The first step in the manufacture of turpentine and rosin is collecting the gum from the trees.
The early, wasteful method was to cut a deep notch in the base of the tree, known as the box. This box held the turpentine that flowed down the tree trunk from a narrow,
shallow wound made by chipping. Once a week a chip was cut through the bark above the box, each chip being cut directly above the other.
These caused the tree to bleed or give off sap; all during the summer the trees were chipped regularly, the sap flowing down into the box, where it was collected.
This method of boxing the tree has always been unsatisfactory, since it is wasteful of wood that might later be made into lumber;
the box, if cut deep, weakens the tree so that it is easily destroyed by high winds. During later years this box has been replaced by small cups hung over the base of the tree.
Into the cups lead small tin drains through which the sap runs. Except for the cost of cups and drains, this method is in every way better.
Whatever method is used, the sap is collected from the boxes or cups and taken to stills, where it is made into turpentine and rosin.
The tapping season lasts for about seven months. In America, collecting rosin from pine trees to make tar and pitch began as far back as 1600.
Today three-fourths of the world's naval stores are produced in our Southern States, and they find their way into every important market of the globe.
The rosin is used for gum, varnish, soap, and the manufacture of sealing wax. Turpentine finds its uses in paints, varnishes, coloring,
and in the manufacture of a large number of medicines. As in lumbering, the manufacturing of naval stores can be very wasteful.
Fortunately, however, manufacturers are giving up the old box method and are learning to make smaller chips in the tree.
Usually, trees are cupped for three or four years, then cut for lumber.
With the use of better methods, a tree may be cupped much longer and still produce valuable wood for boards.