I'm planning on building a base for a queen-sized mattress, and need to decide on a material for the base's sub-structure frame. I am planning on covering/cladding this frame with a hardwood like White or French Oak. I know that mixing hardwoods and softwoods together is ill-advised due to wood movement especially in softwood, but building the entire sub-structure frame out of even a cheap hardwood will push this project way out of budget.

There is a company in my area that sells reclaimed Baltic Pine (I live in South Africa). I've worked with it before and it seems to be about the same density as our regular local pine (may be a bit harder if I do a thumbnail-press-test). This option would be great as it would bring me in way under budget.

My second option would be to use cheap 15mm Pine Plywood (I think these have an Okoume core) and laminate them together to create the needed structural components. However, I've worked out that for this project, I would therefore need to purchase at least 4 sheets which will cost me 6x the amount of purchasing the required Baltic Pine.

I haven't given any thought yet to what method I will be using to attach the hardwood to the frame, but I'll probably end up settling on using regular cold wood glue and countersunk screws.

So my question is, is there a way I can make this work using the Baltic Pine?

The picture below is just a depiction of what I have in mind, using the frame posts as an example.

enter image description here

  • 3
    Hi, welcome to Woodworking. There are hundreds if not thousands of hand-tool workbenches out there built from pine that outlasted their builder or first owner, does that answer your basic question?
    – Graphus
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 16:35

2 Answers 2


In short, to answer your question, I don't think this is the best design for softwood construction.

I think the material you choose will drive the joinery, not the other way around. Either will do, but the best way to make a carcase out of plywood will not be the best way to make a carcase out of pine.

Plywood takes fasteners and glue really well, and is very stable in all directions under most circumstances. So simple joints like you show will be stable and probably won't change much under static and racking loads.

Pine, depending on overall quality, will likely deform and can wallow out where fasteners go through it. It will move with the relative humidity along one axis more than the others over time, loosening glue and screw joints. So, for example, the way you show the pine on either side of the foot or compression piece may start to move and check over time because of natural wood movement and racking forces.

Decide on the material, then use that material the way that reinforces its strengths and minimizes the weaknesses.

Or, choose your design and let that inform the material you use.

  • 1
    Alternatively, choose the assembly methods desired then pick the material that works best with those methods.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 17:55
  • @FreeMan, absolutely true, though in this case the question is primarily about what material to use. But we can turn it around and say if a specific plan is in mind, then choose the appropriate material for that plan.
    – user5572
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 22:15
  • @jdv, my sincerest apologies for the delayed reply ... the virus caught hold of me. thankfully okay now. Thank you so so muh for your feedback, It does makes sense what you are saying. I'm going to bite the bullet and opt to build the core frame from plywood. Does the type of Plywood matter? Do I have to go with something like a birch plywood, or would a cheap Pine Shutterply work?
    – Shalan
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 22:14
  • Cheaper "one side good" should suffice. It depends on how much of it is expected to be seen and "felt". Expensive birch veneers finish nicely, whereas even OSG can be a little rustic.
    – user5572
    Commented Aug 28, 2021 at 22:49
  • no part of the core frame will be seen or felt
    – Shalan
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 22:54

I see no reason that your bed would not work with the framework built of pine. All over the world, structures from sheds and other outbuildings to whole houses are built with softwoods and to me your component parts do not seem undersized for the intended use.

When it comes to mixing hardwoods and conifers being ill-advised, I don't know about it. The traditional base for European veneered and marking furniture was pine. Drawers in fine furniture usually had bodies built of softwood with only the front of hardwood, a system still in use today. So there is actually a long tradition to do just as you plan to - use hardwood for appearance and softwood for those parts that are not visible.

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