There are five major spruces in North America, with three of them growing in the eastern half of the USA and Canada.
These three, collectively called eastern spruce, are red spruce (Picea rubens), white spruce (P. glauca) and black spruce (P. mariana).
Red spruce is found primarily in New England, the Appalachians and eastern Canada, while white and black spruce is found in the Great Lakes, New England and eastern Canada.
The wood of these three spruces is impossible to separate visually once sawn into lumber. The properties of the three are also essentially identical.
Eastern spruce trees are usually not very large (seldom over 2 feet in diameter) and the lumber they produce often has many very small knots. The needles have been used for producing beer and tea. The roots were used by Native Americans for weaving baskets. The sap was reportedly used to develop chewing gum.
Spruce is known for its high strength compared to its weight. But the abundance of other softwood species with clearer wood in much of its growing area resulted in limited harvesting and manufacturing of eastern spruce lumber in the past.
In Colonial times, the wood was used for mast and spars; this use continues today for small sailing boats. Eastern spruce has been used and still is used for piano sounding boards, violins and other musical instruments due to its excellent resonance properties.
However, today, pulpwood is probably its number one use, followed by construction lumber, especially 2 x 4s and 2 x 6s, much of which is imported from Canada and is sold under the species grouping of SPF lumber (spruce, pine, fir). Yet this eastern spruce wood has potential for use in furniture and cabinets.
Its gluing, machining, stability and strength properties are ideal for such uses. Perhaps the only limiting factor is, because of past history of usage and processing into construction lumber; that is, it is hard finding mills that will saw 4/4 and know how to properly dry such wood for furniture.
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