What’s Spruce Lumber?

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Spruce lumber is a strong and light wood obtained from over 30 types of Picea trees. It’s refined into uniform boards using saws and shapers, and can be treated for durability. Spruce is ideal for light, load-bearing situations, such as in wooden airplanes and boat building. It’s also used for furniture, musical instruments, and home construction.

Spruce lumber is obtained from one of more than 30 varieties of trees of the genus Picea. A strong and relatively light wood, spruce lumber has many uses in a variety of industries. It’s perfectly possible to have a full-sized box, piano, and boat all made from spruce.
Spruce lumber is produced by refining raw spruce logs into more uniform and usable forms. Generally, spruce logs arrive at a lumber mill or mill soon after they are felled and still retain their original shape. Most commercial lumber is refined by machine, using a variety of high-powered saws and shapers to create uniform boards. Panels can be treated with chemicals to make them more durable or fire resistant. The spruce is either sold from the mill or shipped to lumber suppliers for sale to the public.

Most spruce lumber is light in color, with a fine, uniform grain to the wood. While there are many different types of spruce, many varieties will look nearly identical when milled into lumber. Spruce is known to have a very high strength to weight ratio, making it ideal for situations where the timber required is light and load-bearing.

One of the more interesting uses of spruce lumber is in the construction of wooden airplanes. Sitka spruce is especially known for aerial use, due to its fine grain, light weight, and wide availability. Some sawmills set aside high-quality spruce wood specifically for aircraft use, as only a small amount of the lumber will have the strength to withstand the forces and pressures of aircraft. Ironically, one of the most famous wooden airplanes in history, Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose” relied heavily on birch wood, with only a few spruce parts.

Sitka spruce is also a frequent part of boat building, particularly when keeping weight down is the primary concern. It is important to note that very few varieties are suitable for outdoor use, as many types of spruce do not withstand the elements well and are prone to decay relatively quickly. Sitka spruce is used to build masts and spars, due to the mast’s durability and natural height.

For furniture, chests, barrels and musical instruments, spruce lumber could be ideal. Common types of spruce used for interior design include Eastern spruce, spruce, black fir, and Engelmann fir. These types of lumber are also often used in home construction as interior beams, but are generally not placed in areas that would directly expose them to the elements.

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