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Hi all,

Does anyone have any experience with the use of Sitka Spruce for ship modelling?

I have the opportunity to buy the attached pieces but according to the Janka Hardness Scale it appears to be only slightly harder than Pine and possibly too soft for ship modelling: https://www.wood-database.com/sitka-spruce/

I have not been able to see the pieces in person as they are interstate.




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Sitka spruce is highly sought after wood for sail boat masts by  contemporary wooden boat builders

and was in use for years before the fiberglass era.The wood is light and strong and easily worked with

sharp tools and saw dust is nonirritating. Takes varnish well with slight darkening,would assume it to take 

paint as well. Not sure how it would take to sharpe bends. Works well for sailing dinghies  and have never seen one

fail. Believe it would make a good modeling as it is light and easily worked in areas where a light color is wanted.

Sitka spruce only grows in the Pacific Northwest and into Alaska, hense its name,  and is relatively rare. Curious

as to how it ended up in Australia, must be a story there. Envious of your find.

Bridgman Bob

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8 hours ago, druxey said:

A wonderful  specie for musical instrument sound-boards, but too soft and grainy for model-making purposes. Also, becoming rare to obtain and, therefore, expensive.

Agree.  Spruces all have a definite late-wood "line" with a softer early-wood between.  The wood has a high strength to weight ratio, hence the use in spars and airplanes, but only if the grain is straight and the edges of the board are parallel to the grain (no grain angle or run-out).  

Some sawmills in my area ( British Columbia, Canada) are still occasionally cutting Sitka spruce, but mostly for Asian markets, which are willing to pay high $.  Logs that meet the standards for a Japanese temple log can sell for $30,000.   A wedge for making cello backs sold for $130 (20 years ago!).  


As to how the sample ended up in Australia, there has long been a export trade from British Columbia and Alaska with Australia.  Direct delivery by ship.

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Many years ago following retirement my father joined an EAA club who were building an airplane.  Although the fuselage was welded tubular steel, the wings were fabric covered wood frame.  My father had experience with this type of construction so he agreed to build the wings.  The FAA specs required the spars to be made from clear straight grained Sitka Spruce.  He located  company that made ladders for Fire Departments.  These ladders that had to be light, strong, and I suppose non-conducting and were, therefore, made from Sitka Spruce.  He bought the spar material from them.  


Just a story.  I’m not suggesting ladder manufacturers As a lumber source!



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Thank you all for your replies.


In the photo of the Sikta Spruce the colour and lack of figure looked very appealing but it sounds like its softness is an issue. For that reason I'll give it a miss.


It caught my eye initially as in the photo it very closely resembled my very limited supplies of Swiss pear (photo attached) which I will use for my hull planking (under the waterline) very shortly.


Unfortunately, I have not been able to find an Australian species of wood that very closely resembles pear.



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