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Thread: Douglas Fir Again

  1. #1
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    Default Douglas Fir Again

    I know there have been several threads on the subject of Douglas Fir quality - old growth vs. second growth, ring count, plantation grown vs. shade grown, etc., etc., etc. I've read them and I'm not trying to add yet another one but for my own knowledge here is a piece of 2 x 6 DF that I bought yesterday. It turns out that I'm not going to use it for the intended purpose (see my Petrel thread for the reason why) but I would very much like to know what people with experience think of the quality, if such can be determined from this photo:



    What's the consensus? Good? Ok? Wouldn't use it to build a chicken coop? Currently rotting away as I sit here? Just trying to further my woodworking education a bit.

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    This some kind of test?
    That looks like what my entire boat is planked of!
    Maybe the rickety grain bit, whats up with that?

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Nice piece of doug fir . Slow growth , it's heavy

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    This some kind of test?
    That looks like what my entire boat is planked of!
    Maybe the rickety grain bit, whats up with that?
    No test. It looked good to me but I have no experience selecting wood so I'm just trying to learn a bit about it here. Thanks for the answer! No idea about the grain - I noticed that too.
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Quote Originally Posted by Three Cedars View Post
    Nice piece of doug fir . Slow growth , it's heavy
    Yes. Very. I did notice a wide variation in weight/density of the wood I was picking from and tried to get the heaviest pieces.
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    In my personal experience with df, old growth is quite a bit lighter than second growth!

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Read a couple University tests on DF. The thing that seemed to make the strongest wood was density. Ring count, ring orientation not so much. Personally, a higher ring count seems to be better wood, but not quite sure why.
    the invisible man........

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    For the same reason marine ply with more laminations is better than big box junk with half as many.

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    In my personal experience with df, old growth is quite a bit lighter than second growth!
    Huh?!

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    It's a nice looking piece of fir, with dense balanced rings. Easy to think 'old growth', though we don't really know that.
    Ring orientation is about the dimensional stability of the board. But tight rings seem better than fat spring/summer growth for stability as well. No matter the rings there can be stresses and tensions in a board that are not revealed until you cut, mill, or otherwise put the board in a different environment.

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    I should say it is a nice end shot - which does not show us very well, grain run off for the length of the board.
    Last edited by Eric Hvalsoe; 02-13-2017 at 10:52 AM.

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Thanks everyone. I now know a bit more than I did yesterday. Eric, here's another shot of the board. Not sure if you can tell grain runout from it? But that's another area that I'm curious about so I can take another photo if not.



    And... I've heard of runout as a problem for bending. Is it an issue in other uses as well?
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Hvalsoe View Post
    It's a nice looking piece of fir, with dense balanced rings. Easy to think 'old growth', though we don't really know that.
    Ring orientation is about the dimensional stability of the board. But tight rings seem better than fat spring/summer growth for stability as well. No matter the rings there can be stresses and tensions in a board that are not revealed until you cut, mill, or otherwise put the board in a different environment.
    This. I'd only add that the squiggly grain pattern shown on the end may well turn out to be some interesting - perhaps even unusually beautiful - face grain. If so - I'd be thinking of using that stick in places that it can be shown off.
    David G
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    I would not hesitate, in fact I'd be delighted, to use that piece of lumber in any situation calling for doug fir. I would not "waste" it in a use where any old garden variety chunk of framing lumber would suffice.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    I dont see much runout there. Looks like vertical grain (quarter sawn) or pretty close. You'll see bad runout on a flat-sawn piece and DF is bad to check over time on the runout on a flat-sawn board.

    Bending? Probably can't get that kiln-dried DF to bend very much--even with steaming. But maybe someone with experience bending DF can chime in on that.
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Bending? Probably can't get that kiln-dried DF to bend very much--even with steaming. But maybe someone with experience bending DF can chime in on that.
    To be clear I wasn't thinking about bending DF. I was just asking as a point of information on the situations in which grain runout would be bad. Thanks!
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckt View Post
    I dont see much runout there. Looks like vertical grain (quarter sawn) or pretty close. You'll see bad runout on a flat-sawn piece and DF is bad to check over time on the runout on a flat-sawn board.

    Bending? Probably can't get that kiln-dried DF to bend very much--even with steaming. But maybe someone with experience bending DF can chime in on that.
    Just a minor correction. This stick is closer to flat-sawn than it is to vertical grain. More precisely - it would be called rift-sawn.

    In rough terms - vertical grain is grain that runs anywhere from 90 degees to the surface (pure vertical grain) to 45 degrees to the surface. Though some sticklers, like me, would say 30 degrees, with flat-grain being anything from 90 degrees to the edge up to 30 degrees, and anything in between those two extremes being called rift-sawn.
    David G
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Just a minor correction. This stick is closer to flat-sawn than it is to vertical grain. More precisely - it would be called rift-sawn.
    Thanks David. That's what I thought but good to have it confirmed. Any comments on rift-sawn vs. quarter-sawn in general? I assume quarter-sawn is more dimensionally stable but any concerns with using rift-sawn for specific applications (structural timbers vs. non-structural, etc.)?
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Quote Originally Posted by cstevens View Post
    Thanks David. That's what I thought but good to have it confirmed. Any comments on rift-sawn vs. quarter-sawn in general? I assume quarter-sawn is more dimensionally stable but any concerns with using rift-sawn for specific applications (structural timbers vs. non-structural, etc.)?
    Sure - it depends up on the application.

    Quarter-sawn has the advantage of - as you say - minimizing movement due to changes in ambient moisture. Plus - I think it's the prettiest. But aesthetics is a pretty personal thing.

    The disadvantage - in a species like douglas fir that splits easier than some - is that an impact can more readily split your stick. Or fasteners not pricisely pre-drilled (pilot, shank clearance, and/or counterbore/countersink) can split a plank. And it's usually premium-priced.

    Flat sawn is the opposite. Rift sawn is a compromise between the two.
    David G
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    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    And my wood education continues. Thanks David.
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    I should have looked at the grain in the first pic more closely. The second pic fooled me.

    Here is some DF flatsawn and with some serious runout. (And definitely not old growth)

    Last edited by chuckt; 02-13-2017 at 02:23 PM.
    Chuck Thompson

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Nice hunk of DF. The tighter the rings, the better. Cuts well, glues well, and it hardens as it ages. Love that tight grain pattern on the face.
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Definitely a prime piece of DF. That's the stuff you want for boatbuilding or fine cabinetwork. It's a crime, actually, that they didn't quarter saw that log. I'm guessing it got past the grader, or they just didn't give a damn. They get a load of logs in and they have to keep 'em moving through the mill. Once upon a time, all construction grade DF was that good or close to it. No longer, that's for sure!

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Like Bob said.. grain orientation is not quite there.. but here's what you can build with it if was quarter sawn:


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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    I was just going to use it for a dutchman in an engine support beam. Not doing that anymore since it turns out that I need to replace at least half the beam, if not the entire thing. So I don't have a good use for the lumber right now. But I'm sure one will come up sooner than later...
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    I have used a lot of Doug Fir on my Friday Island Ferry project. It is called for all framing and structural wood but I like the look of it so I used it for some finish work as well.
    Where I am building, Falmouth on Cape Cod Mass.I can get really good old growth VG fir at Wood Lumber in Falmouth, but it is not cheap. At Falmouth Lumber I found some #2 Douglas fir being sold as staging planks and long 2x 12 stock. If I can pick through a stack of that I can often find some good pieces. I take flitch grain and re-saw it to find the good stuff. I am looking for reasonably tight straight grain at 45-90 degrees from the face, clear if I can get it but a few tight small knots are ok for framing. This method is labor intensive but cheap, a 5th of the price of the old growth vertical grain stock although it is rare to find any #2 that can be used as finish stock.
    Again hard to source because the local yards often do not have much worth buying at any price.
    I was amazed to see some #2 dried Douglas fir at Home Depot in Wareham MA. They stock it as 2x8, 2x10 and 2x12 framing along with the more common spruce. Again, most of it is crap, but occasionally a piece gets by the graders, parts of which can be used well. Same deal, select carefully, and expect to use only half of what you buy. Recently ,however,I found enough straight grain clear stock to frame my 7'x11' Pilot house. Dirt cheap if you are not charging for one's labor.

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    I was amazed to see some #2 dried Douglas fir at Home Depot in Wareham MA.
    Might be possible to comb Home Depot out here for it as well, but then I would deprive myself of the chance to visit a real lumberyard...
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    The consensus on the Douglas Fir that I posted for comment at the start of this thread was that it's a pretty nice piece of wood. I still think it is and will happily use it somewhere on Petrel but for some perspective:



    The top board is the one I posted above. The bottom one is a piece of wood that I removed recently. It was serving an entirely plebian duty supporting a manual bilge pump that was no longer connected to anything. I don't know if it was original to the boat but given the age of the pump (an old bronze Wilcox Crittenden) it's probably at least fifty years old. And it has two or three times the ring count of the board I bought back in February.
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Quote Originally Posted by cstevens View Post
    I was just going to use it for a dutchman in an engine support beam. Not doing that anymore since it turns out that I need to replace at least half the beam, if not the entire thing. So I don't have a good use for the lumber right now. But I'm sure one will come up sooner than later...
    Would it fit here? Just kidding. It will fit nicely on Petrel at some point.

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Somehow I missed this thread.

    Just read thru the whole thing.

    Rift sawn, for sure, and the heavier it is the stronger and more durable it will be. Like Wiz, I have found that some of the really light colored very tight ringed old growth is considerably lighter than most. I think the heavier it is the more resin it contains. Resin is rot resistant. It also excludes moisture, which may be the biggest reason it's more resistant.

    Tight enough to be used for planking, but closer to 90 degrees would be better. Too much swelling in the width will cause buckling and stress the framing.

    A nice thing about that wrinkly grain is that it's less prone to splitting, often a lot less.

    I used to buy logs and saw out boat planking for a living. When I saw the photo in thread #1 I my first thought was that it was too brown. Fir logs that are brown at the butt, and especially if they have any purple showing, are "conked". That means they are beginning to rot. The logs themselves, when they were standing and hadn't been dragged by a skidder, would most likely would have had the odd mushroom growing out of the bark, called "standing dead", and would have not been suitable for exterior use.

    The lumber from those logs is still excellent for interior use though, even better than "live", because it will be more stable due to degradation, the cell walls have been weakened.

    This is not to say that your board is "conked", if it has been thru the kiln it may have turned brown in there in all of that heat. To be safe though, I would save it for somewhere where it won't be exposed to too much moisture.

    Also, kiln drying causes the extractives to evaporate, and it's these extractives, chemicals in the resin, that resist decay.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    An excellent book on wood is R. Bruce Hoadley's Understanding Wood.

    I don't want to come off as a shill, but I can't say enough good things about it. It is written for a broad wood working audience and is perfectly relevant to boatbuilding.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._Bruce_Hoadley

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Ron, I'm looking forward to seeing that hole repaired with a nice solid piece of quarter-sawn DF or cedar. Do you know what Wayne is planning to use? I think that my piece of DF will find a home as a repair for the rotten deck beam under the mast step.

    Gib, thanks for the further detail on DF. A couple of comments about this specific piece. First, it is very heavy. Far more than some other boards that I bought at the same time and which have a similar ring count. And in person I don't see any difference in color from those other pieces of DF, or from the 50 year old piece that I pulled out of Petrel. So I'm thinking it's fine. My plan is to use it as a repair piece for a deck beam that will be covered by plywood and fiberglass. So with any luck it won't get much exposure to moisture.

    Mr. Nutkin, I'll take a look at Understanding Wood. Seems like something I should add to my library. Thanks!
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    I think Wayne has already ordered the AYC for that spot on Snoose. Since that pic he has pulled the anchor roller and bow plate as there appears to be a little softness there as well which I've long suspected. It will be nice to have that taken care of. I'm going to have a lot of finish painting to do when he is done. Starting to get antsy about using the boat again as the weather starts to improve.

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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    Quote Originally Posted by cstevens View Post
    What's the consensus? Good? Ok? Wouldn't use it to build a chicken coop? Currently rotting away as I sit here? Just trying to further my woodworking education a bit.
    Thanks,
    I wouldn't use it in a chicken coop, at least not without feeling guilty for having wasted it. I found a pic in http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/person...%20douglas.htm that shows similar end grain and figure in a quartersawn piece of DF:

    It is almost at the bottom of the page, so not hard to find.

    It looks better to me than it does to Gib, who has vastly more experience than I do here. I can only argue with Gib to the extent that the color quality of the picture is an issue to be considered before putting too much stock in a judgement based on the color that Gib saw on his monitor. I would not ignore his warning, but I would try to learn more about what the colors should look like. Gib may not have seen the same color that you saw. Your camera settings, the ambient light etc. all change the color that you see in a picture. So too brown is a bad thing based on his experience as long as the color he saw was real, which depends on a lot of things that are hard to control. This page talks about color, but is focused more on deliberate color alteration than the hard to avoid problems that I am talking about: http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/person...correction.htm

    A relationship between density and mechanical properties is given on page 5-29 of this: https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/f...chapter_05.pdf

    The reason that you don't want grain runout is that wood is around 20 times stronger in the grain direction as it is across the grain. When the grain runs at an angle to the length of the board, the load is applied at a bad angle to the grain, so the board is weak. Look at the tables 5-3a and 5-3b in the fpl publication above. Modulus of rupture is pretty much the same as tension parallel to the grain. For DF, the MOR is 12400 psi, shear is 1130psi and tension perpendicular to the grain is only 340psi. As the runout angle increases, the strength of the board is going from MOR to shear to tension perpendicular to the grain.
    Last edited by MN Dave; 04-17-2017 at 01:08 AM.
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    Default Re: Douglas Fir Again

    I own http://www.philadelphiasalvage.com/ . Salvage only Old Growth lumber from buildings built over 120 years ago. The old growth is MUCH more durable than anything new.

    For what it's worth, I sell Old Growth Southern Yellow Pine to a number of boat yards. Not much out there more durable than the Old Yellow Pine and I have it in large 10x10" x 15 long pieces. Do NOT confuse this with modern Yellow Pine. They screwed up at the South Street Seaport and rebuilt a tug rail in the new stuff, it lasted about 4 years.

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