Sunday, July 20, 2008

Thoughts on painted furniture

People have been making painted furniture for a long time. It ranges from gilded, lacquered, 'regal' furniture, to homely painted country furniture. Some feel that 'painted' means 'inferior'. I disagree. If I have to pick between press-board furniture with a thin veneer of hardwood on it, or solid wood furniture with paint on it, I'll take the real wood, thanks. When it comes to furniture that you're likely to find in an average person's home, painted pine is probably the most common painted furniture. There are other common finds, like 'princess suite' bedrooms which are painted white with faux gilding, and whatnot, but painted pine is probably the most common, in my opinion.
I like this furniture. I'm going to focus on making a few pieces in the near future. I'm not 100% decided whether I'll use poplar or pine, but I'll pick some wood up in the next few days and get going on at least something simple.


Bob said...

Hi Mike,
I linked to your site through Stephen's Full Chisel Blog. Very nice! I agree that painted furniture gets a bad rap and I actually like the look a lot myself. Painted Windsors, tavern table with painted base and natural top or full paint, painted chests, they all look great and are likely more representative of what common folk actually had in their homes during the period. The stuff you typically see in museums would be the minority pieces purchased by the wealthy. The every day pieces would have just gotten used up, at least in my opinion.

I like to work with pine and poplar, however, I've found that pine resin can bleed through a painted finish and leave ugly yellow/brown spots if the wood isn't sealed before painting. Poplar doesn't have this problem. If you go with pine, you may want to shellac first before painting to prevent the resin from bellding through the paint. DAMHIKT!

Metalworker Mike said...

Yes, pine can be a trial with the bleed-through. I use "Kilz" or whatever Bullseye product is on sale at the time to seal it.

I am very much a fan of painted country furniture. Maybe that's because it's easy to make. You get to hide the dovetails behind moulding, so nobody can tell how gappy they are. :)

I've got a pile of antique furniture that was undoubtedly first painted, but has been stripped and refinished at some point to increase it's salability. It's a shame, really.