Sitka Spruce

Common Name(s): Sitka Spruce

Scientific Name: Picea sitchensis

Distribution: Northwestern North America

sitka-spruce 600 x 600.jpg

Color/Appearance: Ranges from cream/white to yellow; heartwood can also exhibit a subtle pinkish red hue in some instances. Sapwood not clearly demarcated from heartwood. Some pieces can exhibit a special grain pattern called bearclaw—vaguely resembling the scratches of a bear’s claws.

Grain/Texture: Sitka Spruce has a fine, even texture, and a consistently straight grain.

Endgrain: Medium sized resin canals (larger than other spruce), sparse to numerous and variable in distribution; solitary or in tangential groups of several; earlywood to latewood transition gradual, color contrast medium; tracheid diameter medium-large.

Workability: Easy to work, as long as there are no knots present. Glues and finishes well, though it can give poor  (blotchy and inconsistent) results when being stained due to its closed pore structure. A sanding sealer, gel stain, or toner is recommended when coloring Spruce.

Pricing/Availability: Construction grade spruce is cheap and easy to find. However, old growth and/or quartersawn clear pieces—free from knots—can be more expensive. Quartersawn billets of instrument-grade Sitka Spruce can easily exceed the cost of most all domestic hardwoods in terms of per board-foot cost.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.

Common Uses: Lumber, boxes/crates, furniture, millwork, aircraft components, musical instrument soundboards, boatbuilding (masts and spars), wind turbine blades, and virtually any application where a wood material with a good strength-to-weight ratio is needed.

Comments: Sitka Spruce has an outstanding stiffness-to-weight ratio, and is available in large, straight-grained pieces, lending this timber to a wide range of commercial uses.