Sitka Spruce is a softwood originating from a conifer tree called Picea sitchensis, which primarily grows in Northwestern North America.
As a softwood species, Sitka Spruce is light-colored wood and is very durable. However, it’s a beautiful wood with a fine texture and straight grain and is super easy to work with. It is commonly found in the united states.
This wood is particularly prized for its high stiffness-to-weight ratio, which makes it suitable for use in various construction projects, including building structures, aircraft components, shipbuilding and precipitation..
It is easily available in large, clear pieces and is also often used for making soundboards for musical instruments.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Sitka Spruce wood, its physical properties, appearance, and common uses.
What is Sitka Spruce?
It’s a softwood with a cream white to yellowish heartwood that has a straight grain and fine texture. It has a high strength-to-weight ratio and is primarily used in structural construction. It is an evergreen wood with a clear surface.
Though it’s not naturally resistant to decay or insects, it is still favoured for marine applications such as boatbuilding and shipbuilding because of its excellent strength-to-weight ratio.
The trees are the largest among all types of spruce. They can go up to 70 m in height.
Sitka Spruce is not a very heavy wood. The average weight of the dried wood is around 425 kg/m3.
It is moderately hard with low density. The wood is mostly used for its lightweight, strength, and flexibility.
- Average Dried Weight: 27 lbs/ft3 (425 kg/m3)
- Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .36, .42
- Janka Hardness: 510 lbf (2,270 N)
- Modulus of Rupture: 10,150 lbf/in2 (70.0 MPa)
- Elastic Modulus: 1,600,000 lbf/in2 (11.03 GPa)
- Crushing Strength: 5,550 lbf/in2 (38.2 MPa)
- Shrinkage: Radial: 4.3%, Tangential: 7.5%, Volumetric: 11.5%, T/R Ratio: 1.7
Trees & Origin
The tree of Sitka Spruce is called Picea sitchensis and has an average height of 130-160 ft (40-50 m) and a 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 m) trunk diameter. Sitka Spruce is commonly found in coastal regions of North America and Europe, including ireland.
Some very old trees can have a height of up to 95-100 m and a diameter of up to two metres.
The wood (trees) are primarily found in the coastal regions of British Columbia (Canada), including vancouver island.
There are dedicated forests consisting of only pure stands of Sitka Spruce trees, but a few Douglas-fir, western red cedar and red alder trees can also be sometimes found mixed in the stand.
As a conifer tree, it has green and sharp needles in place of leaves. There are reddish to yellowish brown cones containing seeds.
Physical Properties & Appearance
As a softwood, it has a soft and non-durable heartwood but an outstanding strength-to-weight ratio.
Also, it has an attractive appearance with a clear, spotless surface.
Color & Appearance
The heartwood color ranges from creamy white to pinkish-yellow or brown and also sometimes has a pinkish-red hue. Thin dark-colored lines or streaks are also visible on a clear surface.
The sapwood of Sitka Spruce is also light-coloured and not clearly distinguishable from the heartwood.
Sometimes, a special figured grain pattern called bearclaw can be seen on some pieces, but it is not very common.
It has a straight grain and fine, uniform texture.
Weight & Density
The fresh (green) wood has a density in the range of 340-370 kg/m3, while air dried Sitka Spruce has an improved density score of 400-425 kg/m3.
The average Janka hardness rating of Sitka Spruce is 510 lbf (2,270 N).
As with any other wood, the sides are less hard than the end of the wood (3000 N Janka score).
Strength & Durability
Sitka Spruce is a moderately strong wood with a 510 lbf hardness rating on the Janka scale. It can be slightly resistant or non-resistant to decay or rot.
It has a high strength-to-weight ratio, which means Sitka Spruce is stronger than other woods or elements of the same weight. In other words, it is stronger for its weight.
Sitka Spruce is generally very easy to work with owing to its straight grain. It is particularly easy to work with machines.
It glues, turns, planes, and shapes really well. Nailing and screwing is easy enough.
However, its closed pore structure will sometimes cause poor staining results, which is why the use of a sanding sealer or toner is recommended when colouring this wood.
Thanks to its clear surface and fine texture, it finishes in an even colour for a natural wood finish.
It also sands well to a smooth finish. Good veneering results are obtained.
Turning can sometimes result in torn-out grain. The presence of knots can sometimes cause problems while sawing.
It has good dimensional stability. Even during drying, it doesn’t change dimensions a lot and dries without checking.
It dries well and quickly. Must be stored and handled carefully to avoid warping and splitting after drying.
It is generally kiln-dried to improve its physical properties, strength, stiffness, appearance, and resistance to decay and insects and preserve its natural staining.
Sitka Spruce is a sustainable wood species with no threat of being extinct anytime soon.
Price & Availability
Sitka Spruce timber primarily originates in the US and is used all over the world, including the UK.
It is an inexpensive wood with easy availability, which is why it is a common choice of construction wood for many woodworkers.
High-quality wood from old trees and quarter sawn pieces, especially ones without knots, can be rare and quite expensive.
Clear grades, construction lumber and moulding wood are the most commonly available varieties. Export grades are available for international markets.
While construction-grade Sitka Spruce is easily available at a low price, instrument-grade Sitka Spruce, particularly quartersawn pieces, can be very expensive because of high demand and limited availability.
Uses & Applications
Construction-grade Sitka Spruce is prized for its outstanding stiffness-to-weight ratio and is considered suitable for a variety of structural projects, including making the structure and components for aircraft and wind turbine blades due to their low weight and good strength.
Did you know, the original flying plane, the 1903 Wright Flyer, by the Wright Brothers was made using Sitka Spruce?
It is also used for making attractive furniture items for regular use. It is not suitable for outdoor applications.
Other than that, it is also used as lumber and for making boxes and crates. Because the wood is practically free from any odour or taste, it is perfect for storing and processing food.
Sitka Spruce timber is also used in the construction of attractive millwork for interior use.
Clear grades of Sitka Spruce are considered suitable for fine interior work, mouldings, joinery, trim, and sliding screens.
The high strength-to-weight ratio of Sitka Spruce also makes it an ideal wood for use in the shipbuilding industry for building boats and ships and their parts such as masts, deck beams, and spars.
Normally, high grades of Spruce are used for this purpose. It is also commonly used for making industrial equipment that is strong and lightweight.
Because of its excellent resonating properties, Sitka Spruce is also considered a wonderful wood choice for making soundboards for musical instruments like piano, violin, and guitar.
As a softwood, it is also a good choice for making good-quality boxes and crates.
It can also be used for making turned objects and small speciality items. Moreover, the roots are used for making strong hats, ropes, baskets, and fishing lines.
Buy Sitka Spruce Wood Timber Online At The Best Price
It is a wonderful choice for a wide range of applications. It is a strong and light wood with good workability, which makes it one of the obvious choices of woodworkers for structural and other commercial applications.
If you are looking to buy Sitka Spruce timber, you can visit our website to contact us about your timber requirements and project.
We have high grades of sustainable Sitka Spruce wood available in various dimensions suitable for different projects, which you can buy at the best price in the market.
If you need help selecting the right wood for your project or want to know more about our timber range, quality, dimensions, availability, and price, feel free to get in touch to consult with one of our timber consultants.