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Thread: Douglas Fir

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Mukilteo, Washington
    Posts
    229

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    I am currently working on a small development project that neccesitates the removal of a couple of D. Fir trees. They are over 36" in diameter and straight. I am thinking of bringing in a wood mizer guy to mill some of it up for me. My question is, is there potential boatbuilding use with this material other than using it to frame a shed to build a boat in? I have been using good quality VG fir for furniture for years, but am unsure what or if it has any use in boatbuilding. Also, does anyone have any insight into drying time, if it is stored inside in a heated space? Thanks in advance for any advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Seabeck, WA
    Posts
    9,754

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    Construction lumber? Sure....but they are too big for most portable Woodmizers...find somebody with a Lucas, Mobile Dimension or Peterson Mill.

    Boat framing and planking? Depends on the ring count. If these were forest trees most of their life they'll have 8 rings or better to the inch...the standard for No 1 grading...and are worth anywhere from $.60 to $1.00 a BF in the log. If these are house site or sun-grown trees exposed to sun and wind, they may be fast growers with only 4 rings to the inch and loads of deep knots....worth only $60 bucks a ton in the log.

    But almost all the locally-built work boats...and many yachts...you see in the Pac NW have DF framing and DF planking and often decking. Smaller boats more often use one of the cedars for planking, as DF is relatively hard and stiff.

    Your sawyer can show you how to stack and sticker it...using wanes for stickers is fine....have him cut some 6X6's out of the rough tops for bearers. Stack it outdoors for one drying season per inch of thickness before moving indoors or it can dry too fast. No need to paint the ends of DF if you shade them by making an awning out of your top couple board decks int he stack and covering the top with tar paper, leaving the sides open.

    Here's a backyard milling job on a tree like you describe:

    http://www.baileys-online.com/earlsFir.htm

    And here's how to find a local sawyer:

    http://www.sawmill-exchange.com/index.htm

    http://www.mobilemfg.com/

    http://www.baileys-online.com/

    http://www.woodmizer.com/welcome.html

    http://www.powersources.com/timberwolf/?43,62

    Check the phonebook and the mill manufacturers/sellers for portable sawmillers locally. The mill builders are happy to provide names of local guys who own their mills. Local tree service guys will know of them, too. Few advertise.

    A lot of them sell their excess lumber on the Wood Exchange:

    http://www.woodweb.com/cgi-bin/forums/lumber.pl

    A whole number of arborists or their employees run their own mills to salvage something more useful than firewood out of the trees they cut....I know 4 arborists here and each one has a mill somewhere in their firm....and they know guys like me with portable mills they sell special logs to.

    Logs don't last stored on the ground...they get beetles...usually they are cut immediately and stacked and stickered. All that stuff you hear about leaving your logs on the ground for a year to "season" is bunk...it doesn't season at all, merely degreades....once milled, stacked, stickered and covered, it will last indefinitely that way.
    And if they are over 15 rings to the inch and you are within a hundred or so miles let me know....I might be able to get you a better deal with somebody on shares than paying a local guy the usual 40 bucks an hour.

    Decent DF is so common here that you might have a hard time getting someone to cut it on shares unless it is exceptional wood.

    After your arborist falls and bucks it, let me know the diameters and lengths and what kind of mill will cut it and I can estimate how many BF you'll recover...but this is gonna be well over 10,000 BF if you recover two 40' logs from each tree.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Port of Lorain,Ohio
    Posts
    15,466

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    It's been my experience, that Douglas Fir is a great boat wood. It's highly rot resistant, lightweight and holds fasteners well. Old growth is better than new growth.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    18,191

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    I use Doug fir quite a bit. In fact I just stripped a canoe using Doug Fir and I use it to make all of my spars with. It is a great wood to work with and I wouldn't hesitate to use it.

    Of course listen to what Bob says, he knows more about wood than I ever will.

    Chad

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Sharon, MA
    Posts
    190

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    I'm no wood expert, but I've used Douglas Fir in a number of projects, and it's terrific. Best of all, if you don't happen to have a tree, it is obtainable from the local Home Depot and Lowes big box stores, sold as 'poorch flooring', in 1 x 4 dimension (and occasionally wider). It's very cheap, and if you can pick through the pile, it's not hard to find pieces that are absolutely clear, knot free, and straight grained. My only complaint: the corners of the boards are already eased by the mill, so you need a jointer if you want to have a square edge.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Duncan, Vancouver Island
    Posts
    28,132

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    DF is an awesome boat building wood. If I had to choose only one wood to build an entire boat out of I would probably use doug fir. There is virtually no part of a boat you couln't use it in as a substitute for other woods. Hope you make good use of it. I am envious.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    St. Paul, MN USA
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Douglas Fir

    Hello everyone. I am new to the forum but I have a question. I am think about building Walt Barron's lumberyard skiff. I have some free white oak I could use or I could buy some inexpensive douglas fir in my area. My question is about weight between the two wood species. Would the white oak add too much weight for a 16 ft boat. What would you guys use if it were you? Thank you and I love the site.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Hills of Vermont, USA
    Posts
    24,819

    Default Re: Douglas Fir

    The entire keel of my boat is DF. 78 years old this year.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Pleasant Valley NS Canada
    Posts
    15,076

    Default Re: Douglas Fir

    nardie-1999, white oak weighs about 40 lbs per cu. ft. at a dry 12% moisture content, DF weighs about 30 lbs per cu. ft., so you are looking at an overall increase in the weight of the boat of around 25% if you build it of oak. It won't make that much difference in the using of the boat other than you won't have as much carrying capacity, but it will make it a lot harder to muscle the boat around on land. Personally, I'd save the oak for my next build (great for backbone & steamed ribs in a boat with cedar planking), and build the LYS out of DF, but that is only my opinion and is worth the paper it is written on.
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    5,213

    Default Re: Douglas Fir

    The LYS is planked with plywood, so only the framing would be heavier, and since it's oak you can reduce the scantlings to about 10% less than what you would use for fir so it would not be much heavier at all. In my opinion the LYS framing is over built anyway so that 10% reduction could be even 20% if you glue and screw all of the joinery.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    north queensland
    Posts
    2,595

    Default Re: Douglas Fir

    the imported DF I took delivery of yesterday cost me around $37 per meter. I got 3 x 3.3m x 150mm x 50mm: plain sawn, Class 2 (whatever that means), kiln dried, alleged old growth. Im using it for the bowsprit on my 30' gaff cutter. it has 2 or 3 very small knots but is otherwise good to use.

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