style of furniture, and if so how much thicker must it be for proper strength?

That’s a great woodworking question. There’s no need to increase thickness on larger parts, but there are two things you should consider for other areas. First, and most importantly, don’t allow knots to be present in any of the thin slats that are characteristic of this style. You may need to use a higher grade of pine for these parts. Also, as you build, cut test samples of the smaller parts, and flex them by hand. Use your judgment to determine if they’re too flimsy, and to decide how best to beef them up (either by increasing thickness or width). The challenge will be arriving at a strong design, while at the same time not throwing the traditional Mission proportions out of whack. Given the price of oak, I think this exercise is worthwhile.

Posted on February 19th, 2013

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