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Author Topic: Balsam (coastal amabalis) Lumber?  (Read 449 times)

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Offline quadracutter222

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Balsam (coastal amabalis) Lumber?
« on: July 21, 2021, 03:13:09 PM »
Hi folks, hope all is well, and you are staying cool and safe. (especially people facing another bad fire season, BC's interior is just nuts right now)

I have about 1800-2000 bf yield in balsam fir logs, and am scratching my head what to do with it.  I am looking though the search for Balsam Fir, but hoping someone might have some local knowledge or first had experience in the mean time.  Its all 18"-24" tops, nice tight grain second growth.



It does not have a great "on the ground, in a log" shelf life, so I would like to either saw it on speculation and sell it, or custom saw and sell it.  

I am really curious about its ability to be framing material ???, we are a bit gun shy of selling it as framing without knowing it is going to work out for folks.  We can be competitive with the hardware store prices and still come out ahead, but that is not really a fair comparison, as the big box stuff is kiln dried S4S, and this would be rough sawn, air dried or green.

Then there is the dilemma of what to saw it into, but I think 2x4 or 2x6 studs would sell either way.  Really what I need to understand is its usability for framing.

Offline Nebraska

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Re: Balsam Fir Lumber?
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2021, 03:26:47 PM »
Is it not a F species as in SPF or is that just Doug fir? I know nothing of this Balsam some times is  farm yard/ grove tree that I might get a hold  of. I am curious as well.

Offline PoginyHill

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Re: Balsam Fir Lumber?
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2021, 03:31:59 PM »
Balsam fir (Abies balsamea), red spruce, and white spruce are treated the same for purchasing and lumber use here in the northeast.
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Offline Mooseherder

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Re: Balsam Fir Lumber?
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2021, 04:07:37 PM »
I think the majority of the 2x4s coming out of Irving's mill in St. Leonard is Balsam Fir.
You see Irving's lumber at big orange.   I had a few loads mixed with spruce go there 2 years ago.  I'm using it in my builds.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Balsam Fir Lumber?
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2021, 05:41:02 PM »
Nothing wrong with it for lumber. But you're in BC, so your talking sub-alpine fir if your away from the coast. A different fir. Balsam fir is east of the Rockies. ;)
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Offline Don P

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Re: Balsam (coastal amabalis) Lumber?
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2021, 10:31:25 PM »
Amabalis Fir appears in 2 species groups although the second is the only one i see associated with design values, "Coast Species" and "Hem-Fir(North)" which includes Amabalis Fir/Western Hemlock. You can find the span tables at awc.org and it should be listed in their span calc. I've got the design values here if you need them as well.
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Offline quadracutter222

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Re: Balsam (coastal amabalis) Lumber?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2021, 12:54:36 AM »
Thanks for the information guys.

I found this website that had some interesting, (although I dont know what it all means yet) information.  

Structural, Aesthetic Properties and Common Uses of the Tree Species of British Columbia | naturally:wood |

It has testing parameters for soft and hardwood species.

I made up a table (attached) of the species that go into SPF, Hem-Fir, and Fir-L lumber, as well as some other local softwoods.  What I interpret from this table is on average amabalis fir or silver fir, is middle of the road between Fir-L lumber (having the highest properties) and SPF.  This makes me feel good about selling balsam for framing.

Some interesting information here also:
Hem & White Fir - Thompson River Lumber
https://www.weyerhaeuser.com/application/files/3115/3305/0229/LB-4011.pdf

Any other info, or first hand accounts appreciated!


Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Balsam (coastal amabalis) Lumber?
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2021, 05:06:06 AM »
When I worked in Coastal BC years ago as timber cruiser, it was common to call amabalis fir, 'balsam'. The symbol used by the Ministry of Forests was 'Ba'. Is it any wonder? Here in the east, 'Ba' is basswood, 'Bf' is balsam fir. There is a second eastern 'balsam', a sub species, Fraser Fir. Grows south of here, but common in Christmas tree farms up here, has no balsam smell. Some folks are allergic to the balsam smell itself. smiley_thumbsup
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Offline Don P

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Re: Balsam (coastal amabalis) Lumber?
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2021, 06:27:50 AM »
Common names can be troublesome. There's a bit over 5000 acres of Fraser Fir Christmas trees in the county here. I don't think I've ever heard it called balsam. There are balsam firs, remnant colonies of the eastern variety, up on the higher peaks.
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Offline Satamax

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Re: Balsam (coastal amabalis) Lumber?
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2021, 08:23:41 AM »
This stuff? 

Amabilis fir
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Balsam (coastal amabalis) Lumber?
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2021, 11:03:16 AM »
Common names can be troublesome. There's a bit over 5000 acres of Fraser Fir Christmas trees in the county here. I don't think I've ever heard it called balsam. There are balsam firs, remnant colonies of the eastern variety, up on the higher peaks.
It's definitely a sub species of balsam fir, abies balsamea var. fraseri . My cousins grow both, that is their livelihood. ;) At one time no distinction was made.

A bit of an old reference from McGraw-Hill's "Textbook of Dendrology": Robinson, J.F., and E. Thor, "Natural Variation in Abies of the Southern Appalachians". Forest Science 15: 238-245, 1969.
No amount of belief makes something a fact. James Randi

Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Balsam (coastal amabalis) Lumber?
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2021, 09:38:05 PM »
Common names can be troublesome. There's a bit over 5000 acres of Fraser Fir Christmas trees in the county here. I don't think I've ever heard it called balsam. There are balsam firs, remnant colonies of the eastern variety, up on the higher peaks.
They sure are like juniper being used to name Atlantic white cedar.


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