#18: Ponderosa Pine

Bird number: 41
Date: February 3, 2012
Wood: Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)
Source: Southern Oklahoma

Debra took a trip to Oklahoma a few years ago to see family, and she came back with a trunk full of wood for me. Among all that were a few pieces of Ponderosa pine from a tree at her uncle’s place–the place where her dad grew up. At least, they say it’s Ponderosa pine, and it sure looks like it. But southern Oklahoma is a bit out of the normal range for this species.

I’ve always liked Ponderosa pine. I remember being fascinated by them when I was in Boy Scouts, camping in the mountains of Colorado. Debra and I had about a dozen of them on our property in northern Arizona. Today, the smell of the forest and the sound of the wind blowing through the Ponderosas always brings back fond memories.

Those black specks are the result of Blue stain fungus, which commonly attacks Ponderosa and a few other pine species.

A lot of carvers won’t touch most pines because it’s usually kind of messy to work with. It takes a long time to dry the sap in the wood, and if it’s not totally dry, the sap can make a mess. It’s very sticky. This wood was very dry, in large part because it’d been in the rafters of my garage for almost three years. There was some sap on the ends of the logs, but I didn’t notice any sap at all in the wood. The wood is soft and carves very easily. Not as soft as basswood, of course, but not a whole lot harder.

Unfinished, the wood is pretty bland. Putting the finish on it really brought out the grain and the specks caused by the fungus. I like the look.