I’ve built too many drawers to remember. Most of the drawer sides were from pine or poplar – I try to match my secondary woods to the region from which the original piece was built. If I’m copying a piece from a museum, or something that I’ve found on the World Wide Web, I generally have that information at hand. If that information is left to a guess, I have a rather simplistic rational for determining what species to use.
In evaluating the major city centers of period furniture, anything north of Newport, Rhode Island (you know, the area of Goddard and Townsend) I use pine as my secondary. South of there I consider poplar to be the wood of choice – that extends all the way down into Philadelphia and Baltimore. (Federal period pieces from around Baltimore often referenced “whitewood,” which was, indeed, poplar.)
As you make your way into the South, you begin to see pieces built with yellow pine as a secondary wood. I have built a few pieces from the South using yellow pine. I’ve built a few pieces for Southern customers, some ask for yellow pine and some do not. And I’ve built at least one truly Northern piece of furniture and used yellow pine as my choice for secondary wood. That’s because I was building it for myself, so I could get away with my transgression.
Here’s what I’ve discovered. No drawer slides like a drawer built with yellow pine. What if you apply wax to pine? Not as slick. Paraffin to poplar? Nope. It’s not as smooth an operation. Yellow pine, in my opinion, wins hands down.
What’s your opinion?