Most of us will have at least one item of pine furniture in our homes or our office at work – so prolific, inexpensive and attractive is this type of wood. Tables, beds, wardrobes, storage trunks, bookcases, chairs – many items of furniture (as well as window panes and floors) can be made from pine (also known as ‘softwood’ or ‘evergreen’ because it doesn’t shed its leaves in winter). Wood in general, in fact, is around 50 per cent water with a cell structure similar to honeycomb. Pine has large cells which contain more water. It’s also an extremely quick-growing wood compared to its contemporaries such as teak.
Because of its light appearance in its natural state, pine is a wood which blends in well with other items of furniture and various colour schemes. However it does scratch easily. For some though – certainly those who favour their pine furniture with a ‘weathered look’ – this can be regarded as a plus point. So too is the wood’s idiosyncratic knots (although you don’t want too many of these as they can weaken a piece of wood) and prominent, darker grain against its light wood.
A scented wood, pine is also pretty versatile in that, to alter its appearance it can be stained, distressed, waxed and painted to fit in with any current décor scheme.
But what of its origins? Well, it’s difficult to attribute the wood to any one country as today it’s grown in more than seven distinct areas (both north and south of the Equator) although it’s probably best recognized in Scandinavia. It’s actually the most abundant tree world-wide, constantly being replanted and which makes pine furniture one of the most environmentally sustainable available. Craftsmen also prefer to work with a solid softwood such as pine rather than a hardwood as it’s easier to carve with.