Construction and Usage of Spruce Lumber
Spruce trees are part of the genus Picea. They are evergreen conifers that are native to the Northern Hemisphere. In the lumber market, you will come across several members of this genus sold as Spruce. These are softwood trees that contain characteristic resin odor. Spruce lumber suitability depends on specific job requirements.
Its lightweight properties and even texture makes spruce wood suitable for light construction and framing work. Its strength makes it quite suitable for low-stress situations. For use in wet conditions and in situations where it comes in contact with soil, treated lumber is the ideal selection. It is quite capable of resisting rot and remains in top condition for a long time. For making round timber, red spruce is ideal. Similarly, Sitka or Silver Spruce have common use in construction of beams, joists, foundations, factories and cabins. The wood has a high durability, making it ideal for siding construction. Cutting of Norway Spruce is common for use as lumber in dimensional framing.
Applications of Spruce Lumber
- Shipping containers: Use of Spruce lumber is common in construction of pallets, grades and packing cases because it is inexpensive and lightweight. For production of different containers and casks, Sitka is the natural choice because it remains unchanged and free from any damage during shipping.
- Musical instruments: Use of Spruce as a partial or exclusive material in the construction of musical instruments. Both Red and Sitka Spruce contain resonant properties, so they are ideal for guitar and piano sounding boards. Red Spruce is commonly used for production of violin bills, violin, drumsticks, piano keys and xylophones. For this, the makers might also use Black Spruce, but it is smaller in comparison.
- Airplanes: Sitka Spruce is important for the construction of airplanes and gliders. Relative to its overall weight, this softwood has high resistance to stiffness, bending and splitting. Because of this favorable strength/weight ratio, it has utility in the construction of longerons and spars in aircrafts. Other names for this are the Western Spruce, Coast Spruce Yellow/Silver spruce or Sitka Spur.
- Boats: It is interesting to note that Spruce has low resistance towards rotting. Despite this, several pieces of the tree have traditionally been used in boat construction. However, it is necessary to apply a treatment in this case, specifically, coating it with some waterproofing material as pitch. Spruce material is easy to cut and allows for the easy shaping of lightweight boats. Use of Spruce lumber is common for construction of racing sculls; Red Spruce is for general shipbuilding and canoe construction.
- Tools: The low cost and lightweight feature of the wood makes this ideal for toolmaking, especially where significant strength is not required. Spruce is commonly used for making objects like boat oars, ladders and some tool handles.
Difference between Spruce and Pine Lumber
The basic difference between the two is that Spruce is straighter, with less likelihood of twisting and warping. The color of Spruce is white, and it is even and is more consistent than Pine while also possessing a better weight ratio and strength. Compared to Pine, it also has low decay resistance and is ideal for trimming and molding. It also possesses tonal qualities that allow it to lend itself well to musical instrument-making. Pine lumber is cheaper, darker and is more readily available. It also has a rustic appearance, as well as less strength and exclusivity in comparison to Spruce. Decay resistance of the material is slight.
As far as practical applications, Spruce Lumber and Pine Lumber remain interchangeable for structural applications such as for the construction of shelf support, braces, struts, beans and studs. As far as aesthetic appeal, Pine’s visual characteristics stand out in open beams, trims or cabinet making. For fencing, Spruce boards will have less twisting or warping.