Why not spruce?

Discussion in 'Building plans, blueprints, and finished projects' started by PerryBee, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Might be an obvious answer out there that I'm not aware of.
    Given the high cost of frames, I went down to the local lumber yard and got a price on some kiln dried pine ( 2 by ). Wow, not cheap, and not very clear like I had expected.
    Is there any reason that frames could not be made of spruce? Way cheaper and lots of clear stuff on the racks.
     
  2. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Spruce will work fine for boxes and frames. The knots are a little larger and they tend to crack so parts of the knot will break out of the board. The boards warp more with the change in wood grain direction around the knots. so other than being more selective with the lumber and how it is cut spruce works well. It also cracks a bit more when nailing close to the ends so you may have to predrill for the nails.
     

  3. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Thanks Keith. I don't think I'll bother with the boxes, I've got a good line on pine from the local mill. The frames are more what I was wondering about.
     
  4. Americasbeekeeper

    Americasbeekeeper New Member

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    I prefer spruce when I can get it way down here in the deep south. There are different grades of spruce. i use the number two for supers and the number one or select for frames since it, by grade, does not have knots or defects.
     
  5. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    This post of Perry's and Gary's comment about knots and defects in wood is an interesting subject. Why has white pine been the preferred wood for beehives?
    Why does wood warp and twist? Wood being made up of cells that have water in the cells as well as surrounding the cells. The tree standing in the forest the moisture both in and surrounding the cells are equal. although the cells are no longer actively growing in most of the tree, the moisture is maintained by the sap in the vascular cambium, a layer of cells near the bark. Once the tree is harvested and cut into dimensional lumber the moisture has to be removed so that the lumber becomes dimensionally stable. If the lumber is left to dry on its own the moisture leaves the outside portion and ends, that causes checking and cracks in the wood as the cells shrink. The tree standing in the forest is subject to wind blowing, the snow pushing on the tree, but non of these forces are as great as the sun. Trees in the northern hemisphere twist clockwise because the the branches that are in the sun try to twist the tree so they stay in the sunlight longer causing the tree to constantly pulled in the direction of the sun. To remove the moisture to reduce checking and to provide dimensional stability to the wood the lumber is put in a dry kiln to remove the moisture. The dry kiln process is so quick that it removes more of the moisture from around the cells leaving higher moisture in the cells so it takes time for the moisture to equalize. As the moisture leaves the cells the cells shrink some more, pulling against each other causing the board to warp and twist.
    White Pine has small branches so the knots are smaller, the grain of the wood bends around the knots and more importantly attached the grain to the knot so the knot crack very little and wont fall out. The grain is fairly straight and being a softer wood, the cell structure when drying and shrinking doesn't warp the boards as much.
    Spruce trees have a little harder grain than the pine so the pull from the shrinking cells is a little greater. The wood grain goes around the knots but at times does not attach itself to the knots leaving knots loos that can slide out of the board leaving holes. The grain at the knot also bends out in the direction of the limb is growing that can cause week areas close to the knots.
    This is a simplified explanation of the property's of wood. There are a variety of species of pine and spruce trees, all with own unique propertys. Altitude, side of the valley, exposure to the sun, moisture can effect the growth and property's of the wood as well.
     
  6. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Keith, when you guys were making frames, which species did you favour? Was it exclusively pine?
     
  7. brendantm130

    brendantm130 New Member

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    I think you could use just about anything, but pine is lighter than most. I'll get a picture of the mahogany frame ends I milled up on here. It was scrap at work, and had good grain.
     
  8. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    In BC lumber is graded under S-P-F (Spruce, Pine, Fir) the fir and hemlock that has a similar look to fir is cut for 2 by 6/8/10/&12 and is kept separate. When logging if they are harvesting in a large block of mostly white pine it will be kept separate and saw it together. Most of the time the lumber was a called a spruce pine mix the pine being white, ponderousa, lodge poll, and spruce as well there was some larch, tamarack, and balsam mixed in as well. The top and bottom bars it didn't matter. The end bars because of the process it was more economical to pay a premium price and get clear wood. If we used cracked knot filled wood we ended up throwing 30% away. The time lost making the end bars more than paid for the extra cost in materials.
    The better the material the better the frames will be, and the less pieces discarded because of knots or bad grain.
     
  9. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Isn't spruce softer than pine? I'm wondering if a prying hive tool will do more damage to spruce bee equipment than to pine. Spruce guitar tops sure dent and scratch easy! =8-*
     
  10. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Depends on which "pine" you are comparing too. Yellow pine is near as hard as oak and white pine near as soft as cedar. Spruce in the middle. Big variation in tendency to cup or split amongst the different pines too. I have seen it recommended to briefly soak the ends of spruce endbars in hot water to prevent splitting. I had one set of frames made of jackpine and they split and were slivery. I wont be having any more of that!
     
  11. Minz

    Minz Member

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    Building frames I find the end bars you’re looking for some decent material. I pretty much figure the wood is free. I think I was getting about 75 frames from a 2x6 fir (about $4). Tops and bottoms I just build out of 4/4 hemlock (it’s what I have a pile of).
    Look at the grain direction, it will be a better indicator of what the wood is going to do more than the species of evergreen that you are using. Just my 2c
     
  12. reidi_tim

    reidi_tim New Member

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    So is it cost or durability that makes the decision of what flavor of wood you use? I think it was 1999 that I ran across a girl who's father had past he had about 2000 bf of 8/4 kiln dried cherry in his barn that I was looking at buying. There was also 3000 bf 4/4 of ash, 1000 bf of 6/4walnut, and around 3500 of 4/4 red oak. I offered here $1500 for all of it ( meaning the cherry ) she came back with $2400 which put it @ $1.20 a bf well below what it was worth back then. It was more then I wanted to give ( more then I had in extra money ) so I told her I needed to call my dad to see if he wanted to go in half with me so I wouldn't be broke. I called dad and he wanted to come and look at to make sure it was what I was telling him it was. ( I made a few bad purchases that involved dad in my younger days ). So the next weekend we both went out there and ran a piece thru the planer that he had. It did not check or splinter like you would expect from air dried. So we decided to go ahead and give her the $2400. She asked how we where going to get it all home I said we have the 16' trailer with us she came back and said we could load our trailer and her trailer ( if dad or I would drive her truck )to be able to do it in one trip:???:. So we pulled our trailer in the barn and she started loading the ash on it, I was like no I wanted the cherry and she said the $2400 was for everything:shock:. Dad and I did not even feel right about it so we ended up giving her $5000 ( $1200 from me the rest from dad ) A lot of the ash and oak turn on to become the hardwood floors in our houses, and I have used the cherry and walnut on projects like my mantel and for the stand on my fish tank. So I could make a box out of walnut cheaper then making one out of pine.
     
  13. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    The newest wood being sold is poplar I remamber when you couldnot give it away for fire wood. now it is run as paint grade moldings, plywood and chip board. It grows so fast the it can be harvested every 15 to 20 years. it is a little stringy when cutting but straight grain with small knots. the wood has a greenish tint to it and it turns slimy if it stays moist. it would make good frames but would be tougher to cit than pine or spruce.