Ponderosa pine lumber characteristics and uses

Common Names

Blackjack pine, pole pine, bird’s-eye pine, oregon pine, big pine, ponderosa pine, pine, knotty pine, lodgepole pine, pitch pine, western yellow pine, prickly pine

Ponderosa pineCommon Uses

Carvings, office furniture, cabinetmaking, desks, tables, turnery, radio, stereo, tv cabinets, screens, woodwork, moldings, exterior trim & siding, drawer sides, fine furniture, dining-room furniture, cabin construction, interior construction, kitchen cabinets, furniture components, stools, rafters, wardrobes, siding, joists, bedroom suites, porch columns, millwork, interior trim, living-room suites, posts, chairs, furniture squares or stock, chests concealed parts (furniture), paneling, hatracks, floor lamps, utility furniture, wainscotting, rustic furniture, dowells, dowel pins, partitions, furniture, decks

Species Distribution

REGIONS: North America

COUNTRIES: Canada, United States

Environmental Profile

Ponderosa pine is reported to be rather widespread, abundant, and secure globally, though it may be rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery (Source – The Nature Conservancy – Rank of relative endagerment based primarily on the number of occurrences of the species globally).


The most widely distributed of the pines in North America, Ponderosa pine is reported to grow from British Columbia to near the Mexican border. The species is found in Alberta, British Columbia, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. It is reported to grow mostly in the mountains, often in pure stands to form extensive forests, but may also be in mixed coniferous forests. Ponderosa pine is reported to grow from sea level in the northern parts of its range to an altitude of up 9000 feet (2745 m) in the south, with the best stand of trees occurring between 4000 and 8000 feet (1220 and 2440 m).

Product Sources

Some material from this species is reported to be available from environmentally responsible or sustainably managed sources.

Supplies of Ponderosa pine are reported to be substantial, with large inventories in both pure and mixed Ponderosa pine forests. The species is generally considered to be the most commercially important of the western pines.

Tree Data

The tree is reported to be rather large to very large. It grows to a height of 60 to 130 feet (18 to 39 m) and a diameter of 30 to 48 inches (80 to 120 cm).

Sapwood Color

The sapwood is whitish to pale yellow and is reported to be very thick in mature trees.

Heartwood Color

The heartwood is deep yellow to reddish brown, yellowish to light reddish, or orange brown.


Grain is reported to be typically straight and even, and the wood is occasionally figured with a bird’s-eye pattern and dimples on split tangential surfaces. It is also characterized by fine, dark lines of resin ducts and numerous knots that are generally sound.


Texture is described as medium, and slow growth is reported to produce wood with a uniform texture.

Natural Durability

Ponderosa pine is reported to have very little natural resistance to attack by decay fungi and other wood destroying organisms, and should not be used under high decay hazard conditions without proper protection.

Abnormal Wood Tissue

The wood often contains compression wood.

Blunting Effect

Blunting effect on cutting edges is reported to be rather small.

Cutting Resistance

The timber is reported to saw well, but resin exudation may gum up sawteeth.


Ponderosa pine is reported to take a variety of finishes well, but may require some surface preparation.


Planing properties are reported to be very good, but pitch build-up on tools could be a problem.


The material is reported to turn very well.


Moulding qualities are rated as very good.


Ponderosa pine is reported to respond very well to boring.


The wood is reported to have excellent mortising characteristics.


The material is reported to have excellent resistance to splitting in nailing. Nail holding properties are good.


Screwing properties are rated as excellent, and screw-holding qualities are good.


Gluing characteristics are rated as very good.


To prevent bleeding of finishes, especially around knots, pre-treatment of wood surfaces with a sealer before painting has been recommended.

Response to Hand Tools

The timber is reported to work easily with hand tools, with little blunting effect on cutting edges. The wood is typically knotty but most of the knots are sound. Resin exudation may interfere with some woodworking operations.

Strength Properties

Bending strength in the air-dried condition (about 12% moisture content) is medium. Crushing strength is also medium. Surfaces may dent or scratch easily since the wood is soft. Weight is about average.


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