All About Pine Wood

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In this series we’ll be discussing different wood types. The first wood up for discussion is Pine or ‘Pinus’ as this species is known, but careful how you pronounce that one! There is so much pine used in The UK that it’s worth discussing it in detail. The first thing to say is that names for pine are often confused and grouped together with names such as Deal, Pitch or Spruce.

Most countries have pine trees (there are up to 125 types of pine) and the difference in the timbers from various pine trees are enormous. Generally speaking, pines fall into 3 broad categories: red pine, white pine and yellow pine. The most popular of these pines being used in Europe are Scandinavian Red Pine, Russian White Pine and Quebec Yellow Pine.

Scandinavian Red Pine

Scandinavian Red Pine

This is a reasonably dense pine that is ethically grown so it’s a popular choice that is used worldwide. It is distinctive because it tends to have pinkish stripes running through it. In other words there are lighter and darker ‘stripes’ in the wood.

Russian White Pine

Russian White Pine

This is grown in the far north of Russia in an area called Angel. It’s very cold there resulting in a slow grown timber, meaning it’s one of the strongest pines around but it’s also one of the more expensive ones. It has small/no knots due to the trunk being so long before any branches appear (and as we all know the knots show where the branches of the tree were). It is very pale in colour and also very consistent with small knots if there are any.

Quebec Yellow Pine

Quebec Yellow Pine

As name suggests, this pine is from Quebec and indeed other parts of Canada. It has distinctive large knots (and therefore large branches) and a strong, pleasant smell with a light, warm yellowy hue to it. It is not as dense as the above 2 but it is great for machining and therefore widely used in furniture manufacturing although the European furniture industry is in decline since the more cost effective furniture is being imported from The Far East.

Incidentally the Pines from The Far East are more of a hard wood than the soft pines we are used to. They are incredibly dense and heavy and often not from renewable sources which is something we should all be aware of, but the quality has improved and the prices of Far Eastern furniture is generally unmatchable in Europe.

The UK had large areas of pine trees offering a medium density wood that is ideal for manufacturing, but our supplies were mostly exhausted well before the Victorian era. About 2% of our forests still remain and a lot of it is pine that is protected (thankfully), although Scots Pine is still ethically produced in some parts of Scotland, and a few other pockets of the UK still produce ethically grown pine often collectively called Deal or Softwood. White Deal or Spruce is often used for the manufacture of the ‘budget furniture’ popular in our superstores.

During Victorian times and in particular during the Industrial Revolution, there was a huge demand for pine with one of the main markets being for buildings. As anyone will know who’s lived in a Victorian house (and more modern houses), just about all the doors, window frames, stair cases and other permanent fixtures are made from pine and often a Genus called Pinus Sylvestris. This is a Scandinavian Redwood and many of the phone calls and emails we receive are asking how they can match new pine with old pine which more often than not is Scandinavian Red Pine.

As the name suggests the wood has a reddish tinge and the older the wood, the more prominent this reddish tinge tends to be, so matching new, pale Softwood to Scandinavian Red Pine (for example matching new skirting to old floor boards) can be tricky but Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Tints or Osmo Polyx Oil Tints can be used to achieve this. The reason being, that oils soak into the wood, colouring it and protecting it at the same time, so the staining process is eliminated. The usual way to go about matching different shades of wood is to impose colour onto the lightest wood with a water or solvent based colouring liquid, known as a stain or a dye so that it can then be over coated with a clear varnish or similar. The downside to staining is it’s virtually impossible to find the right shade off the shelf and inevitably some mixing is required. For example, 1 litre of Manns Classic Pine Stain in Honey could be mixed with a little red or orange from the Manns Classic Wood Dye range, but mixing colours is often not appealing to customers as it can be time consuming and difficult to repeat accurately where small measurements are concerned. Fiddes Hardwax Oil, in the American shade, is ideal for the above scenario. For example a neat coat of American Hardwax Oil could be applied to the new wood and then a 2nd coat of American mixed 50/50 with clear could be applied to the light and dark wood to tie it all in better. Colour matching is always more effective when the same product is used on all woods. Of course the mix required all depends on what colour you are trying to achieve but there is a good range of colours available in the Hard Wax Oil and Polyx Oil ranges so it is recommended for most colour matching requirements.

Interesting Pine Stats

  • Pine trees have a life time of 100 to 1,000 years.
  • The oldest known pine is 4,840 years old. It is still alive and is one of the oldest known organisms in the world!
  • They are evergreens.
  • They vary in height from just 3 mtrs to 80 mtrs (Sugar Pine).
  • Some food sources from the pine tree are pine oil, pine nuts, and the white interior of the bark of some pines can be used to make pine bread!

This link has further interesting and detailed information about pine.

Well I hope you found this piece interesting, if so and you are pining for more (groan) look in next week when we’ll be discussing Oak and how to finish it.

Need help and advice with colour matching Pine?

Colour matching wood can be difficult but our resident experts are on hand to help with free advice on which products and methods to use. For help and advice contact us here.

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