View Full Version : Douglas Fir Heartwood - B. Smalser?

12-14-2009, 06:14 PM
Though this question comes from a client on a timber frame order, it may be of interest to boat lovers as well. This U.S. client has specifically rejected a number of Douglas Fir timber samples saying the heartwood is "too pink", even some whitewashed samples. He claims to have a project half built with pieces of DF which have more of a "tan colored heartwood". I am a AA ticket lumber grader and all I can think of is that he is looking at Western Larch with its russet brown or tan colored heartwood. He insists that some douglas fir has no pink (I call it salmon flesh) colored heartwood, and he wants a whole truckload of it.
Perhaps Bob Smalser or someone else in the know can shed some light on this? Even the coastal fir I have seen has its characteristic "salmon flesh" colored heartwood. And even more specifically, what organic components decide the colour of heartwood?

PS I'm in the interior of British Columbia, Canada.

12-14-2009, 06:23 PM
Must be an architect, or worse yet, an interior designer. :rolleyes:

Bob Smalser
12-14-2009, 07:26 PM
Ask him where he got his original stock, Kevin.

Of course there can be color variances in the same harvest based on different soils and soil mineral pockets, but if it's a whole load my best guess is that his first load is the Mountain or Interior Douglas Fir variety but came from further east (and at higher elevations with more alkaline soils) and what you are offering is closer to the pinker Coastal Douglas Fir. The species grows as far inland as Calgary. While you're also harvesting Interior DF, I suspect much of your timberlands are in Columbia Basin lowlands with acid, glacial-till soils similar to ours.

Another factor is the tighter the ring count, the more yellow the heartwood color, but not to the same degree as the potential color difference based on varieties.

Either way, the good news is that even the finished interior surfaces will all eventually fade in UV to the same uniform silver-brown.




12-14-2009, 11:16 PM
Thanks Bob and yes Columbia Basin. I passed this on.
The Doug fir in your photos must be coastal as our annual rings number about 4 times that in trees that size. I think medium rate of growth is 4 RPI and you are barely more than half that! I don't know that the log in the top photo would be sawn to make a structural grade in these parts. Maybe the summerwood ratio is high enough? But we are just as pink in the heartwood.
Thanks again.

Bob Smalser
12-14-2009, 11:53 PM
.... I think medium rate of growth is 4 RPI and you are barely more than half that!....

Adding 70" of annual rain (instead of 15"-20") to the 10pm summer sun we share provides for a bit faster growth. ;)