Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) is the biggest conifer native to eastern North America, regularly growing up to 120 feet tall. Although it is a softwood, don’t dismiss this species as just another variety of construction lumber. For centuries, Eastern White Pine has been used for furniture making and other fine woodworking as well as high quality construction.
What are the Properties of Eastern White Pine?
Eastern White Pine is a huge tree that grows quickly with long, straight trunks. Its heartwood is pale brown, while sapwood varies from light yellow to white. The wood is soft, with a Janka rating of 380 lbf, and works easily even with hand tools, making it perfect for projects that require a hand-shaped profile. Eastern White Pine’s softness and fine, straight grain make it a dream to work. It also glues and holds finishes extremely well.
How is Eastern White Pine Different from Other Construction Lumber?
Although commonly used for construction in the northeast, Eastern White Pine is a cut above other softwoods in that category. Spruce, other pine species, and fir aren’t ideal for fine woodworking because their boards, cut from smaller trees, frequently contain pith and they’re usually only dried down to about 17% moisture content. Eastern White Pine, on the other hand, is usually cut from giant trees so boards are pith-free and is typically available dried down to 7-9% moisture content, making it more suitable for woodworking. Dried Eastern White Pine resists shrinking and swelling very well and is as stable as cherry. Its uniform texture and unobtrusive growth rings also make it stand out from the crowd.
How is Eastern White Pine Used?
Eastern White Pine has been a popular choice for furniture making since colonial times because it is so widely available and easy to work. Furniture made from Eastern White Pine is usually stained or painted rather than clear coated, since its figuring isn’t showy. Being so soft, it will get dinged up, but that just adds to its character. Eastern White Pine is also used for millwork, doors, cabinets, and flooring. It is also particularly well suited to carving.
Hardwoods Inc. carries 4/4, 5/4, and 8/4 furniture grade stock. It typically comes S2S, SLR1E – surfaced 2 sides / straight-line ripped 1-edge. We also carry both 1/4″ and 3/4″ plywood in a variety of grades.
Read about European Antique Pine Warehouse, an Atlanta area company that builds furniture with Eastern White Pine, here.
Photos courtesy of NELMA. Read more about Eastern White Pine on their website.