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Western White Pine

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Wood identification

Wood identification

Western white pine (Pinus monticola) thrives in the deep porous soils of north-facing mountain slopes where the snow gets deep and the growing season stays short. That's why northern Idaho produces about two-thirds of the U.S. supply. In the industry, it's even called Idaho white pine. Despite the rigors of climate, specimens reach 175' in height with diameters of 8' at breast height. The silvery-gray trunks of mature forest trees usually have no branches for half or more of their height. Unlike its eastern cousin, which has a crown of widely spreading branches, western white pine has a short-branched, narrow, yet symmetrical crown. But, like eastern white pine, the pale, bluish-green needles of western white pine grow in bunches of five. Slender, slightly curved cones grow to a length of about 12" Under each scale of the cone lie two tiny seeds. In September and October the cones ripen and open to shed them. The straw-colored wood of Western white pine weighs 26 pounds per cubic foot air-dry, and in strength and hardness compares with Douglas fir. Straight grain and even texture means that it works easily. The choicest western white pine boards come from Idaho and carry the grade stamp IWP, for Idaho White Pine.


Continued on page 3:  Uses in woodworking

 

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