Douglas Fir, once you’ve picked it up it’s hard to put it down!
Friend of the forester, saw-miller and woodworker alike but taken for granted in it’s own back yard!
Douglas Fir is the strongest of our homegrown softwoods. It’s nearly as tough as nails! It can cope with heavy duty framing, groundworks, cladding and landscaping. Like Oak, there’s not a lot it can’t be used for externally, it is naturally durable and will fare better than another softwood in the ground, but it can be difficult to treat due to it’s density and resin content.
Dare I say it.. it’s also the most inexpensive of all the fresh sawn softwoods we do!
What’s in a name?
The name Douglas Fir includes the following species Pseudotsuga menziesii, Pseudotsuga taxifolia, Pseudotsuga douglasii. Other names used for what amounts to the same timber species are British Columbian pine, Columbian pine, Oregon pine.
Heart wood is light reddish brown when dry (although quite pink when fresh sawn) with contrasting creamy white sap. There is a strong contrast in colour between early and late growth which gives prominent growth rings resulting in strong grain pattern and figure. Uk trees seem less resinous than imported and are probably faster growing.
Technical Info from TRADA
Mechanical Strength: Compared with European redwood (usually called’ unsorted’ softwood) it is some 60 per cent stiffer, 40 per cent harder and more resistant to suddenly applied loads, and 30 per cent stronger in bending and in compression along the grain.
Durability: Homegrown = slightly durable, Imported = moderately durable
Treatability: Extremely difficult although sapwood easier (maybe UK will be easier re: less resin?)
Moisture movement: Small
Density: 530 Kg/m3 (dry)
Fresh sawn: (Homegrown) Custom cut and commonly available in widths or sections up to 300mm and 6m long but ‘bigger’ is always possible if there’s a tree to get it from. Douglas does grow long and straight so getting above 6m isn’t so much of a problem depending on your widths. Widths are trickier. If you need it don’t be afraid to ask… and then we’ll ask the foresters!!
Dry: (Imported) Usually available ex 25, 50, 65, 80 & 100mm thick. Boards are not terribly wide but decent lengths with max 5ish metres
Uses of Douglas Fir Timber
Fresh sawn Douglas timber is good for structural work, cladding and external landscaping – we recently sent some down to a Southampton boatyard for a drydock.
Dry, Douglas Fir is a good all rounder really. Good for most joinery or furniture work – it’s at the high quality end of softwood joinery material if anything. Superb for flooring – ask Dinesen! Also excellent air dried external cladding , looks great with a machined profile because it has a nice machined surface, not splitty or draggy (you know what I mean) and it’s a mellow colour, not orangey – here’s some in this project by Rupert Scott at Open Practice Architecture
We supply Fresh Sawn Douglas Fir to order, but we do keep a little stock for emergencies. We’re planning to cut and dry homegrown Douglas Fir for use as air dried cladding, decking and, potentially, for flooring in extra special wide boards. Exciting stuff!