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PINE, HEART

Pinus spp.

Pinus spp. of the family Pinaceae, the pine family. Generally Pinus palustris and sometimes Pinus taeda, but it's complicated ... see (1), (2), and (3) below

"heart pine" is a term that is thrown about somewhat sloppily, and has different meaning depending on who's talking and what they're selling. Specifically, it is used as follows:

(1) Old growth long leaf pine (aka Southern long leaf yellow pine and about 200 other names, but is usually Pinus palustris and sometimes Pinus taeda), which is a very slow growing pine and has more pitch than most pines, requiring a particularly hot kiln setting to set the pitch. Growing for as much as 300 to 500 years, the tree got to as much as 175 feet high and four to five feet DBH with a high ring count (sometimes as much as 30 to 35 per inch). It was the main type of pine found in the old growth forests from Virginia to Texas and is called "heart" because when it reaches maturity the tree is mostly heartwood which is not true of most other pines. It is an unusually strong pine and was used for the masts of sailing ships and was referred to as "The Kings Pine" when the US was a British colony. One report even said that old growth long leaf has a strength approximating red oak and wears like iron in flooring. Most early homes in the South of the USA used Heart Pine for flooring, furniture and cabinetry and it was also used extensively in larger construction because of its strength. It often has a rich amber color, as you can see in the pics below

(2) Any pine lumber that is all heartwood with no sapwood, or by some standards, up to 10% sapwood, but in any case it is not required to be old growth or even have a high ring count or be particuarly strong. By this defintion, lumber cut from the heartwood of any pine species is "heart pine" and trying to assign a species to it is pointless.

(3) "Antique" or "reclaimed" heart pine is lumber that has been salvaged from old buildings or in some cases, "sinker" lumber that has be salvaged from rivers but in either case it is (or SHOULD be if correctly advertised) the original old growth described in (1) above. Keep in mind, however, that despite what people in the flooring industry will tell you, calling pine "heart pine" only because it was dragged from a river or because it came from an old building is just a BS marketing ploy if is not really old growth long leaf pine.

In what I believe to be one of the flooring industry's MANY disgusting mis-statements about wood, it seems impossible for them to EVER list Carribean pine without the adjective "heart", so you will NEVER see "Carribean pine flooring", but always "Carribean heart pine flooring". It is possible that Carribean pine (Pinus caribaea) IS a type of pine that is mostly heartwood and thus "heart" pine under use (2) above, but if so, the fact that that would make the flooring industry's claim true would be purely coincidental since they have no regard for the truth. In fact, ANY flooring listed as "heart" pine is suspect because of the flooring industry's dishonesty. I have listed Carribean pine as a separate page on this site.

there are something just under 8 zillion kinds of pine and I have broken out only Asian pine, Carribean pine, heart pine, ponderosa pine, radiata pine, white pine, and yellow pine with their own pages on this site. All other pines are on the "pine, misc" page. To see an extensive list of the species in the genus Pinus, see:


A NOTE ABOUT PINES IN THE USA





my samples:


both sides of a sample plank of antique heart pine / Pinus spp. --- HUGE enlargements are present; as noted on the lable, this was salvaged from the Studebaker Building (somewhere) but having been salvaged from an old building does not automatically make something heart pine, so I cannot say for sure that this is in fact heart pine in a technically correct sense.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of antique heart pine / Pinus spp. --- HUGE enlargements are present; as noted on the lable, this was salvaged from the Studebaker Building (somewhere) but having been salvaged from an old building does not automatically make something heart pine, so I cannot say for sure that this is in fact heart pine in a technically correct sense.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of antique heart pine / Pinus spp. --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This was salvaged from the Studebaker Building (somewhere) but having been salvaged from an old building does not automatically make something heart pine, so I cannot say for sure that this is in fact heart pine in a technically correct sense.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


flat cut "heart pine" planks photographed at a lumber yard. As you can see, the "heart" is only about half the plank, so this is not only the "modern" defintion of "heart pine" is is at best a VERY sloppy interpretation of that term, apparently taking it to just mean "pine lumber that has some heartwood in it". It is probably Southern yellow pine that some marketing genius decided to call heart pine because he figured it sounds less common that just Southern yellow.


end grain of some different flat cut "heart pine" planks at the same lumber yard


both sides of a piece contributed by Kevin Harralson, whom I thank. This is from a beam that was salvaged from a building that was constructed in 1876. It has about 22 rings per inch which is consistent with old-growth pine, and it weights 41 lbs/cuft. It has some light blue stain. Even though I didn't do an end grain update, you can easily see the plethora of resin canals in the end grain closeup.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


flooring pieces (I cut-off the tongue and groove edges) that are unsurfaced on one side. One of them had a large old-style nail in, which I cut out, thus the two sections. I didn't sand the under side of one part of that to show what they all looked like underneath, but even the one that I did sand down still shows some patina. Had I gone another 1/16th inch with the sanding it would be as light as the other surfaces. These, like the beam piece above, were contributed by Kevin Harralson and are from the same old building, but these only weighed 34 lbs/cuft.


end grain and end grain closeup of one of the flooring pieces. This piece is not one of those shown in the group above. It is not the only one that had some worm damage along one edge.


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above. Check out the plethora of resin canals in the end grian update enlargements. This piece has about 30 rings/inch


both sides of a sample plank of old growth long leaf heart pine. HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was contributed to the site by Tom King, whom I thank. Tom tells me this is from a beam that was originally milled in 1830 in Louisiana, and then re-milled from that beam just a few years ago. This piece has no more than 20 rings/inch but even so, given when it was originally milled, I assume it is old growth.


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above. Check out the plethora of resin canals in the end grain update enlargements. When I got this piece, I though it was Doug fir but the resin canals quickly showed me how wrong I was about that.


FATWOOD

There was a discussion about "fatwood" on the WoodBarter forum and as I had not heard the term before, several of the guys pitched in to help cure my ignorance (well, in this case, anyway. I've still got plenty left). Fatwood is a term for any pine that is so saturated with resin that it burns like crazy. Splinters of the stuff are used as kindling because it burns like a candle.

Although fatwood CAN be any pine (that is saturated with resin), it is often from heart pine, and there are also a whole group of at least 8 different pine species that have the common name "resin pine" and that can qualify as fatwood. None of the woods that CAN be fatwood, necessarily ARE fatwood; it's a matter of the resin content.

Kevin Harralson generously contributed the following pieces of fatwood. I don't know that they are heart pine, but since (1) fatwood can be ANY pine, really, and (2) heart pine is one of the fairly common species that can be fatwood, I've put it here. Actually, I'm also just being lazy because Kevin also contributed some heart pine pieces and I figured I'd just put this fatwood here on the same page as those.

These pieces are so impregnated with resin that they felt sticky to the touch after I sanded them, and they clogged up the sanding belt something fierce, so I only sanded them with 60 grit and then 100 grit. These pieces were cut out from some larger pieces that had a lot of weathered rough ends and edges and looked like they were salvaged from Kevin's burn box. They prorated out to 67lbs/cuft, which for pine is just amazing.


the fatwood pieces and an end grain closeup. The largest of these is 6" long. HUGE enlargements are present.

end of "fatwood" discussion




web pics:


heart pine flat cut, quartersawn, end grain


heart pine plank and end grain pics submitted by James Taglienti, whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain of a plank listed as old growth longleaf pine


heart pine planks


planks listed as longleaf pine / Pinus palustris


planks listed as pitch pine / Pinus palustris --- note that the first one has wet and dry sections


antique heart pine planks


reclaimed heart pine planks


reclaimed (specifically, sinker) heart pine pieces shown in a composite pic to give an idea of color variation


reclaimed knotty heart pine plank


plank listed as reclaimed heart pine and with wet and dry sections


heart pine turning stock


heart pine door


heart pine hollow form


two views and a closeup of a beautifully turned and carved heart pine vase



misc flooring
in various combinations of
antique / reclaimed / rustic / etc



heart pine flooring with dry (upper) and wet (lower) sections


heart pine flooring


flooring listed as rustic heart pine


flooring listed as "naily" heart pine --- I'm guessing someone wanted an extra rustic look so used old ripped up flooring (or possibly paneling) that had obvious nail holes


flooring listed as heart pine / Pinus palustris


flooring, all listed as reclaimed heart pine


flooring listed as reclaimed rustic heart pine


flooring, all listed as antique heart pine, and with most having a finishing agent that turns the wood more yellow, and richer in color, than would be the case for raw wood.


flooring listed as antique rustic heart pine --- I note that it not only has knots (the usual meaning of "rustic", it also has nail holes and mineral stain; yep, that's rustic all right.


flooring, all listed as reclaimed antique heart pine


cabinet door made from antique heart pine