The Secret of Antique Heart Pine
“What is the secret to the incredible beauty and durability of Goodwin River Recovered® antique wood?”
This is the #1 question asked when someone first examines the quality and discovers the unique, rich and vibrant hues of antique heart pine.
The answer? It’s history. The logs used to manufacture River Recovered antique wood were once the largest and oldest Longleaf pine trees. Although some of these 1800’s treasures found their way to the river bottom by storms, the densest logs fell off the river rafts used to transport them – lost, it would seem, forever, into the dark tannic waterways.
Over-logged and slow growing, the great Longleaf pine forests of the US have never returned. And Longleaf pine has not been available commercially since 1924. But the River Recovered antique wood manufacturing process offers new life to these magnificent antique logs. The divers who recover these logs look for special signs on the wood, to distinguish the valuable trees, such as ax cuts, flat cut ends, end feel and “cat faces”.
An ax cut end indicates the tree was likely cut sometime prior to the mid-1880s, before the steam engine came into use in the South. Flat cut ends show that the tree was logged by two-man crosscut saws, used after the mid 1880s. This allowed them to cut trees much faster for rail transport.
Prior to the steam engine, logs were floated downriver to the sawmill on rafts. The densest and highest quality logs were the ones most likely to slip off log transport rafts and sink to the bottom. The end feel of the log gives a good indication of the denseness of the growth rings.
“Cat faces”, or whisker-like scars, appear on many of the antique river pine logs we recover. Thanks to The Longleaf pine, the USA was once the world leader in Naval supplies; tar, pitch and turpentine, until the mid 20th century. The bark was scraped with a ‘bark hack’ to cause the tree to bleed oleoresin which was used to make turpentine. The injury to the tree caused it to produce denser growth and additional resin creating both harder and very beautiful wood.
Quality standards for Longleaf pine (antique heart pine) were last published in 1924. The minimum standard requirement was at least 6 growth rings per inch. Goodwin’s River Recovered® antique heart pine standard requires at least 8 growth rings per inch. The heart wood is what makes the antique heart pine so hard and durable. Goodwin’s River Recovered Antique Heart Pine is guaranteed to be 100% heart content. According to research published in the book, Longleaf Pine, WG Wahlenberg, 1946 by the USDA Forest Service, even a 200 year-old Longleaf pine tree is only two-thirds heart wood.
You, too, can own a Goodwin floor – the richest, most beautiful antique wood flooring, in limited supply. Give us a call today to find out how we can make your dream floor a reality.