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Knotty pine turns heads with rustic looks

Despite its low cost and rustic charm, white pine is often stereotyped as the cheap underdog in the woodworking industry. But some vendors report that’s no longer the case.

“There’s knotty pine and clear pine and the clear is quite expensive,” reports Bob Laurie of L.L. Johnson Lumber in Charlotte, Mich. “If you’re trying to get a clear pine, it can be more than some of the hardwoods like Select & Better oak, so people are kind of surprised when they want to buy a C Select & Better pine,” says Laurie, who points out there is far less clear material on a pine log than knotty.

“When people want knotty pine, they usually want to purposely incorporate knots and they need the knots to be tight and sound. It’s in demand and it’s under a dollar a foot. People have been making things out of knotty pine since they first stepped on the shores here.”

Laurie sells knotty pine at $.90/bf and a clear grade at $2.75/bf.

Knotty isn’t the only rustic pine variation attracting consumers these days. Ezra Drissman of Oakwood Veneer Co. in Troy, Mich., has seen an increased interest in the specialized beetle-kill veneer pine, which features an attractive blue tinge related to the infestation by the mountain pine beetle.

“It’s a reclaimed wood that comes out of Colorado. The beetles go in and eat up the tree and it turns out with weird coloring — sometimes crazy shades of blue, which is awesome. We’re making veneer out of it,” Drissman says.

“People love rustic. Interest is up on any kind of rustic and we’re seeing a lot of them go through the roof. They want something different and rustic is super-hot in different colors.”

“The knotty is more popular than the clear,” adds Doug Grove of Groff & Groff Lumber in Quaryville, Pa. “We sell a lot of knotty white pine for shiplap siding and it’s also real big for farmhouse tables. I think people are definitely going towards more rustic looks.”

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