Softwood lumber typically comes from seed-producing trees such as fir, cedar, and spruce. Softwoods are generally used for exterior lumber projects and application, but they are also quite versatile and can be suited for a broad range of structural and appearance applications. Many homes and timber framings, for example, are built from softwood, and the lumber can also be used to build furniture, mill work, and even flooring. What’s more, the lumber is environmentally friendly and helps to reduce manufacturing’s impact on climate change.
Softwood lumber offers high and proven performance characteristics, as well as significant price point advantage. Softwood lumbers vary in grain, hardness, and density and come in a variety of species and grades, making softwood lumber perfect for nearly any project. Below you will find descriptions of three popular varieties of softwood lumber:
Douglas Fir is one of the most popular types of softwood lumber. It is often used for structural applications that are built to withstand high loads, including houses, sheds, and most types of building architecture.
Douglas Firs typically grow between 70 and 290 feet tall, and since the trees are so large, they allow for large timbers to be milled to set a standard for the timber framing industry.
They are very widespread and abundant throughout North America, meaning they’re a sustainable and readily available source of lumber.
Douglas Firs are very stable, and they resist weather and water excellently. These characteristics make Douglas Firs great for exterior framing and marine applications, but this versatile wood will excel in almost any application.
Western Red Cedar
Western Red Cedar is another popular softwood lumber that works well in exterior applications, as the wood is ideal for exterior siding, trim, decks, and furniture.
Typically, Western Red Cedar is lightweight and has a very straight grain. It carries a warm and sophisticated reddish-brown in color, making it an attractive choice for projects in which the final product is to be stained or clear-coated.
Western Red Cedar trees are very large, ranging from 213 feet to 230 feet tall. They grow primarily in northwestern areas of the United States and the southwestern territories of Canada. Western Red Cedar is known for its distinct appearance and aroma, but it also has a high natural resistance to decay, which is what makes it so ideal for outdoor construction. Western Red Cedar is a popular softwood lumber that works well for many projects.
Sitka Spruce is one of the strongest softwood lumbers. It is very lightweight and bendable, which makes it ideal for aircraft building and furniture making, two if its most common applications. The Wright Brothers’ flyer, for example, was built using Sitka Spruce, as were many aircrafts before World War II (and even some currently).
Sitka Spruce is also used in piano, harp, violin, and guitar manufacturing due to its knot-free rings that make it a great conductor of sound. Sitka Spruces are large coniferous evergreen trees that grow up to 263 feet tall. The lumber has various uses, as it is a reliable and durable softwood.
There are many different types of softwood lumbers to consider for your woodworking project. Three of the most popular types include Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, and Sitka Spruce. J.Gibson McIlvain Company, a leader in the lumber industry for over 200 years, is a valuable resource for information on all kinds of softwood lumber needs. For more information on all J.Gibson McIlvain Company has to offer, click here to visit them online.
Want to learn more about the lumber industry? Need tips for woodworking? Then check out these selections from the McIlvain Company blog:
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