Friday, 8 March 2013

Nuts? Whose Nuts?..... Pine nuts.

Growing up as a kid on Mum & Dad's Cardinia farm, I fondly remember running around picking up pine cones from their two enormous Stone Pine trees, smacking them on the path to loosen the pine nuts and then cracking open the hard shell to get at the tasty pine nuts inside. Of course this would last for about 30 minutes until my attention ( & appetite ) was drawn to something more interesting.....

These two Stone Pines were and still are, landmarks on the flat swamp plains of Cardinia Shire. Dwarfing all other trees, their mushroom like canopies can be seen for miles. Stone Pine, Umbrella Tree, Pinus Pinea  , whatever you like to call it, is a very firm pine, once used as a ship building timber and obviously most noted for producing delicious ( & expensive ) pine nuts. It hand planes beautifully and saws and dovetails equally well. Nice stuff indeed. 

                    2 Poplars with a Pin Oak in the middle of a very large and long tri-axle trailer

Yesterday after picking up 2 massive Poplar logs and a Pin Oak from Woodend ( more on that in another post ), I travelled to the historic Pendleside property in the Yarra Ranges. On this magnificent property, on the outskirts of Woori Yallock, stands some of the most fantastic specimens of european trees in the district. Unfortunately some of these grand old trees have succumbed to the drought just passed and now our hottest summer in recorded history. 

Amongst those that have either fallen over or simply died where they stood, was every last specimen of Stone Pine on the property. Very sad indeed. But, the reality is that trees are living things and as 'they' say - The meaning of life is that it stops.

And when these Stone Pines stopped, Dad was called in to mill them for the owner of the property on a fifty fifty basis. The trees are milled free and payment is half of the milled timber. By the time I got over to Woori Yallock in the afternoon,  Pendleside's  milling was complete and Dad had begun to mill his portion. Amongst his 'lot' was this monster.

At 13 metres ( 42.5 feet for my U.S. friends ) long, 900mm+ ( 35.5inches ) at the butt and 850mm (33.5inches) at the crown, it was immense! Here you can just see Dad in the distance and Pendleside's farm manager Carl with his foot up on the crown end. It's a big twig! Apologies for the poor photo. iPhone with a scratched screen!

Between Dad, Carl and myself we milled half a dozen or so of the smaller Stone Pine logs you can see in the background until about 6pm when we were all well and truly exhausted. The big twig however was docked into 3. Today, Dad had a mate with a crane truck collect it and freight it down to the farm, where we can take our time milling it. 

                                       Logs like this don't grow on trees you know!

Here is a short butt section of one of the smaller logs I milled up just before we finished. Just on 600mm across at it's widest, about 1800mm long. Although not perfect, there are some nice sections for smaller chairs, such as fan backs, children's chairs and bar stools. I'm really looking forward to carving it as a seat stock. Having used it before, ( dovetailing it for boxes and drawers ) I'm figuring it should be somewhere between Eastern White Pine and Elm. That's my kind of pine.


  1. My first-born is truculent and would likely bite your head off, but my second-born is altogether more amenable... would you accept him in lieu?

  2. I fear if I was to take you up on the offer, he may 'pine' for home. I'm sure he'd 'pitch' in but perhaps the swap would not 'resin'-ate with him..... ok, perhaps the last one was a stretch.

  3. Have you been on the turps? I've just twigged on to you, but I'm afraid you're barking up the wrong tree; branching into puns really needles me and I will now deploy my cone of silence. However, I will endeavour to keep a log of this conversation unless I become… board.

  4. Out of your 'cell' old chap and lets get to the 'root' of the problem. 'Deadwood', I just don't need it. Take a 'leaf' from my book, 'stem' the issues, 'sap' up some courage and take 'heart' that it's not all bad. Better than a kick in the 'crotch', that's for sure!
    Too 'pithy?'.....