Spruce for Timberframing - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 4 Old 02-17-2016, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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Question Spruce for Timberframing

Hi, I’m new to the forum and have a couple questions.

I have 30-40 spruce trees lining my western PA driveway. According to our tree service guy they have been attacked by a “spruce needle bug”,. The trees are 12”-18” in diameter, and 50’ tall or so. Most trees have the first crotch at 12-20 feet. The branches are dead most of the way up the trees, except for the top about five feet or so, which still have needles.

I had a sawyer (circular saw mill) stop out to take a look and he said we’d get about 4,000 board feet, including the 30 or so smaller trees we have to take down. He thought the lumber would be fine, although he said if we wait till the trees are completely dead the lumber will be ruined very quickly.

So, we want to use this lumber, if it is good, for some out buildings, etc. But I’m not sure how to proceed. Should I use the stuff green? Or do I need to sticker and let sit for some time?

I have some experience with timber framing, building our front porch, but that was using beautiful, perfect, dried, (20-25% mc) Doug fir beams from Bear Creek Lumber.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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post #2 of 4 Old 02-17-2016, 01:45 PM
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If it were me I would find someone with a dry kiln. The wood not only needs to be dry to build with it needs to be free if insects. It takes the heat of a dry kiln to sterilize it. Keep in mind that spruce is pretty soft so I would be careful which components you used it timber framing. It's yellow pine that has the strength.
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post #3 of 4 Old 02-17-2016, 08:14 PM
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In your post you say you want to build out buildings. If this means barns or sheds I think you will be good to go with proper bracing on the framing Spruce is a weak wood but timber frame is large dimension lumber, so it should be stout.
If you plan your structure to be two story and heavy load bearing, I would narrow the spacing with the spruce to no more than 16" o.c. and use the next step of lumber. 2x 8 instead of 2x 6 for instance. You've got the lumber to make it right.
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post #4 of 4 Old 03-17-2016, 04:03 PM
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Spruce/Pine/Fir 2x4 framing at 16" o/c is Code here. Two storeys and you should use 2x6 for the lower. Milled green, inpect the wood for pitch pockets as they will bleed forever in warm weather inside walls. Lots of spruc branch knots are about the same. I hope that you can find a kiln to see 25% MC, the rest dries out in service. SPF isn't "weak" wood, the hardwoods are more likely to shatter internally if not dropped correctly.
The nice part is that you can use a big nail gun and save yourself bags of time and energy.
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