03 May Longleaf pine – this stuff doesn’t just grow on trees
Much of the custom furniture I build such as dining tables, beds, wardrobes, and desks are made from longleaf pine, a reclaimed wood.
Longleaf pine has not been harvested for almost a century. It is characterized by it’s high density, highly contrasting rings and reddish color. It is one of the southern yellow pines and is indigenous to the southeastern US. Most of the wood I use comes from the center of the tree – hence a heart pine.
The wood comes from old growth trees being up to 500 years old when cut down. They were harvested up into the 1920’s whereupon they became nearly extinct and are now considered an endangered species. Estimates are that there were once 90 million trees and that we’re now down to about three million, most of which are in preserves – tree museums.
The way you get longleaf now is by tearing down structures built by the 1920’s and extracting the wood. It’s an expensive process because the wood has to have all metal removed in order to mill it. A lot of the buildings go right to landfills because it’s cheaper.
Even though it may be hard and time consuming to use reclaimed wood, it is a great material to build all types of mid-century modern style furniture.