Douglas-Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Douglas-Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

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Common Name(s): Douglas-Fir

Scientific Name: Pseudotsuga menziesii

Distribution: Western North America

Tree Size: 200-250 ft (60-75 m) tall, 5-6 ft (1.5-2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 32 lbs/ft3 (510 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .45, .51

Janka Hardness: 620 lbf (2,760 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 12,500 lbf/in2 (86.2 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,765,000 lbf/in2 (12.17 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 6,950 lbf/in2 (47.9 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 4.5%, Tangential: 7.3%, Volumetric: 11.6%, T/R Ratio: 1.6

Color/Appearance: Can vary in color based upon age and location of tree. Usually a light brown color with a hint of red and/or yellow, with darker growth rings.  In quartersawn pieces, the grain is typically straight and plain. In flatsawn pieces, (typically seen in rotary-sliced veneers), the wood can exhibit wild grain patterns.

Grain/Texture: Grain is generally straight, or slightly wavy. Medium to coarse texture, with moderate natural luster.

Endgrain: Small to medium sized resin canals, infrequent and variable in distribution; solitary or in tangential groups of several; earlywood to latewood transition abrupt, color contrast high; tracheid diameter medium-large.

Rot Resistance: Douglas-Fir heartwood is rated to be moderately durable in regard to decay, but is susceptible to insect attack.

Workability: Typically machines well, but has a moderate blunting effect on cutters. Accepts stains, glues, and finishes well.

Odor: Has a distinct, resinous odor when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Douglas-Fir has been reported to cause skin irritation, nausea, giddiness, runny nose, along with an increased likelihood of splinters getting infected. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Should be widely available as construction lumber for a modest price. Old growth or reclaimed boards can be much more expensive.

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: Veneer, plywood, and structural/construction lumber.

Comments: Named after Scottish botanist David Douglas, (though the scientific name is in honor of Archibald Menzies, who first described the tree in the 1790s). Douglas-Fir is technically not a true Fir (Abies genus), but is in its own genus: Pseudotsuga.

The tree itself grows to be very large, and yields a large amount of usable lumber and veneer for plywood. It is an incredibly valuable commercial timber, widely used in construction and building purposes. The wood is very stiff and strong for its weight, and is also among the hardest and heaviest softwoods commercially available in North America.

The mechanical properties listed represent the average values from four regions: coastal, interior west, interior north, and interior south.

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:

Scans/Pictures:

Douglas-Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Douglas-Fir (sanded)

Douglas Fir (sealed)
Douglas-Fir (sealed)

Douglas-Fir (endgrain)
Douglas-Fir (endgrain)

Douglas-Fir (endgrain 10x)
Douglas-Fir (endgrain 10x)

Douglas-fir (quartersawn)
Douglas-fir (quartersawn)
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ken

I bought a heavy duty bunk bad which is supposed to be douglas fir. I noticed some of the larger pieces have the reddish look like those here, but some of the smaller(the slats) are more white in color, maybe like pine. How can I tell if the bed is all douglas fir…can douglas fir look whitish like pine? I honestly in retrospect don’t trust the company I bought from have had a hard time even getting the order…:>)

Gilman

Douglas Fir sapwood is whitish like pine. I wouldn’t be surprised that most of the 3/4″ x 3 1/2″ boards are mostly sapwood. Consider how a round log is converted into rectangular lumber. This is over simplified, but draw a circle and then draw the largest square inside it. You will have four arc/cord pieces and and one square. The four arc/cord pieces are mostly if not all sapwood. These pieces get resawn into thinner lumber.

Buzz

Does anyone know what is happening if my unfinished Fir wood gets speckles on it over time? I’m an artist and have used fir as a material for pyrography / woodburning images onto. One of my friends that owns a piece of mine showed me a picture of it with all these little speckles and are wondering if it’s mold. The piece didn’t have these speckles 4 years ago when I first made it. What’s the best way to treat this? I feel awful and am wondering if I need to switch to a new material and make a new… Read more »

Stuart R Snider

So many of these issues are affected by the sapwood:heartwood ratio in the fir piece used. Fir sapwood predominates through tree age 20 after which the proportion of heartwood increases. Heartwood is stronger and harder by more than 25%. When dried a piece 1″x2″x12″ placed vertically can support a weight of one ton! You should select the reddish heartwood fir studs when building a weight-bearing wall.

Matthew Niedbala

I’m jealous of these westerners and their perfect softwood…

Jeff Smith

14″x5 1/2″ Snare drum I made from Douglas Fir.

Charlotte

Such a gorgeous scandinavian style floor & our most popular floor… dubbed the world’s most beautiful floor…but the most problematic that we produce. Many people are unaware that Douglas Fir is a Softwood and will mark / dent easily..it also has a tendency to split and crack.

Alex

In my experience, density matters. If your growth rings are 1/4 inch each, its soft. We mill trees with 10 years to 1 inch of growth and they are hard and strong.

Graeme Sutherland

We can buy it straight from the forest for £35.00 per ton, in the Scottish highlands, an Artic lorry load is 38 ton.

john

Good Morning ,does anyone know how much weight can be put on a 1 and a half inch by 2 inch Pc. of doug fir 2 inch tall that is hanging over a metal frame 9 inches,I am wanting to do this for floor framing for my rv trailer 16 inch on center

pradeep kumar dawda

Than ks a very good information . it is very use ful in engeneering and construction parts

thx a lot
pradeep

Himanshu

Thanks for the information. I have read here https://www.urbandexterous.com/characteristics-of-douglas-fir-wood/ that it offers good struggle to splitting which makes it a good lateral holder of drilled objects. Is it true?

Shelley

I found that after burning this wood we, meaning my two Standard Poodles and me, couldn’t breath very well. I didn’t connect it soon enough to stop the effects of the difficulty to breathing and the couphing, until after a couple of days. I had to take my oldest, Cash, to the Vet and he had to go on medication. Cottonwood almost killed me a few years earlier when I burned it on a reguler basis. I now have found a couple of woods that my dogs and I can not use on a regular basis. I have found that… Read more »

maam2u

did you make sure it was very dry and well seasoned???? burning anything green or half green is bad for anyone and bad for the chimney (creosote).

Alex

do you burn it outdoors for a camp fire? If in a wood stove, consider checking your stove and pipes for leaks.