Beetle Kill Pine Dining Room Table and Bench

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Project by JStretch posted 11-11-2014 01:54 AM 1840 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi Everyone,

This is my first post to this forum. For this project, I relied on a lot of advice that was shared on this site, so I wanted to share with you all the results. My wife asked me to build a dining room table for her. She had no idea what she was signing me up for :)

The journey started when I found 2 14-foot slabs of gorgeous beetle kill pine. I saw them and immediately fell in love with them. $400 later and they were mine. Then I thought, “oh crap…what did I sign myself up for??” The wood was beautiful and obviously from a very special tree…it deserved to be turned into the best piece of furniture I could make.

Three and half months later, this is what emerged. I actually built the table top twice. The first time, I tried to use the slabs at their full width, joined on one side. I had book matched 2×6’s in the middle to add width. I joined the edges then glued and doweled all the pieces together. A week later and the whole piece was severely cupped. Too much to sand level, so I ended up ripping the whole thing into 2.6’s. I saved the 2 live edges, bought some more dimensional lumber, and the result is what you see in the pics. I only glued the pieces this time…no dowels. I felt like they introduced more tension into the whole system. The gluing worked great, I just had to contend with the differences in height. It took a ton of sanding, but I got the whole top level, and then smooth. I put an end cap on the end to 1) cover up the bottom edge of the table which was very uneven, and 2) keep all the ends nicely tied together.

The frame of the table was built from dimensional beetle kill pine, and the frame for the bench was made from the dimensional lumber I ripped from the first table top. It was a little curved, but as 2×4’s I could work with it. I came up with the ‘Lincoln log’ style of joining the apron ends so that no hardware was visible. I used 5×5s of beetle kill for the table legs, and 4×4’s for the bench legs. All beetle kill splits and I wanted to show that in the final piece. I filled all the big cracks (and some knots) with clear epoxy so they would be sealed, but also visible. That did make some of the 4×4s bulge a little after the epoxy dried, but running it through the table saw took care of that.

The tops were sanded down through the grits to 220. After toiling over how to finish them, I decided to go with Danish oil to seal them and bring out the grain pattern. I used Natural so minimize any color shift. The slight amber tone really worked like I hoped it would, and I was very happy with the results. I knew I had to protect the surface more, so I opted to put polyurethane over the top (after letting the Danish oil cure for 4-5 days). I tested Varathane oil and water-based poly’s, both in the Satin sheen since I did not want a high gloss finish. I liked the water-based look better, so I went with that. Everything got at least 3 coats, the tops of the table and bench got 6, with 220 grit sanding between each coat. The finish came out fantastic and with minimal brush strokes. I sanded with 500 wet/dry, but wanted to take it one more step, just to be sure no brush strokes were visible, so I put a coat of finishing paste on the tops with #0000 steel wool. I honestly could not be more pleased with the results, and neither could my wife. There is a very nice luster without high glare, and the wood grain just POPS!

I’m sure there are things I could have done better, and probably made some rookie mistakes (I’m in IT and this was just a summer project), but I am really happy with the end results. During this process I did a lot of research on beetle kill pine projects. Surprisingly, there aren’t a ton of them out there like this. I learned a lot along the way and left out a ton of the details. If anyone has questions, I’m happy to share my experience. Thanks for checking it out.

10 comments so far

View timbertailor's profile


1591 posts in 847 days

#1 posted 11-11-2014 03:58 AM

What a score on that beautiful pine and I am glad to see that it was given the attention it deserves.

Great job.

-- Brad, Texas,

View Ken90712's profile


16864 posts in 2612 days

#2 posted 11-11-2014 01:16 PM

What a great first post. Amazing table, love this wood and look fwd to working with it one day. Welcome to Lumberjocks.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View drewpy's profile


568 posts in 780 days

#3 posted 11-11-2014 02:35 PM

Welcome to Lumberjocks. This is a great piece to share in your first post. I am not familiar with beetle kill pine and enjoyed viewing this. Rustic beautiful look. Thanks for sharing all the details.

-- Drew in Ohio -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View jkn09's profile


49 posts in 737 days

#4 posted 11-11-2014 02:54 PM

Awesome! Great idea to rip the top boards down into 2×6’s and save the live edges.

View david38's profile


2394 posts in 1766 days

#5 posted 11-11-2014 03:07 PM

beautiful peice

View whitebeast88's profile


4086 posts in 1613 days

#6 posted 11-11-2014 08:44 PM

beautiful table and bench.nice work,i really like that beetle kill pine.

welcome to lumberjocks!!!

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View JStretch's profile


2 posts in 716 days

#7 posted 11-11-2014 09:13 PM

thanks for all the nice comments! I’m looking forward to sharing more projects.

View Jeffrey Alexander's profile

Jeffrey Alexander

90 posts in 2115 days

#8 posted 11-12-2014 12:14 AM

Nicely designed pieces! Love the wood!

-- "--Build Beauty to leave to those who appreciated it , not to ungrateful kids..."

View Rick's profile


8287 posts in 2456 days

#9 posted 11-12-2014 02:06 AM

Beautiful Work! Thank you also for your Extensive Description, Very Nicely done.

-- Hope Everyone Is Doing Well! .... Best Regards: Rick

View paxorion's profile


1100 posts in 1468 days

#10 posted 11-12-2014 08:14 PM

Awesome job!

-- paxorion

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