Weekend Project: Make an Eastern White Pine Bat House

Looking for a fun project to test your handy skills or keep the kids busy on a summer weekend? Here’s a great kit that will make the work easy and rewarding. Made of Eastern White Pine, the Wakefield Premium Bat House DIY Kit features an echo-location slot and space for up to twelve bats inside. Why host bats, you ask? While some people may find them the stuff of horror movies, these tiny flying mammals are great to have around your yard. A single bat can eat up to 1,200 mosquito-sized insects every hour, and usually ends up devouring 8,000 of them in just one evening!

“Wakefield premium bat houses are hand-crafted in the USA and made of only the finest, sustainably-grown Eastern White Pine Wood. Eastern White Pine is an ideal material for bat houses because it provides superior insulation during the summer and winter months while remaining light in weight and easy to hang. The Wakefield Bat House DIY Kit is easy to build and perfect for educational purposes. Bats are one of the most important ecological health contributors to the planet; many plants are dependent upon them for pollination.”

“And despite popular belief, bats are generally quite harmless to people; they do not attack humans and are far less prone to rabies than even household dogs or cats. The Wakefield Bat House features an extended landing pad and an interior covered with screening to provide bats with a maximum foothold. It is also specially designed to include an echolocation slot, making it easy for the bats to locate the cavity.”

“Your bat house should be located in a sunny location, 10 to 15 feet above the ground, and preferably on the side of a building where there isn’t any shade. It is common for bats to wait up to 18 months before occupying a new bat house. Fall or winter is a good time to put up a bat house in hopes of occupants the following Spring. Each Wakefield Bat House is built to last and includes a brochure that describes the species, placement and maintenance of the bat house.”

When you’re done putting this kit together, mount it on a pole, on the side of a building or on the trunk of a tree with little shade, and position it facing south to southeast, so it warms up during the day. Make sure you’re a quarter mile or less from a water source for healthy bats. This kit costs $45.99 at Monroe, where you’ll also find a great selection of other rEastern White Pine projects, like birdhouses and squirrel nesting boxes.

Design with White Pine: DIY Accent Wall

Got an itch to make some changes to your living space? An accent wall makes a dramatic impact, and it’s surprisingly easy to pull off, even if you choose to install some rustic wood planks instead of simply painting it a bright color. 

This weekend DIY project uses either 1×4 or 1×6 pine boards, which you can find at your local lumber retailer or home improvement store. To get just the right worn-in look, many people choose to distress the boards using methods like hammering, chiseling or wire brushing before staining and installing the boards.

At Family Handyman, a DIY project submitted by user P McDermott mixes up different stains for a lovely patchwork effect.

“Some boards received 1 coat, some received two coats, some were wiped off to make them lighter, others received one color followed by a different color. No two boards ended up the same due to variations in the wood grain.

I put 1/4″ underlayment on the drywall first using a few drywall screws through the studs, then glued and nailed the boards to the underlayment. The corner moldings were also homemade using a standard 2×4 ripped in half and using the table saw to cut out the “block” so that only the corners were left. I enjoyed designing the wall and [my wife] loved figuring out what colors to use, how long each board was going to be, and where to place them on the wall.”

Designer Kristin Eldridge took a similar approach, but with darker stains. In their case, doing some of the work and hiring a contractor to complete the rest was the right choice. They used “everything from kitchen utensils to an ax” to distress the wood and set up a workstation in the backyard for staining. 

“Here’s where the contractor comes in…he and Brent cut the boards into various sizes and then he nailed them to the wall with a nail gun.  He used some spacers so that some of the pieces would be lifted and create a less-than-perfect look, which is what we were going for. We also decided to have him wire some sconces on each side.  I went with this sconce from Lowe’s and left off the light shade for a more industrial look.  Later, we installed wire baskets to the wall for night stands.  I ended up changing out my pillows to these kilim ones and made the graphic black and white pillow for contrast.  Oh and the black and white photos are a mix of old photos and instagram photos attached with washi tape.”

Eastern White Pine Wood Plank Wall Eldridge Work station

Of course, there’s always the shiplap wall option, too. Popularized by Chip and Joanna Gaines’ popular HGTV show ‘Fixer Upper,’ shiplap produces a gorgeous rustic effect, and it’s easy to DIY. Check out our tips and tutorials.

Build This Easy Heirloom Quality DIY Pine Wood Table

If you’re relatively new at furniture making, the idea of creating something “heirloom quality” can be intimidating. While the kind of expertise that leads to sturdy, beautiful and long-lasting furniture comes with time and practice, there are some projects that make it easy to produce these results. 

From Eidolon House, a shop and book restoration service located in Texas, comes a lovely DIY pine wood table you can pull off without owning an entire suite of expensive woodworking tools. You’ll need a couple hand saws, a chisel, a drill gun with drill bits, a mallet, sandpaper and sanding block, brushes and rags for varnish. 

The table has a silhouette that would make an early Colonial furniture maker proud. It’s rustic and unfussy, but has a simple elegance to it that works with many interior design styles. What’s great about the use of Eastern White Pine here is the fact that it’ll only get more beautiful with time; weathering, softened edges and small dents will give it character and a sense of history that most new furniture just doesn’t have in its short lifetime. 

Plus, using mostly hand tools for this project will give you an intimate sense of what it’s like to work with Eastern White Pine, and boost your skills for your next DIY. 

“We built this pretty table in 48 hours, literally.  We gave ourselves only a couple of days to make this table and we did it!  It’s a simple plan, and really anyone can build it with minimal woodworking skills, so we thought we’d share with you guys how we built it! The sketch above is a simple layout of how the table goes together and the pieces of wood you’ll need.  (The finished table measures 2.5’Wx30″Hx8’L.)”

Get the step-by-step tutorial and lots more photos at Eidolon House.

PineSkins: A Textural Textile Made Out of Pine Tree Bark

Pine Skins pine tree bark textile

While many forestry operations reclaim waste like bark to transform it into mulch or biomass for energy, sometimes, it goes to waste. A new concept called “PineSkins” by Studio Sarmite finds a novel new use for it: transforming it into a leather-like material that’s surprisingly supple, and usable for all sorts of projects.


“The pine bark differs from traditionally used tree barks; it cannot be harvested from a living tree. A pine tree would die without its skin. Therefore the bark is harvested in collaboration with a tree cutter. Harvesting takes place right after the tree cutter cuts the tree for his business. This leather-like material surprises with its softness in contrast to the thick and harsh character associated with pine trees. Fresh bark is treated with natural ingredients that preserve its softness.  Afterwards it can be coated with an enriching layer of finishing and colour pigments.”

“It is important for me as a designer to let the material take the shape it wants to take. We often bend and transform materials into shapes we envision. However, for me that magic happens when the material determines what it wants to become. As a result I design every day products that respect the character of the bark and in its shape reminds us on trees with its irregular shapes.”

It really does look like leather, and it’s interesting to think about what kinds of applications it could have in various industries. Designer Sarmite Polakova, who believes that each material, new or old, “has a story to tell,” pictures it woven into baskets or cut into rugs. You could also imagine it in use as wallpaper, place mats, notebook covers, handbags and other items.

Pineskins baskets

She doesn’t say exactly how it’s created, other than those “natural ingredients” that keep it pliable long after it’s stripped from the tree, but her project isn’t the first to use bark this way. The Ugandan traditional craft of barkcloth making is one example, while “tapa cloth” is a bark cloth made in the islands of the Pacific Ocean from species like the paper mulberry tree. Both are often used for clothing.

Sarmite’s “PineSkins” are a cool way to utilize excess materials generally thought of as un-marketable. Check out two more examples – pine needles transformed into renewable plastic, and wood floors made of waste pulp.

Former Barn Raiser Makes Miniature Barns out of Eastern White Pine

Eastern White Pine miniature barn

For decades, John Ebersole built big, sturdy barns in the Amish tradition throughout central Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. You might think that at 81, his barn-raising days would be behind him, but they’re not. They’ve just taken on a different form.

Now, instead of working with full-scale Eastern White Pine lumber, Ebersole has simply shrunken the proportions of his work. He still uses the same kinds of wood and joinery to craft miniature barns, showing off the beauty of the naked framework. They may be much smaller, but these barns are created piece-by-piece in a very similar way to the real thing.

Miniature barn detail

In a feature at Lancaster Online, Ebersole says he lays out all the posts, mark where the holes need to be, drills and then starts assembling. In some cases, where very thin pieces of wood are required for the joints, he uses toothpicks cut in half. Matchsticks stand in for rungs on ladders.

“When I first started building, my uncle, he was a retired carpenter … he taught me a lot of things,” Ebersole says, “and I appreciated that. He said, ‘Now, you keep a diary of all this work,’ and I did not do that. Now, sometimes, I wish I did.”

The construction process doesn’t completely change when building a model, Ebersole says. “If you’re off by a sixteenth of an inch up or down” when building a model, he says, “that really shows in a small scale like this.”

miniature pine barn ladder

Check out the rest of the piece, including lots more photos, at Lancaster Online.

Photos by Suzette Wenger

Timber Frame in Miniature: Eastern White Pine Sculptures by Ted Lott

ted lott chairs

Artist, designer and craftsman Ted Lott creates beautiful miniature timber frame structures with Eastern White Pine, using found vintage furniture and other objects as unexpected structural bases.

In a 2012 – 2016 series called “Habitation,” Lott built elaborate miniature timber frame houses around antiques like stools, piano benches and rocking chairs, leaving the frames open so viewers can peer inside and take in all of the details. More recently, his sculptures made of Eastern White Pine have taken on cylindrical shapes to function as lamp shades; some spring up between the halves of old suitcases.

habitation 11 habitation 11 2

A graduate of the Maine College of Art with a BFA in Woodworking and Furniture Design and recipient of an MFA from the University of Wisconsin Madison, Lott draws inspiration from the traditional skills and techniques that are at risk of being lost to industrial methods of construction and fabrication. His work revolves around “the history of wood in material culture and architecture,” he explains in his artist statement.

ted lott habitation 2 habitation 10

Along with clothing, food and water, shelter is one of the basic requirements for the sustenance of human life. During most of our history shelters were made of local materials; timber, stone, hide, grass and mud provided protection from the elements. However, with the coming of the industrial revolution, locally sourced materials gave way to industrially produced ones, 2×4’s and nails replaced timbers and elaborate joinery.”

migration 16

Ted Lott Master of FIne Art Exhibition
Ted Lott Master of Fine Art Exhibition

“Today, in America and all over the world, balloon frame construction is a primary means by which shelter is created from wood. While connoisseurs of woodworking have long lauded the skill, precision, and exacting craftsmanship required to create a post and beam structure, the majority of our homes, commercial buildings and other structures are made using the balloon frame method.”