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  1. #1

    Douglas Fir vs. Pine question

    I am building a rocking horse for my daughter, and I am having a really difficult time finding wood for this thing.
    The plans call for
    one 2" thick 12" by 6 Foot long board
    one 1" thick 12" by 8 Foot long board

    I went to my local lumber yard where I buy all my hard woods. The widest of any hardwood that they had that was 2" thick was 8", and it is EXPENSIVE!

    If I use this, I would have to do 2 things I really dont want to do, first I would have to edge join two 6" boards to get the 12" board, which will be a pain and could weaken in time, and second spend a ton of money on all the lumber.

    I went to Lowes today and they had some really nice 1" thick, 12" wide select pine boards, and they also had 2" thick, 12" wide Douglas Fir boards that were pretty nice and mostly not free.

    My question is threefold, 1) Has anyone ever worked with Douglas Fir before in a woodworking project? I know it is meant for decking and outdoor use, but could I use it for this? 2) How difficult will it be to match the colors on the pine and the D.F. for finishing? 3)Would I be better off using all select pine, and face jointing 2 1" thick boards together for this project?

    Any help would be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Ephrata, Pa, USA.

    RE: Douglas Fir vs. Pine question

    Ok, first I assume(bad thing to do,lol)that your talking about a 2x12 as in building lumber. While it says 2x12 it is actually 1 1/2x11 1/2.
    Not sure If that will mess up you patern requirments or not. These boards can tend to be sappy. And firs are pine so not a lot of difference I believe.
    Now, just my 2 cents so take it as you will. I make horses and use 3/4" hardwood. Mostly walnut, but some cherry, birch, maple. I get it at the mill and plane it myself. I usually get common walnut as I like the color variations. It goes about $1.50 bdft. I do edge joint the wood to make 14" wide boards. Never had one come apart. I do watch where I put the joint. Going to 2" will increase the price, but you can still glue the edges.
    I would think this is better than face jointing 1x's together. Especially if you plan the joint just right.
    As for pine at the mill, I think it's about $2.00-$2.25 a bdft for 8/4 board. Anything over 10" adds a buck per bdft.
    Anyway, just my thoughts,


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Bradford, Vermont, MerryCanna.

    RE: Douglas Fir vs. Pine question

    Erik, my favorite word:

    "OR"... :)

    Doug fir is some neat stuff to work with. It's strong, it's straight, it's tough. It's gotta' be to make a doug fir tree look like a doug fir tree. Me, I'd rather do the whole thing in doug fir than in pine.

    You won't have a lot of luck getting color matches between the douglas fir & the select pine; they just won't look like they came from the same kinda' tree.

    Doug fir's plenty good for makin' what you're makin', I think. It's one of the harder softwoods, and I think it'll do ya.

    -- Tim --

    It's a bird!
    It's a plane!
    It's Supe...
    No, it's a bird.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Cedar Park, TX, US of A.

    RE: Douglas Fir vs. Pine question

    Even within the true "pines" there is a lot of hardness differentiation, and, like Timmer said, doug fir is a pretty hard, strong wood. Doug fir is one of the few coniferous trees that is hard enough to use on a real neander bench top.

  5. #5

    RE: Douglas Fir vs. Pine question

    Guys, thanks for all the replies. I have never really worked with any soft woods before, as I have always worked with Red Oak, Cherry, Maple of Walnut, so the whole soft wood idea was a new one to me.

    The douglas fir is so darn cheap, I guess I can always give it a shot and if it turns out crappy, put the money into some hardwood.

  6. #6

    RE: Douglas Fir vs. Pine question

    I have to agree with the other guys - D-Fir is nice stuff.

    I also replyed to your other post.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Gaylord, Michigan.

    RE: Douglas Fir vs. Pine question


    As a general rule, the firs are stronger and harder than the pines, the biggest exception being Longleaf Pine, commonly referred to as Southern Yellow Pine...

    Doug Fir is easily worked, though I would stay away from kiln dried stock; the tendancy is for the mills to "rush" the drying process. Case hardening and shakes are common. If you do go with #2 Common stock be carefull when selecting the boards as pitch pockets are common. Also select boards where the growth rings are as close to perpendicular to the faces as possible (vertical grain). Additionally, #2 Common is "dried" to about 18% moisture content, so stickering your boards until they reach equilibrium is a good idea.

    As someone alluded to, the properties of any species can vary. With Doug Fir this is also true. Coastal Doug Fir is the hardest, whilst Douglas Fir from the Interior South is the softest...Old growth Doug Fir is all but impossible to get now days, it's definetly the most desireable. If you can get a hold of reclaimed Doug Fir, go for it.

    The "second" growth DF that you see in the yards will have reddish heartwood with yellow sapwood and the contrast can be quite stunning if finished "natural", both tones "mellow" out over time.

    I wouldn't be too concerned about edge gluing; the adhesives we now have are so superior that, in most cases, the bond is stronger than the wood itself. The main thing is to make sure your stock has reached equilibrium before you start the project.

    One word of caution, if you do get a splinter in your hand remove it immediatly and disinfect the wound, you can get a pretty nasty infection if you don't. FWIW.



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