Pines. - The pine is used more extensively for building purposes than any other kind of wood; it is the principal wood in common carpentry and also in heavy construction. It usually grows to a great height, with few branches and straight cylindrical stems, thus affording boards and timbers of considerable size and length. It also forms vast forests, which greatly facilitate cutting and shipping.
There are at least ten varieties of pine that are used for building purposes, but only the following are used to any great extent:
Soft Pines. - Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus), also called "soft pine." - Obtained principally from Maine, Canada and the
States bordering on the Great Lakes. This tree was formerly the most important timber tree of the Union, furnishing the best quality of soft pine. The supply has been so far exhausted that this wood is now only used for finishing purposes, except in a few States of the North and middle West.
The wood, when of a good quality, is creamy white in color, soft and straight grained, light in weight, and is very easily cut. It contains very little resin, and is durable only in dry air. In transverse strength it is the weakest of all woods used in building, with the exceptions of hemlock and redwood. It also swells or shrinks seriously when the hygrometric state of the atmosphere changes greatly; on the other hand it possesses the advantages of being very straight grained, free from knots, and very easily worked. Its most valuable characteristic, however, is its freedom from warping and cracking in seasoning. It probably stays in place (stands) better than any other wood, and is the best wood to use for solid doors, sash or light framing of any kind. It is also the best base for veneered work, and is remarkably well adapted to patternmaker's use. It is the best of all the Northern woods for outside finish, when protected by paint, and is the most desirable wood for all kinds of joiner's work that is to be painted. The best qualities are so expensive, however, that white-wood and other woods are now often used as a substitute.
Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana). - A very large tree forming extensive forests in Oregon and California. It much resembles the white pine and is used for the same purposes, although its standing and working qualities are not quite equal to the Eastern pine. This wood is also used locally for framing purposes.
Western White Pine. - Two varieties of white pine grow to a considerable extent in the Rocky Mountain region. They are used locally for framing timber and sheathing, but are unfit for finishing, as they are very knotty and warp badly. In Colorado this wood is designated as "native pine." That which comes from New Mexico is of a slightly better quality, and is sometimes used for ceiling and outside finishing, but is greatly inferior to either the Eastern or sugar pine.