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Author Topic: Norway Spruce  (Read 5208 times)

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Offline Jeff

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Norway Spruce
« on: January 09, 2001, 02:01:44 pm »
Albert writes:

I have 20 acres of mature norway spruce trees. my question is, do they have any value and what are they mainly used for?

Thankyou for your time, albert
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2001, 06:21:06 pm »
Norway spruce is not native to North America, it is a European species. It is most used as a common ornamental. It has been used in plantations in the East where it grows more rapidly than the native species such of white or red spruce. It has some timber value depending upon its size, but is most suitable for diversity in the landscape with its drooping foliage for aesthetics, windbreaks, and wildlife thermal and escape cover. The resinous bark exudations furnish the so called Burgundy pitch which is the basic material for a number of varnishes and medicinal compounds. The new leafy shoots are often used in brewing spruce beer.  
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2001, 05:58:32 pm »
The only use that I have seen for Norway spruce is for local construction lumber.  I know of no other market.

I have sawn a handfull of Norway spruce.  It is hard to saw, due to all the knots.  A slower feed rate is needed to saw straight lumber.  

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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2001, 06:53:03 pm »
The trees transplant well with the "tree spade". I had a client who didn't want to wait for the young trees to grow-up so he had a tree company come in and transplant about a dozen large trees,4-6" diameter class, from his outlying forest stand of Norway spruce, and relocate them in front of his cabin for an aesthetic screen, windbreak, and wildlife cover and travel corridor. After 4 years they all are still doing well and serving the purpose intended. They added an attractive landscape.  
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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2001, 08:12:54 am »
Hey Ron What I'm wanting to do is build cover for the deer on my place. I had ten acres cut this June-July and some of the new popple growth is almost five foot high now. I have one area about acre and a half that has no popple coming cause it had all oaks there that were mature that the wood cutters took. I was thinking about red pines and white spruce but was told by a fellow that the deer will eat the white spruce. Should I go with red pines and norways instead or do you have some other mixture that would come up faster and provide better cover?   thanks.......marty

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2001, 12:25:22 pm »
Planting either red pine or white spruce would be good for the thermal and escape cover. With the new aspen growth nearby preferred by the deer, the conifers should be ok. They will also add some diversity to your landscape. You will need to keep your deer herd in check though.
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2001, 01:26:56 pm »
Marty, Let me know if you need help with that last bit of advice from Ron!  :)

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marty

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2001, 03:20:15 pm »
the only help I need is to find some deer and turn loose on my place. LOL  I'm in the famous dmu 452. With four years of unlimited doe permits the deer are far and few between. I just trying to make my place the hotel Hilton for the few deer that's left. If this winter keeps on pace we won't have to worry about keeping the deer in check mother nature will do it for us Thanks for all the info.......marty

Offline Bill Johnson

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2001, 07:19:19 am »
Marty, I have a question, why wouldn't you consider planting/transplanting white cedar for the deer. Would they not provide better thermal cover than spruce or pine, as they grew older and couldn't they be used as a supplemental food source for the deer?
Bill

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2001, 05:00:49 pm »
My bud gave me some to try and the deer thought they were better than steak to us. Just looking for something for cover so far they left my pines alone.......marty

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2001, 09:38:12 am »
Yes, deer are a major problem in trying to regenerate northern white cedar, a favorite food source. Even sapling and pole size trees will have a high browse line.
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Offline Guitar maker

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2017, 12:14:30 pm »
Norway spruce is Pinea albies, the same species as one of the most profitable timbers known to man, though I can't say if the resulting lumber is equal or not to various European stands of Picea albies.

If the American grown trees are anything like the lumber from the same species grown in Europe, then the actual value of the lumber could be far higher than most are imagining. To buy the same species as "German spruce" from Bavarian suppliers I would pay between $40 and $120 (US) for enough spruce to make the soundboard for just one guitar. Now, for that price it's air dried, it's got about 10+ annular growth rings per inch in the best part of the soundboard, though it may often run to only 8 at the other edge of the board, it's a book matched pair from a flitch of exactly quarter-sawn spruce measuring about 8 x 21 inches -- free of knots or any deformities within the outline of the guitar soundboard template, and each piece is cut to about 1/8" thickness before being sold to the guitar maker. In 2017 it's worth more with "bear claw" figuration, but when I bought this spruce in 1977 that was still somewhat undesirable.

 I think it is worth exploring to see how they cut it in the soundboard industry, and if they have the same problems with wavy cuts. The last time I visited a commercial soundboard mill was in the early 1980s outside Hinsdale NH. Since soundboard manufacture and forestry is a national industry in Germany, Switzerland, and the Italian alps, I suspect they have brought this to a level of art we could learn from to our advantage. There is already a well established soundboard industry in North America for western red cedar and sitka.  These are the people who can help evaluate American grown Picea abies.

One thing I know: the 30 ft. trees in my yard with 14" diameter trunks won't be ready for soundboard lumber in my lifetime. They are growing much too quickly still.  I leave them for the next generations and pray they won't be sold for framing lumber. I did not know they were "European Spruces" until a fellow guitar maker pointed out that his parents had Norway spruce that had become giants.  Mine are only about 25 years old. Then I did a little research and found that the wood that gives my $50,000 European piano its soul, and which I built most of my classical guitars from, is growing not 30 feet from my workshop. (I only built one guitar from sitka and never repeated that blunder, though it seems to work well enough for mid level steel string guitars.) Western red cedar, on the other hand, was, and still is, a first choice for several  makers. Today, a guitar built correctly from Picea abies sells in the neighborhood of $5000 - $20,000 depending on the maker. A concert grand piano with a soundboard made from the same lumber starts at $100,000.  Like I said, this lumber, when managed and allowed to mature, provided the growing conditions are favorable, can be highly profitable.

 Meanwhile, the Steinway Piano company, having run out of the eastern white spruce from Vermont and Maine that made it's pianos famous around the world between 1840 and 1940, turned to Sitka as a second choice because of availability and consistent supply. Its German counterpart in Hamburg builds the European Steinways out of Picea abies. Many of us feel the German Steinways are far better sounding instruments and we suspect it is for this reason. My own instrument was built from a type of European spruce growing near Siberia. That forest is gone and now that workshop uses wood from Germany where soundboard forests are regulated like a Swiss watch. The key to preference for growth in colder regions is that makers believe very tight annular rings are essential for the best sound. I am not as convinced. Among the most prized guitars made by Antonio Torres, similar in value in the guitar world to a Stradivarius, soundboard grain can run at a much more modest 6-10 rings per inch. My Siberian spruce piano however runs from 12 at the widest up to somewhere around 40 rings per inch --it's almost impossible to count them at that point. That is almost true for my guitar lumber grown in the alps.

  For classical guitars, violins, cellos, and pianos, Picea abies has been the soundboard wood of choice for hundreds of years. I hope this potential and the vast reward both financially and artistically are fully explored. After all, Steinway pianos is located in NY along with the large forest of "Norway" Spruce planted by the state in the 1930s. I suspect this was part of the plan at the time, as this was exactly when they were running short on eastern white spruce. Possibly this was forgotten long ago?

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Offline Guitar maker

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2017, 12:26:29 pm »
See below for an edited version

Offline Guitar maker

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2017, 12:30:24 pm »
For an interesting documentary on the making of a concert grand piano and the harvesting of soundboards I recommend several documentaries. Although Italian maker Fazioli uses red spruce from the same forest that Stradivarius used, the documentary is excellent. Most other high end makers use Pinea albies (aka Norway, German, or European spruce).   I would post the link, but am new here and not sure if this violates the rules as these documentaries are intended to promote the pianos, not the forests. A google search of youtube will find the 28 minute documentary as well as others on piano making. There are hundreds on high end guitar making that show all the features and the techniques used in making soundboards for classical guitars. I hope others will continue to explore mature Norway spruce as having a potentially far higher value to instrument makers. I would certainly be very happy to use it for framing.

Offline Don P

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Re: Norway Spruce
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2017, 09:52:53 pm »
That is very interesting. My experience with the wood is as imported framing lumber, a much different animal than the fine old growth instrument stock you have dealings with. It first began appearing around 2000 and it didn't get rave reviews. It runs about 20% weaker than SPF lumber in comparable grade and caused some problems. Blueprints in the US typically specify #2 SPF or better for most spans unless they need something stronger. When it first hit the market it was unwittingly interchanged with SPF and out of ignorance still often is, which makes for overspanned members. Our building inspector passed out a paper at the time letting us know he would reject framing or require an engineer to sign off if he found it used out of spec. It is also more brittle and tends to split much more often when nailing near the ends. I've had a ceiling joist break underfoot as I was working on a porch roof where the same dimension/span in SPF or SYP has never done this. What we see is obviously plantation grown, fast rotation, small diameter stock full of compression wood. Similar complaints to SYP we get grown under the same conditions but weaker and more brash, so I'm not a fan. Typically domestic grading approval was through the WWPA who underwrote European grading for our markets, the same folks that slip SPF(S) into the framing lumber stream. You can find some info and excuses for it on their website. It is exceptionally well manufactured and pretty, they do a fine job machining it. Domestically grown NS from the US and Canada has been working its way through the grading approvals process with the ALSC, American Lumber Standards Committee, and it will be entering the framing market in greater quantities in the near future... not that architects and engineers know or are preparing for this yet. It is a setup for more callbacks and lawsuits in the not too distant future I fear. This is the framing lumber end of that species. It is good to hear about the finer examples of the species.