Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) grows in the Rocky Mountains, from Alaska to northern New Mexico,
in the Black Hills and on the Pacific
Coast. Poles of this tree were used by
Native Americans for structural supports for teepees and lodges; hence the
common name of lodgepole.
Lodgepole pine trees are not very
large. In the Rockies, they may reach
80 feet in height, but seldom exceed 14
inches in diameter. Oftentimes, lodgepole pine lumber and ponderosa pine
lumber are grouped together. They are
similar in processing and properties.
Both are moderately strong softwoods,
making them ideal for construction.
A special characteristic of this wood
is that the tangential surface (the wide
face of a flatsawn piece of lumber) has
a multitude of dimples. These show
up especially when the lighting is at a
low angle or when the wood is stained.
Ponderosa has very few dimples.
Historically, lodgepole pine has
been used for railroad ties, mine tim-
ber, log cabins, furniture and cabinets,
and a myriad of local uses. Today,
knotty pine paneling is an important
use, as well as cabinetry and millwork.
Local uses are important as well. ;
Strong and stable, this pine has many uses.
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by Gene Wengert
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Density. The density of lodgepole pine
is about 29 pounds per cubic foot at 10
percent MC, similar to ponderosa pine.
Drying. Drying is rapid, but the small
trees and presence of compression wood
mean that warp is often a possibility. Blue
stain can occur quickly, so storage of logs
and of sawn lumber before drying must
be very short during warm weather.
Gluing and Machining. Gluing is
fairly easy. Resin exudations will interfere
with gluing if drying is not done hot
enough. Machining is moderately good.
Avoid drying under 9 percent MC.
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for in-line moisture
Stability. Lodgepole pine requires a 5
percent MC change or greater for a 1
percent size change in the width of flatsawn lumber, and 8 percent MC change
in quartersawn stock.
Strength. The strength (MOR) of lodgepole is 9400 psi; the stiffness (MOE) is
1. 34 million psi; and the hardness is 480
pounds. It is stronger, stiffer and harder
than Eastern White Pine.
Color and Grain. The wood is
straight grained, has a medium to fine
texture and has pronounced dimples on
the split, tangential surface. Sapwood
of lodgepole pine is nearly white to a
pale yellow, while the heartwood is light
yellow to a yellowish brown. Lodgepole
pine has a pleasant resinous odor.
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