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Timber Species Information

Species Characteristics Suggested Uses

Ash

Fraxinus excelsior ash sample

A pale hardwood with a distinctive grain. It shows large flame-like figuring on back-sawn boards. It is very suited to steam bending. There is little to distinguish the sapwood from the heartwood, and it has no natural durability.

Joinery

Flooring

Yurt-making

Douglas Fir

Pseudotsuga menzei douglas sample.JPG (368535 bytes)

This timber is popular for structural applications for its strength and straight grain. We can supply it in long lengths and large sections. Some of the largest individual logs we have supplied weighed in the region of ten tons! It is rated as moderately durable, although it is less durable than larch and western red cedar. It has a distinct grain, with a marked difference in colour between spring and summer wood. The grain tends to show even on finished and painted timber, which can give an attractive effect or be a problem, depending on what one is trying to achieve.

Decking (preservative advisable)

Timber Framing

Joinery

Floor Boards

Larch

Larix kaempferi larch sample.JPG (371626 bytes)

Larch is the only deciduous conifer widely grown for timber, and is a strikingly beautiful tree in spring and autumn. The timber is strong and moderately durable. There is a long tradition on the continent of using larch for external cladding of buildings. It is probably slightly less durable than western red cedar, but its higher strength and resistance to knocks can be an advantage. It is the favoured species for log cabin builders in this country.

External Cladding

Construction

Log cabins

Fencing<

Oak

Quercus robur
oak frame

Strong and durable with a lovely grain. It is the classic English timber with a wealth of tradition behind it. It is rated as durable, which makes it the only UK grown timber, except sweet chestnut, suitable for use in contact with the soil without treatment. Its durability comes from a very high tannin content which does tend to leach out. Run off from this will stain brick, stone or lead. It is best used with stainless steel fixings.

External cladding

Garden landscaping

Floorboards

Joinery

Timber frame

Scots pine

Pinus silvestris scots pine sample.jpg (93443 bytes)

If timber is referred to as scots pine it implies that it is UK grown. Imported wood of the same species (pinus silvestris) is known as ‘redwood’ in the trade. It has a distinct grain and large, but generally sound, knots. It is not durable and requires preservative for external use.

Internal joinery

Floorboards

Spruce

Picea sitchensis
Picea abies

There are two species of spruce, Norway or Sitka, with very similar timber. Spruce is the ‘whitewood’ of the timber trade. It is a strong timber used mainly for construction. It tends to be relatively knotty, with some of the knots being ‘dead’ and prone to falling out. It is not durable and requires preservative for external use.

Construction

Internal cladding

Sycamore

Acer pseudoplatanus

Sycamore is a maple (sometimes known as 'great maple') and has a dense white timber with an even, indistinct grain. Like most maples it is very hard and resistant to denting.

Furniture

Worktops

Toy Making

Western Red Cedar

Thuja plicata
Community Hall - western red cedar

An attractive, light weight timber with an aromatic smell which persists for years after cutting. It is rated as moderately durable, and is probably the most durable of the softwoods included in this category. Studies at Imperial College (one of them using our cedar) have shown that the durability of home grown cedar compares well with imported material. Western Red Cedar is very stable, having about half the moisture movement of most softwoods. It is not particularly strong, and is relatively soft. It is best used with stainless steel fixings to prevent staining caused by the chemicals which gives it its durability.

External Cladding

Decking

Conservatories and greenhouses

Western Hemlock

Tsuga heterophilla
Western Hemlock Floor

A pale timber with few knots and an attractive grain. It is not durable and is not recommended for external use without treatment

Internal cladding

Timber framing

Flooring

Joinery

This is only a few of the available species. We have most species grown in Britain - just ask. Contact Nick Hoare on 01747 445004 or e-mail nick@stourhead.com.