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Author Topic: Red pine vs white pine  (Read 1745 times)

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Offline skudak

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Red pine vs white pine
« on: January 22, 2019, 10:09:11 AM »
Good morning, 
I am planning on building my timber frame house over the next couple years, I picked up a LT-15 sawmill, a tractor, and my father has 30 acres of trees I am going to be using for the timbers. He is having a logger come and take anything I don't want soon, so I need to decide and go mark all the trees I'll be using in the next week or so. We are in central NH. 

We walked the property this past week and found there's a ton of red oak, and a good amount of white pine (the problem with the white pine is that a lot of it is 36"-50" or more in diameter which would be very difficult to move with my tractor on the rough terrain, and my mill would have a hard time with it as well). 
Then there is this one grove of tons of pin straight and clear red pine, with a perfect landing spot for me to setup and mill. I've done some searching and from what I gathered, red pine tends to twist and warp a lot.  I feel like since it is straight and clear for the first 50', it shouldn't be that bad, but I have nothing to base this off of. I've seen plenty of warped and twisted red pine trees which may be what most people see/experience.

So my question is should I be fine using the red pine or is it worth the extra effort of using the white pine? Maybe a middle ground of using white pine for the main post and beams, then red for joists and smaller spans.

Thank you!


this is not an actual photo but very similar to what ours look like




Online Don P

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2019, 07:10:18 PM »
It tends to throw a whorl of branches each year so suffers the same structural/ grading problem as white pine, that is, clusters of knots spaced up the timber. They seem to self prune better and have smaller knots. The timber has the same design strength values as white pine but I think it is easier to find higher grade material. That was from the NDS where the engineers go. In the USFPL wood handbook, it is actually slightly stronger, denser and can handle compression perp to grain better than white pine. It also shrinks more. I would have no reservations.
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Offline barbender

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2019, 12:46:32 AM »
I'd use the red pine without reservation as well. I don't doubt what Don says as far as the official design numbers, but my experience on the ground is that Red pine is way stronger than White. White pine is nice and stable, and nice to work with but it is really brittle. I'm a logger and you approach falling the two differently because of this. White pine will break right off on your hinge because of it's brittleness, where red pine you have to be careful you don't leave too much of a hinge- it won't break and it will end up splitting the tree in half.
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Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2019, 08:42:44 AM »
+3 on using the red pine.  FWIW, red pine is considered a "hard pine" while white pine is considered a "soft pine".  I think this has to do with characteristics that are being noticed by folks who fall timber like barbender.  Additionally, I think P. resinosa wood is more dense than that of P. strobus.

We built a very large deck in a very wet location using only locally-sawn red pine.  I have sprayed wood preservative on it twice now, and hope to do so again this coming warm season, but in the main, it has held up better than I'd hoped-going on 9 years duration.  You can't, of course, lay this material right on the ground.

tom

Offline Heartwood

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2019, 08:59:58 AM »
Our experience with western MA red pine has not been good; it tends to twist a lot and we would not prefer it over white pine if both were available. We had some beautifully clear red pine 12-foot 5x5s and half of them twisted 1/2" or more over their length. If you use it for small pieces you can minimize the effects, or use where twisting can be accommodated with scribing, planing later, etc.; joists might be a good place, rafters no. You could also mill a bunch of extras and cull them, then resaw the rejects later into something smaller after they settle down; that's what we did (do). If they're going to sit for awhile (a year or more), mill them 1" or so bigger and resaw them.
Strength is good, as Don says.
If you use the red pine, it would be useful to report back here with your conclusions; thanks in advance

Offline firefighter ontheside

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2019, 08:55:23 PM »
From someone living in a log home built of red pine, I would say red pine is the way to go.  With heavy timbers, I would think there is much less chance for twisting.  Granted mine are still in the shape of trees, they have not twisted and have behaved very well as they shrunk.  The house was built 18 years ago from green logs.


 
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Offline D L Bahler

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2019, 03:56:15 PM »
I would support the approach of pre-milling red pine and allowing it to season for a year, then culling the pieces that display excessive movement.
This is a very common practice in the Alps where they've build with softwoods for thousands of years. They will cull the timbers that want to move a lot and saw them into smaller timber or into boards.

I'm sure you'll be wanting some decking, so this shouldn't be a hug issue.

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2019, 05:15:18 PM »
Red pine makes great furniture, so I'd use it for sure.

Got a kitchen table of red pine, thick material, has behaved well. Made from local red pine. :)
Move'n on.

Offline skudak

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2019, 10:07:57 AM »
Our experience with western MA red pine has not been good; it tends to twist a lot and we would not prefer it over white pine if both were available. We had some beautifully clear red pine 12-foot 5x5s and half of them twisted 1/2" or more over their length. If you use it for small pieces you can minimize the effects, or use where twisting can be accommodated with scribing, planing later, etc.; joists might be a good place, rafters no. You could also mill a bunch of extras and cull them, then resaw the rejects later into something smaller after they settle down; that's what we did (do). If they're going to sit for awhile (a year or more), mill them 1" or so bigger and resaw them.
Strength is good, as Don says.
If you use the red pine, it would be useful to report back here with your conclusions; thanks in advance
Sorry for taking so long to respond. After talking to a couple other local timber framers and sawyers, they had the same experience as you with them twisting a lot. General consensus is they're not worth the work. I'm curious if New England has a different species of red pine than other places since there's such differing experiences with them. Or maybe our climate affects them differently.

I decided to just do the extra work up front and go with the red oak and white pine, I'll save the red pine for other projects. This is my first big timber framing project so I want it to go as smooth and easy as possible.

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2019, 01:04:44 PM »
I suspect plantation red pine skudak, not slow grown tight ringed natural red pine. A lot of it planted over the last 70 years or so. Fast grown managed young wood has different characteristics. Sometimes for the better and other times not, depending on tree species.
Move'n on.

Offline skudak

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2019, 12:50:59 PM »
I suspect plantation red pine skudak, not slow grown tight ringed natural red pine. A lot of it planted over the last 70 years or so. Fast grown managed young wood has different characteristics. Sometimes for the better and other times not, depending on tree species.
I would definitely agree with you on that. Red pines are not native to NH and were planted in big clusters. I found this article from UNH that provides a little insight:
The Stories Behind Red Pine Stands | UNH Extension

Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2019, 02:35:11 PM »
Plants Profile for Pinus resinosa (red pine)

USDA PLANTS database is not always 100% correct.  However, it is sins of omission, not inaccurate placement of a species where it was not originally found, that makes up these inaccuracies.  For example, they used to not show tamarack as present (or native, for that matter) in Shawano (pronounced 'shaw-no')County, WI.  I drive through several watersheds in that county on my way to land I own in the next county north.  And I can assure that tamarack is present in the former location, in great abundance!

But I gave the USDA folks the locations where this tree was present in that county, and they went on to revise the map.

It would appear that red pine is most definitely native to New Hampshire.  I'd be very surprised if it was not.  Red pine was planted "in big clusters" in many northern states.  That certainly does not mean the tree was not native to those states.

tom

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2019, 04:47:31 PM »
Do you find it has an affinity for red soils with clay?  It seems to up here, I mean the roads into the natural stands I've been to is red clay as clay can be. That map from the USDA basically just says it's present in those state and provincial boundaries. Basically, it is present here in tiny pin pricks on the map where those red clays are. It's very scarce and uncommon naturally here. Lots of old farm fields around here have plantations though. They are old pastures, wet, or difficult to work.
Move'n on.

Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2019, 09:53:25 AM »
If you don't mind reading another one of my editorials....red pine is an interesting case.  While red pine plantations abound in my area...so much so that some "conservationists" resent the very existence of the tree, so sure are they that plantations have no ecological value ( I strongly disagree!) that they are then blind to the fact that "wild", naturally-occurring red pines are now quite rare on the landscape.  In WI, we have a listing of every native plant species with its associated coefficient of conservatism.  This is a number between one and ten, ten being high, that gets at the rarity and value of any given species.  Red pine rates very high, even though there are all those plantation trees around.

When one goes up the gut of northern Wisconsin, one really starts to see some big old red pine relics.  Think the area around Three Lakes.  Big, big trees, with their gleaming reddish purple bark.  Wonderful site.  Of course, white pines and hemlocks are generally nearby.

Now about those dang plantations.  So many criticize conifer plantations, especially red pine plantations here in WI.  I heard right around 50 years ago that they were "biological deserts", devoid of anything that sustains life for any other organism.  I now see that that is bunk.  First of all....in my own plantation area, which does contain more species than just red pine, there are more songbirds than in my adjacent natural forest patch.  There are deer beds all over the place.  There are woodchuck burrows.  Deer, bear, porcupine, turkey, coyote and many more frequent the area.  We have ring-neck pheasants in and around our property!  That's almost unheard of anymore in most sections of WI.  Yet I hear the rooster cackling many times when I'm up there.  Further, pine plantations mature and then get thinned.  After the final thinning, these stands resemble old-growth stands to a degree.  Widely-spaced large trunks, high crowns, and lots of undergrowth in some cases.  The earliest machine-planted red pine plantations in the world are in Oconto County, WI, where my land is.  Very good growth is the norm.  And red maple, paper birch, white pine, and northern red oak are frequent inhabitants of the developing understory.

Swamp, in WI, red pine just follows sand.  Many of our soils are full of iron here and quite red in color,  But the reddest stuff around here is a red montmorillonite clay subsoil, and the red pines do not like that stuff especially well.  They prefer sand.

tom

Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2019, 11:32:16 AM »
I've been burned too many times by red pine. Not worth messing with, in my experience. We've got a bunch of it on the farm that my grandfather planted in the '40's. 
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Offline barbender

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2019, 12:24:21 PM »
Red Pine does best on sandy soils here. I've seen really old plantation stuff, that you can't tell isn't a natural stand. One site was planted in 1904 I think, first plantation in MN. I wonder if you guys out east don't have a bad strain or something, kind of like the Scotch line that was planted around here. That stuff usually makes Jack pine look nice and straight. Look at the Scotch pine in Europe they grow like arrows.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2019, 12:29:52 PM »
I know one particular stand growing top of glacial sand uphill of the Wapske flood plain. The road in there is red clay mud though and those red pine are no touch, or were. Down hill in the flood plain was red spruce growing like white pine, 32 m tall versus the typical 24 m you get in glacial till of sand and boulders. I was in there a few years ago and the fir was all dead, got old and died as they do, some scattered cedar. I think deer yard up here. I know near there, on the Odell, easy to count 50 on winter deer yards.



That's a diameter tape, ain't circumference. ;D

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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2019, 12:39:32 PM »
You bring up jack pine, plantation jack pine here is junk. Wild jack pine found up in the hills of the Christmas Mountains was like telephone poles. Was, because the 1995 Nov wind blew down thousands of acres up there, it was all salvaged, what they could get. Look on Google earth there and she's like Mount St Helen all regenerating now. But mostly fir because it didn't burn. Funny how nature can change the cover type to. :D
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Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2019, 08:33:34 AM »
I too wonder if there's a bad strain of red pine that ended up getting used in western MA.  Something isn't adding up in the comments section.  Red pine is just about the most reliable softwood species there is in the western Great Lakes region.  My 24' by 32' deck-entirely red pine and now ten years old, is not twisting one bit.  

There's something wrong with western MA red pine, that doesn't translate to the rest of the country.  Then too, red pine is not very diverse, genetically-speaking.  One red pine's genetics look pretty much like any other red pine's genetics.  Much less diverse, than say, white pine or especially, Norway spruce.

tom

Offline skudak

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Re: Red pine vs white pine
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2019, 09:00:52 AM »
I definitely agree Tom. Looking at the comments here and everyone's locations, paired with all the people I spoke with locally it seems that New England red pine is worse than red pine in other places in the country.


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