Author Topic: Help with spruce lumber identification?  (Read 4046 times)

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Offline Patches

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Help with spruce lumber identification?
« on: September 24, 2012, 10:26:34 am »
I am wanting to make my own spruce arrows.  I went to the local lumber yard, and found lumber marked "S-P-F" which means its either Spruce, Pine, or Fir. The fir lumber is actually marked as fir, but can anyone help me iwth how to identify a cut piece of spruce?  I have a dozen spruce arrow blanks that I bought at MOJAM, and they appear light colored and light weight.  Every piece of lumber that I found that looked like it at the store, the sales guy told me it was pine.  Can anyone please help me with how to identify cut, kiln dried spruce?  Thanks for the help in advance.
"You are never a complete failure as long as you can be used as a bad example..."

Offline Jim Davis

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Re: Help with spruce lumber identification?
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2012, 01:01:46 pm »
For starters, soft pine is almost never used for dimension lumber--2X4, 2X6 etc., accept in the south east, where it will nearly always be "yellow pine."

Dimension lumber is nearly always spruce in the northeastern U.S. and Douglas fir or Sitka spruce in the west. If it  comes from Canada, it is probably spruce. If Oregon, D. fir or spruce, though it  could be one of the true firs, such as noble fir or white fir.

Pine in any shape ususaly has wider growth rings and it is softer than spruce. Press a thumbnail into  pine and you will make a mark.

If you talk to a store manager, they would be ABLE to tell you where the shipment came from. Whether they would take the trouble  to look it up, is another thing altogether.

Jim Davis
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Kentucky--formerly Maine

Offline DarkSoul

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Re: Help with spruce lumber identification?
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2012, 02:23:57 pm »
The smell of conifers such as pine, yew, cedar, fir and spruce is a quick and dirty way to find out the genus of the wood. It's not waterproof, though. The only way to find out for sure, is to make microscopic slides and meticulously analyze the wood under the microscope. Softwoods are harder to ID than hardwoods.
Asharrow has given some good advice. Although itīs not fair to make statements about ring width, color and density of the wood, it can help you a bit.
"Sonuit contento nervus ab arcu."
Ovid, Metamorphoses VI-286

Offline Jim Davis

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Re: Help with spruce lumber identification?
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2012, 03:38:08 pm »
itīs not fair to make statements about ring width, color and density of the wood...

???

BTW, Jawge regularly makes shafts from eastern white  pine. Try a sample of what's available. Pick out a 2X6 that looks to have some good areas and give it a try. (2X4s are often cut from the center of a log and have lots of knots in them, since at that point in the tree's growth it had lots of lower branches.)
Jim Davis

Kentucky--formerly Maine

Offline aaron

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Re: Help with spruce lumber identification?
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2012, 06:29:32 pm »
i.d'ing lumber is hard without a microscope, as stated. I have some beautiful sitka spruce lumber which a friend milled. Perhaps we could do a trade? I am in WA state.
Ilwaco, Washington, USA
"Good wood makes great bows, but bad wood makes great bowyers"

Offline aaron

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Re: Help with spruce lumber identification?
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2012, 06:32:49 pm »
based on your location in the midwest, i doubt your lumberyard has sitka spruce- more likely pine, fir. Even in WA, OR sitka makes up only a fraction of timber cut- it only grows in a narrow zone right at the coast.
Ilwaco, Washington, USA
"Good wood makes great bows, but bad wood makes great bowyers"

Offline Tom Leemans

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Re: Help with spruce lumber identification?
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2012, 01:42:22 pm »
In the midwest, we generally get pine or fir. Doug fir looks a little reddish in color, is straighter and tighter grained and stays MUCH straighter. You'll be hard pressed to find good spruce in the dimensional lumber pile.

Offline Patches

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Re: Help with spruce lumber identification?
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2012, 03:11:11 pm »
Thanks for the help everyone.  I am going to  split up the  2x6s that I bought the other night and see what happens.  I have one mystery board and a Douglas fir.  Hopefully I can at least make a few decent arrows from the fir.   
"You are never a complete failure as long as you can be used as a bad example..."