Douglas fir typically grows from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast, and from British Columbia, Canada to Central California. Douglas fir is very hardy, and can survive in a wide verity of extreme climate conditions from below freezing temperatures in the winter to very hot temperatures in the summer. It grows in a wide range of altitudes from near sea level to10,000 feet. It thrives best in deep loam type soils that are moist and well drained.
The color of Douglas fir heartwood ranges from pale-yellow to reddish-brown. It has a fairly straight grain pattern, consisting of a medium open pore texture. Douglas fir averages 33 lbs/cu. ft. It is rated very high for bending strength, stiffness, and crushing strength. As a result, it is considered one of the strongest American softwoods. Also, it is classified as medium for hardness and shock resistance.
Douglas fir can be worked with power equipment without difficulty, but rates only average for hand tool use. It can be turned, but sharp tools are necessary to prevent tearing and splintering. Carving Douglas fir is not recommended. Although it is rated very high for bending strength, it is rated very low for steam bending qualities. Sanding can pose problems at times, due to splintering; especially on the corner edges. Douglas fir does not stain well due to uneven absorption of the stain. This occurrence is called blotching, and can be minimized by applying a shellac wash coat prior to staining. It does accept clear finishes and paint without problems.
Wood Species Index
Douglas fir is mainly used for construction lumber and timbers for houses and other buildings using structural framing. It is made into plywood for wall and roof sheathing, as well as for sub-flooring material. Other uses include doors, windows, sashes, and moldings. This wood is typically not used for furniture or decorative purposes because there are many other wood species that possess more desirable qualities for those types of projects.