‘When Beetles Attack’ Vol. I
Our shop is thick with the sweet odor of Eastern white pine this week as I’m milling about 70 board feet of the stuff for the next issue of Woodworking Magazine. The smell (Megan Fitzpatrick would say “redolence”) is worlds better than the funky fish and burned popcorn smell that wafts daily from our cafeteria.
But with that great smell comes great mystery.
In the first batch of Eastern white pine we brought into the shop, the sapwood was streaked throughout almost the entire load. The streaks are gray-blue and end abruptly at the pine’s darker heartwood.
The streaks brought on a little debate in the shop. Some of us think the streaks are mineral deposits that the trees got into. I suspect a fungus among us. After doing some poking around the U.S. Forest Service web site, I suspect we have some trees that were attacked by fungus. The Forest Service says the fungus attack could have come after a beetle infestation. Check it out here.
The staining doesn’t appear to have compromised the strength of the wood, so I’m going to use the stained pieces on the inside of the 18th-century dry sink I’m building this week.
But the stain marks did make more work for Senior Editor Glen D. Huey. He’s the one who scored the pine for us. To get us some clear wood for the exterior of the piece, he ended up having to go back to his (super secret) source and climb over another seven stacks of wood to find what we needed. As a bonus, he found a couple boards that were 16″ wide in the rough. He’s a good guy to have around.
– Christopher Schwarz