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SPRUCE, SITKA

Picea sitchensis


A NOTE ABOUT SPRUCE SPECIES IN THE USA



Picea sitchensis of the family Pinaceae, the pine family

Although generally very bland in appearance, the natural resonance qualities of sitka spruce make it an ideal choice for musical instrument soundboards, along with Engelmann spruce.

Sitka spruce is one of the few woods (along with maple and Ponderosa pine) that sometimes exhibit what is called "bear claw" figure. This is relatively faint lines in the face grain caused by what is known as "indented grain" (NOT by actual bear claw marks). In sitka spruce, unlike in maple and Ponderosa pine, the bearclaw "scratches" wander all over the face rather than go mostly straight up and down with the grain.

In my own somewhat limited experience, I have found that this wood is far more often presented in quartersawn or rift cut form rather than flat cut, but that may be because mostly I have seen it as tone wood and that always seems to be quartersawn so as to have a uniform straight grain.



my samples:


both sides of a sample plank of sitka spruce / Picea sitchensis


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of sitka spruce / Picea sitchensis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above. The closeup pic has a pink tint that is not in the wood


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of s sitka spruce sample plank represented to me as a "burl" but it looks more like a near-crotch area. HUGE enlargements are present. The first pic is of a 320-grit sanded surface and the 2nd is of a 120-grit sanded surface.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above. The darker streak through the middle of the closeup is an area that did not get as well sanded as the rest of the piece.


first face and the end grain of a sample of sitka spruce / Picea sitchensis which has indented grain. This part of a collection which is discussed here: COLLECTION A


the second face, before and after sanding, showing how the patina from aging is only surface deep.


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above. Note the indented grain


The Wood Book pics


tideland spruce (Picea sitchensis) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for all 3 views



web pics:


sitka spruce planks


planks listed as sitka spruce / Picea sitchensis --- none of these were listed as figured but a couple of them are.


plank listed as silver spruce / Picea sitchensis


planks of bearclaw sitka spruce / Picea sitchensis --- see the note about bear claw figure at the top of the page


sitka spruce veneer


sitka spruce bearclaw veneer


sitka spruce guitar back


sitka spruce guitars


sitka spruce guitar front --- very nicely photographed by the owner/maker, S.R. Murthy, whom I thank for the contribution to the site. Enlargements are present.


guitar and two guitar backs, all of bearclaw sitka spruce / Picea sitchensis


two views of a guitar front of bookmatched bearclaw sitka spruce with a particularly strong bearclaw figure


bearclaw spruce guitar built by Gregory Pizzaeck whom I thank for the pic. I ASSUME this is sitka spruce, since as far as I'm aware, that't the only variety that has the bearclaw figure.


10" diameter sitka spruce bowl by Steve Earis, big enlargements available