Over the past three decades, the mountain pine beetle has devastated millions of acres of trees across the Western United States and Canada. Left standing or fallen and decaying on the forest floor, beetle-killed trees represent an environmental threat. They make the perfect kindling for wildfires or contribute to higher greenhouse gases as they degrade and release their carbon back into the atmosphere.

But the silver lining of the pine beetle epidemic is the wide availability of uniquely colored lumber. A fungus carried by the beetle gradually turns the wood to different colors, most commonly resulting in a “blue stain.” From furniture to interior paneling and all kinds of woodworking projects, the distinctive appearance of lumber from beetle-killed trees provides a unique enhancement to any finished product.

Are you a landowner who wants to make use of your beetle-killed trees? Maybe you’re a bandsaw sawmill owner who wants to incorporate this attractive wood into your next project. Either way, you’ll want to check out these three tips for getting started with beetle-killed pine.

Carefully Select Your Logs

Landowners who want to use beetle-killed pine should salvage trees within two years. Waiting any longer risks sapwood decay as a result of pouch fungus. The blue stain typical of beetle-killed trees doesn’t pose any structural issues, but you want to prevent anything else that could make the timber unusable, especially pouch fungus.

Ideally, you’ll have an idea of how long it’s been since the beetle arrived on your acreage. However, if not, you can always harvest a snag and inspect it yourself. Punk can materialize in snags left standing for too long, so if you plan on using them, don’t delay. And with downed timber, always look for signs of rot or burrowing.

Consider Milling Them Yourself

Experienced sawyers will tell you there’s nothing quite like the feeling of working with cuts you made yourself on your sawmill bandsaw. A portable bandsaw mill is a fantastic investment for acreage owners. If you haven’t considered purchasing one, it’s worth researching and learning about the pros and cons.

When you mill your own lumber, you save considerable time and money you’d otherwise have to spend on trips to the lumber yard. Many acreage owners find that their new bandsaw mill pays for itself—especially the models that are available at a reasonable price point without skimping on important features.

Use Boards for the Appropriate Purpose

As you gain experience working with beetle-killed pine, you’ll learn that the character of the lumber can vary widely. Maybe the mountain pine beetle wasn’t the only factor that impacted a particular tree, or the snag you’d thought was dead for only 18 months was, in fact, infested much earlier.

This variability will result in boards of different quality coming off your portable bandsaw mill. You always want to use the right tool for each job, so if you have any questions about the strength of a particular board, make sure you use it for aesthetic purposes only. Experiment with different finishes and practice filling any holes or burrow tracks with epoxy as necessary, so you’re ready to deal with boards that present these issues.

About Woodland Mills

From the flagship HM126 portable bandsaw sawmill to stump grinders, wood chippers, sawmill parts, and trailers, sawyers worldwide turn to Woodland Mills for the best-valued forestry products in the industry. Since childhood friends Neil Bramley and Josh Malcolm co-founded Woodland Mills in 2009, the company has expanded to become a global leader by delivering value through design. Woodland Mills uses cost-effective manufacturing, direct-to-customer sales, and practical design to deliver the capability sawyers need at a price point that hobbyists can justify. But Woodland Mills is far more than the exceptional performance and durable construction of its products—it's the unparalleled customer service that continues to drive the worldwide growth of the Woodland Mills community.

Start milling beetle-killed pine with products from Woodland Mills at https://woodlandmills.com/

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