Digger Pine: Is it Useful?

Well ... maybe for firewood (outdoors). July 3, 2008

I will be having two large Digger Pines removed this spring (Northern CA.). The straight trunk portion is about 36" diameter x 36' - 40'. Is it worth making timbers\boards out of it? I have room on the property to stack, sticker, cover and store. I have a local friend with a bandsaw mill and will be asking him also. Just thought I would see what anyone else thought.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor J:
Brings back memories when in the 70's I was given a 4 foot bhd digger pine. I had my buddies dad cut it since he was the only guy that I knew had a chainsaw that big to cut it down (plus being a faller helped).

I had 24 hours to get the tree removed and out of the property (contractor had equipment coming to start grading). Two guys, two chainsaws, one splitter = 5 cords of firewood. That stuff was so messy. There was pitch everywhere, and it was hard to split. It was stringy and really a lot of work for the free tree. But $125/cord - not really a great deal.

As for milling, I guess it depends on how desperate you are for timbers? Some of the knots will be really big I would assume? I would think the stuff would probably twist with all the kinks and bends in a digger pine. What is the collective experiences with digger pine?

From the original questioner:
Im in Placerville, just down highway 49. I have heard some guys that have used digger for barn siding and other outside structures of the ranch\farm type. I will burn digger in the outside pit only. I don't want to clean the wood stove and pipe that much. The guy may take the wood for himself if I can't see the value of boards. My intention is it may be good to reside some of a hay barn I have that needs some repair.

From the original questioner:

I talked to my friend with the bandsaw mill and he said he would be glad to mill it up for me. I may or may not get wood that when dry would be good for much. No telling how much twisting would come about. There hasn't been a market created for such a tree, so no one ever really looked into using them. Therefore they are considered scrap trees. I'm still looking for others to chime in with opinions. I plan on having them gone. I may have another friend come over with his Alaskan mill and cut some parts for benches.

From contributor J:
I f you cut siding out of the tree sticker it closely, and stack a ton (literally) of weight on it. I would strap it down with those 20,000 trucker load straps ratcheting plus the weight. Who knows you might end up with siding or really easily split kindling.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
The problem with making siding is that , even if you dried it under restraint and held it flat, when it gets wet from rain and then dries again, it will warp (if that is the tendency for the wood in the first place). Digger pine does indeed have a reputation for warp.

From contributor B:
Has anyone used digger pine for fence posts? Some of the old timers used what they call pitch pine. The posts are still solid 60 years later. Most of it is ponderosa that died and for some reason it is full of pitch.

From contributor S:
What you can successfully do is to cut it into landscape planks or timbers and haul it down to Thunderbird in Riverbank, CA. for pressure treating as grey pine (not politicaly correct to call it "digger" anymore) takes the treatment really well. Other than that you have great raw material for a co-gen plant.