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Although there are many ways to build good furniture, some requiring skills and equipment well beyond the reach of the average home workshop hobbyist, advanced techniques are not absolute musts in the construction of sturdy and attractive furniture.
Here are the basic considerations in home projects, and some special tips to make your job easy and inexpensive.
To build a piece of furniture of solid hardwood throughout would be an expensive deal. However, you can get much the same effect without sacrificing strength by using plywood or lumber core having an outside veneer of the wood you want your piece to be.
Plywood is a laminated product consisting of 5 or more plys of thin wood bonded together with glue and pressure to form a panel of uniform thickness and considerable strength. The strength is due to the plys being laid with the grain patterns alternately set at right angles to each other.
The top ply is a veneer of select wood and this is the surface that will show in the finished piece of furniture.
Lumber core differs from plywood in that it has a thick center core of butt-joined strips of solid wood sandwiched between four thin plys of veneer, two on each side. The top plys consist of the finish veneers which can be of any type of fine furniture wood while the plys directly underneath are laid with their grains running at right angles to the core and top plys.
Lumber core is much lighter than plywood and is highly resistant to warping. The glass-hard glue that bonds plywood and lumber core tends to dull tools, and since less glue is used in bonding lumber core, that material will be found to be easier on tools than plywood. For the same reason, it is easier to work with and is less inclined to splinter.
Building Children’s Furniture
In some cases plywood is more expensive than solid wood, but this is not usually the case. In fact, in the case of fine hardwood plywoods of 3/4-inch thickness, the price is usually less.
In any event, the home hobbyist usually finds that money-saving is not the important factor when he selects material for his project, since materials seldom exceed one-third of the value of the average cabinet or piece of furniture.
In almost all of his furniture projects, Bill Baker gears his instructions toward the use of plywood rather than solid wood, not only because of the factors of wood strength and outdoor durability, but also because of the simplicity in cutting out necessary pieces.
There is usually little waste, there are less operations required for the home hobbyist, and plywood is available in a very wide range of beautiful hardwoods. New techniques for edge treatment, such as Wood-Trim in matching veneers, also add simplicity to the job.
Duraply is plywood with a special over-lay surface; it is non-porous and is, therefore, easy and economical to paint. When finished, Duraply has a handsome appearance.
Nakora is the most handsome of economical plywoods for indoor furniture, particularly for modern furniture. Birch plywood is one of the strongest hardwood plywoods available and it is especially suited for colonial furniture. When it is stained—which it takes nicely without fill-ing—it can be made to resemble most any wood finish. Since it isn’t porous, it lends itself very well to painting and is especially good for children’s furniture.