old douglas fur

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Forum topic by paul burchell posted 11-28-2012 08:17 PM 1266 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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paul burchell

36 posts in 2590 days

11-28-2012 08:17 PM

Ive been fortunate to aquire several 100 ft of dougfur from a 60 ish year old church organ
I have never used this before and am not very knowledgeable of its strengths and weaknesses. Since my main woodworking focus is on small to med furniture pieces I question its structural integrity and will stir away from structural components but was thinking drawer boxes, maybe some small cabinet dovetailed carcass construction ,the obvious trim work since I have a 400 sq ft room I need to dress up. But since I have ran all the trim for 3 homes I dread that thought. But any how if any buddy has any thoughts I would love to hear

-- paul burchell

10 replies so far

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2141 days

#1 posted 11-28-2012 08:55 PM

Both of my workbenches have Douglas Fir legs and stretchers. It’s a nice stout wood. I can’t say I really like it overly much though. I’ve had issues with it being splintery. I’d say you could use it for carcass work pretty easily.


View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2627 days

#2 posted 11-28-2012 09:45 PM

Structural Integrity? People have used it to build decks, barns, and houses; not to mention furniture.
Its not hard maple, but its not sytrofoam either. I’d say that 60 yr old lumber is suitable for just about anything- as long as you like the look of the wood.

View John's profile


47 posts in 2068 days

#3 posted 11-28-2012 11:01 PM

Douglas Fir is interesting stuff. I just built us a new dining table from a combination of new and reclaimed Doug Fir. It’s a very strong wood, rating at or very near the top of all the code span tables for beams and floor joists, so you can use it for structural parts without fear. The floors in my century old house are Doug Fir (as is the framing) and it makes fine furniture, although it is tougher to work with than nice furniture woods like cherry or walnut. The main issue for me is that if you look at the growth rings, the lighter part (earlywood) is very soft compared to the latewood. This can cause all kinds of weirdness when planing (crazy tearout) or sanding (must use a hard block), especially with coarser-grained stuff. Planing end-grain can be a definite pain, and it does splinter like most conifer wood. It’s also a softer wood, so my floors get dents and so will things like table tops or corners, whereas oak or cherry would stand up much better. So it can be good for things like panels in a frame and panel construction.

View DocSavage45's profile


8549 posts in 2837 days

#4 posted 11-29-2012 01:25 AM

Wouldn’t use it for trim although old douglas Fir has a great red patina. Splintering as it dries, but yours is probably there.

As mentioned above it is high in tinsel strength. Might make prototypes out of it or primitive furniture?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View waho6o9's profile


8187 posts in 2572 days

#5 posted 11-29-2012 01:51 AM

I took apart 60 year Doug Fir entrance doors and sanded them down
to horse around with and it is good lumber to work with
and have around for small projects.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2685 days

#6 posted 11-29-2012 02:46 AM

I salvaged a bunch of doug fir 2×12s from my dad’s 53 year old barn and have made lots of chairs, boxes, etc from it. I floored my office and a room in my daughter’s house with it as well. The main problem I have had is finishing face grain as the early growth is Much softer than the old growth and is hard to sand evenly. I have had no problems with strength as long as I avoid the large knots. Stain a piece of this with Min Wax Gunstock for a really nice look. It is soft and will dent more easily than hardwoods.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3572 days

#7 posted 11-29-2012 04:20 AM

Doug fir is normally considered construction grade material, I have seen some flooring that was presentable . I say give it a go and and see what you think.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Tomj's profile


204 posts in 2376 days

#8 posted 11-29-2012 05:53 AM

In a soft wood like Douglas Fur the closer the growth rings are the denser/stronger it may be, in Hardwoods thicker growth summer wood rings usually means stronger. Old beams cut from old growth Douglas fur have been known to be stronger then from Doug fur cut from younger trees. Basically it seems in older growth Douglas Fur the growth rings become denser. The Douglas fur 2”by4”s cut today are not cut from old growth Douglas fur trees so if you have old enough Douglas fur cut from an old growth tree you just may have some okay wood to play with.

View djwong's profile


176 posts in 3214 days

#9 posted 11-29-2012 06:16 AM

Douglas fir has low surface hardness that can be easily damaged while working it. As others have mentioned, the difference in hardness between the early and late wood growth rings, can make working the wood tricky. Sharp tools are a must for morticing and planing. Score your cuts cross grain to prevent splintering. On the positive side, douglas fir has beautiful vertical grain and is a very stiff wood with great structural strength.

Here is a picture of a partially completed toolbox I am building. Sides are resawn douglas fir, no finish, with claro walnut as the contrasting wood.

-- David W. Cupertino, CA

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3888 days

#10 posted 11-29-2012 06:46 AM

where is the Ivory ?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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