# Spruce or Fir supplier

Discussion in 'Wood Construction' started by eflyer, Nov 30, 2012.

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1. Nov 30, 2012

### eflyer

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Hello to all-
I am trying to find a source for Sitka Spruce or Douglas Fir in the S.E Virgina area. I cannot seem to find a lumber yard that stocks either. I am in Virginia Beach.
Any suggestions ?
Thanks
Jim

2. Nov 30, 2012

### TFF

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I would doubt you will find Sitka Spruce unless it is a wooden boat supplier. Doug Fir may be found sometimes where exposed timber beams are used in construction. You are going to have to grade it yourself. You might have to buy and cut out enough to be as expensive as buying from an aviation supplier in the end. Kind of depends on luck finding good enough stuff.

3. Nov 30, 2012

### Dana

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Aircraft Spruce & Specialty is probably your best bet. Not local to you, but a great mailorder supplier.

-Dana

Not all politicians are crooks, but the ones that are sure are making the other 10 percent look bad.

4. Nov 30, 2012

### rheuschele

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I'll get a lot of guff for this, but Doug fir can be bought in both, Home Depot and Lowes. If you look into the 4x4's and the doug fir flooring they sell, you'll have to go through quite a bit of them but you will find good stock. Like TFF said, you will have to cut out the bad parts and grade it yourself, but once you learn, it works out great. Another place in the big box store to look is the molding department. Some of the stores carry Doug fir hand rail. These will come in handy for the longerons. I do find it hard to beleive that none of the local (family owned) lumber yards don't carry Sitka, especially that close to sail boat country. When you call them, don't make the mistake of telling them it's for a plane, tell them it's for a boat. No one will talk to you if you tell them it's for a plane.
Ron

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5. Dec 1, 2012

### StarJar

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When I lived in Las Vegas, the lumber yards did not have what I wanted, but there was a small place that caterred to cabinet makers, that had some nice clear wood. If you call a cabinet maker, maybe they can tell you where to find clear Fir (or Spruce if lucky).

6. Dec 2, 2012

### Dakota Westin

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Go to Home Depot or Lowes, to the contractor's counter, and ask them if they have a source for S4S(surfaced 4 sides), tight grained, CVG(clear vertical grained) Doug Fir. Many times you can buy Doug Fir CVG flooring but be sure it is tight grained. You ideally need about 10 rings per inch. Keep in mind that you will need to mill your wood from this stock and milling equals waste. Unless you have a band saw each cut you make will result in 1/8 of an inch in waste. Then a bit more if you run it through a planer. One can make a lot of sawdust out of good wood.

I don't think I would tell them what your using it for just what you need.

Then again one can save some money if you consider your time to be free.

Try these places.
Powell McClellan Lumber Co Inc in norfolk

MARYLAND SELECT HARDWOODS7470 Mason Springs Road, La Plata, MD301-753-6120

7. Dec 9, 2012

### allan usherwood

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Regar ding the location of Doulas Fir, although I live in Western Australia and imported fir is quite common I found the best supply was from Ladder manufacturers ,the quality is superb and the density varies well within the ideal for aircraft. Traditional cherry picking ladders are still popular in Autralia as maybe the USA. hope this is of help. Allan Usherwood Spitfire builder.

8. Dec 9, 2012

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Baseboard and crown molding makers have branch free, straight grain wood too. I don´t know if these people build it for spruce/ douglas fir in USA. Worth of calling to ask.
We find excellent, aircraft quality pine for these company´s in Finland.

9. Dec 10, 2012

### gschuld

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I am a wooden boatbuilder, so by requirement, I am a certified wood snob. I have worked with sitka spruce and vertical grain doug fir for over 20 years. Though I will not speak for others priorities and situations, I wouldn't consider settling for anything less than the best possible quality of lumber for an airplane. The cost of the raw lumber will likely be a very small fraction of the overall budget, yet it makes up the primary structure of your plane(assuming you plan on an all wood design) OK, off my soapbox...

Below is a link to a "fine lumber" supplier in Richmond Va.

I have no personal dealings with them, but they appear to carry Sitka and they aren't too far from you. If you choose to hand select your own wood, please familiar yourself with the standards necessary to be aircraft quality. Unless you are confident with hand selecting lumber, a supplier such as Aircraft Spruce is probably your best bet.

George

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10. Dec 10, 2012

### litespeed

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i would follow the advice of a quality wooden boat builder really the only use that i even close to aircraft use.

Assuming you can train yourself in grading then - if available I would do that- with a few caveats.

Photo with phone etc all the ones up close you think may make the grade next to a suitable ruler-then refer back to thses later to judge how you went- better than buying and a good self check. You can always post photos for some advice.

If any doubts are in your mind then that piece may not be for you.

Yes you will waste some wood and need good tools to cut and shape it- but they can be kept and be useful later anyway.

Any extra wood that does not make the grade is still great for other applications.

Give it a thought

Phil

11. Dec 10, 2012

### SVSUSteve

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Exactly, although in some cases, I would say the workmanship of wooden sailing craft exceeds even the best wooden airplanes. I would love to take up boat building as a hobby once I get to a point in my life where that is an option.

12. Dec 10, 2012

### rheuschele

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Jim, as much as I believe in going the route of Doug fir, if I had a lumber yard near me that sold Sitka Spruce that I could actually go to and see for myself, I would have gone that route. The money you save by learning how to grade lumber yourself and being able to pick it out sure beats the heck out of paying A/S's prices and the shipping.
Ron

13. Dec 30, 2012

### Brian Clayton

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I went the white pine route for my ultralight (my first aircraft )project. I couldnt use fir because of weight issues. I can say that I dont think I will go this route again....ever. Yes, picking thru piles of lumber at the big box stores (and any other hardware store I could find) saved me money on the actual material costs...but.... multiple trips to at least a dozen hardware stores in 2 states (ga and tn), whatever I saved on material, I spent on gas. Not to mention evenings when I could have been building vs wandering around to a hardware store, hoping they got some new wood in. I have bought 1x12 wood, just to cut a 3/4 x 3/4 stringer off each side just to finish something. I still ended up getting regular sitka from aircraft spruce for my spar caps, just because I was not comfortable with the local quality (I had to get plywood and glue from them anyway, its not like the box stores carry 1.5mm birch or t-88). In the end, the money I saved was minimal compared to the time I spent sourcing local. At best, I may have saved 200.00 worth of shipping, but I dont think I really saved anything on material if you count my time and gas. Next project, I will just make a list and either have it shipped or pick it up in person.

14. Feb 27, 2013

### eflyer

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Thanks to all who replied and offered opinions.
I checked all local yards and none stocked Sitka. One yard did back in the late 80's and I graded & purchased rough cut 1" & 2" thicknesses in lengths up to 14 feet.
When I inquired recently they said they could order Sitka for me.
I looked at several local yards with no luck looking for Douglas Fir.
The one exception was Powell McClelland in Norfolk. They had a nice selection of 1 x 6 & 1 X 8 vertical grain up to 16 feet in length.
While looking at the supply & grading some boards I noticed some 5/4 x 3 DF in a seperate bin.
I was told they had been cut for park bench slats. Closer inspection revealed beautiful straight vertical grain.
I picked out 3 nice ones & proceeded to the register. When they told me they would charge $2.00 ea I went back & picked 3 more. Soooo for 12.00 I got enough to get back to the KR I started about a hundred years ago. Hope to finish it in this lifetime V/r Jim 15. Mar 9, 2013 ### dlkjrice ### dlkjrice #### New Member Joined: Mar 9, 2013 Messages: 1 Likes Received: 0 Location: Osage, IA Look up Boulter Plywood on the net. They are on the east coast and supply boat builders. Excellent quality mast grade spruce and douglas fir. (vertical grain, clear). 16. Mar 10, 2013 ### Danielle ### Danielle #### Well-Known Member Joined: Jun 23, 2012 Messages: 103 Likes Received: 113 Location: Alaska and Maine Boulters supplied me with some very nice sitka Danielle 17. Jan 27, 2015 ### pictsidhe ### pictsidhe #### Well-Known Member Joined: Jul 15, 2014 Messages: 7,218 Likes Received: 2,060 Location: North Carolina Don't forget red and white Spruce! I can saunter down to a Lowes or HD and find that as 'Whitewood' in NC. It's cheap, very cheap. The biggest I've seen is 6"x2"x16'; about$10 IIRC, for the length, not per foot! Sizes above that are generally Southern Yellow Pine, which is a bit heavy for us. One good length of $10 spruce is$100s worth from Aircraft Spruce. Physical properties of red and white spruce are nearly identical to Sitka. You are going to have fun picking out the 'aircraft grade' stuff and cutting it down though. Long bits suitable for spars could be hard to find, but shorter bits for ribs etc, should be easy. I'd want to do some testing to check wood is as good as I think it looks. 4x2 studding would take a lot of sorting, but I have used some very nice bits in house walls. Larger longer sections tend to have the better wood, though there's usually knots to avoid. There's the odd straight, knotless piece. The prices at Aircraft Spruce are not compatible with my geodetic 103 idea, 52c per foot of 1/2x1/8? 'Lowe Depot' prices are. I'm also in those places fairly often so when I actually start this project, I can look for good wood when in. The moulding section often has nice straight pine, but the prices are a bit high to be saving money. Convenience is good, though. Lowes often has planed Tulip Poplar boards, another potential structural wood, but only 8' lengths.
Wood is going to vary by area, go to your local big box and find out exactly what they have, then work out if you can make use of it. I was very pleased when I first went to one (I'm British, in the process of emmigrating) and noticed that the cheapest wood was Spruce!

18. Jan 27, 2015

### rheuschele

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You can? In the UK?

19. Jan 28, 2015

### gschuld

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It makes me very uncomfortable to see people suggest that cheap fast growth white or red spruce 2x lumber available at your local home improvement box store is a reasonable substitute for quality Sitka spruce. It's like claiming cheap mild steel is an acceptable alternative to 4130 chromoly steel tubing for a fuselage.

George

20. Jan 28, 2015

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