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For those in the south-eastern US, the Loblolly pine is everywhere. It grows in huge, incredibly dense thickets of trees in any cleared field left for any length of time. They're everywhere. These thickets are not only plentiful, but within the thickets, the trees are growing as quickly as they can, straight as an arrow up and not bothering to put out many branches on the bottom part of the tree because they're generally only a few inches from their neighbor. (I did say they were thick!)

When I first started looking at making myself a walking staff I thought about these trees, but dismissed them. I wanted a hardwood. Last year I finally cut one down from a stand of them nearby, skinned it and stuck it in my attic. Well, I finally worked on it over the weekend and I have to say, I'm very impressed.

The stick I have is rather tall and thick, but is quite light-weight. The wood is the same as what is generically called "Southern Yellow Pine" in the lumber yard. It's stiff, light-weight and strong when dry. It sands to a nice finish and is fairly easily to carve, except the knots, which are full of hardened pitch.

Speaking of pitch, or the sap of the tree, the Loblolly pine is extremely full of sap. It used to be a major tree for the production of turpentine. When you skin it, expect to get quite sticky. I use gloves and very old clothes. I also use a cheap knife that I only use for this purpose. (and for red ceder which is equally sappy).

As the stick drys out, sap will seep out of the wood and form cool little beads of amber on the outside. A very thin coating of the amber will also fill in some of the pores of the wood, but is easy to take off with a sanding.

When the tree is young you can actually break it off from the ground with your hands, it's that brittle. But it definitely hardens up as it drys. It tends to form a tap root, which can bulb out a little just underground, but it's not a great one for perpendicular roots unless it's growing on a hill.

So, my experiment last year was a success. This fall, once the mosquito population reduces a bit, I'm going to harvest a few more sticks and leave them in the attic all winter and see how they do in the spring. I'll try different diameters and see where "too thin" comes.

So, for those of you living from Virginia (and parts even of Pennsylvania) down the coast and over into Texas, y'all have got yourselves a new, almost limitless, supply of raw material for sticks.

I'll put up pictures when I get a chance.
 

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The only pine I've ever used to make a stick is ponderosa pine from the rocky mountains! We don't have any loblolly here in Ohio, but we do have a lot of White Pine! I can't imagine using them for stick making, but maybe I will have to reconsider?
 
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