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Spruce, Sitka

Common Name(s): Sitka Spruce


Sitka Spruce has an outstanding stiffness-to-weight ratio, and is available in large, straight-grained pieces, lending this timber to a wide range of commercial uses.

Thicknesses

Tree Size: 130-160 ft (40-50 m) tall, 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 m) trunk diameter

Distribution

Northwestern North America

Scientific Name

Picea sitchensis

Specific Gravity: Basic 

0.36

Specific Gravity: 12% MC

0.42

Janka Hardness

510 lbf (2,270 N)

Colour/Appearance

Ranges from cream/white to yellow; heartwood can also exhibit a subtle pinkish red hue in some instances. Sapwood not clearly demarcated from heartwood. Some pieces can exhibit a special grain pattern called bearclaw—vaguely resembling the scratches of a bear’s claws.

Grain/Texture

Sitka Spruce has a fine, even texture, and a consistently straight grain.

Endgrain

Medium sized resin canals (larger than other spruce), sparse to numerous and variable in distribution; solitary or in tangential groups of several; earlywood to latewood transition gradual, colour contrast medium; tracheid diameter medium-large.

Rot Resistance

Heartwood is rated as being slightly resistant to non-resistant to decay.

Workability

Easy to work, as long as there are no knots present. Glues and finishes well, though it can give poor (blotchy and inconsistent) results when being stained due to its closed pore structure. A sanding sealer, gel stain, or toner is recommended when colouring Spruce.

Odor

No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity

Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Spruce in the Picea genus has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include skin irritation and/or respiratory disorders. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability

Construction grade spruce is cheap and easy to find. However, old growth and/or quartersawn clear pieces—free from knots—can be more expensive. Quartersawn billets of instrument-grade Sitka Spruce can easily exceed the cost of most all domestic hardwoods in terms of per board-foot cost.

Sustainability

This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.
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