Wood species

Tamarack

(Larix laricina)

Tamarack is a softwood species that belongs to the Pinacea family. It has the particularity of loosing its needles in fall, making it easily distinguishable in winter. This tree is found almost everywhere in Canada. Tamarack grows in association with black spruce, balsam fir, aspen and birch, mainly in poorly drained environments that make it a difficult species to harvest. It can reach 25 m in height, 50 cm in diameter and live 150 years. At the age of 30, this resinous species can yield up to 194 m³/ha. Its virtually rot-proof wood is ideal for outdoor use, not only as shingles, but also for patio furniture and decks. It is a very high quality wood that is handsome in appearance. The difference in colour between the tamarack’s earlywood and darker toned latewood creates an attractive striped pattern that makes for eye-catching furniture and finishing lumber.

Colour

Tamarack has yellowish-brown heartwood and somewhat whitish sapwood. Its annual growth rings are fairly easy to see and the transition from earlywood to latewood is abrupt. Outside in harsher weather conditions, the wood changes colour over time and turns silvery grey.

Texture

Tamarack is coarse-textured and often spiral-grained. The wood is more or less oily and somewhat waxy to the touch.

Qualities

The densest softwood in North America, tamarack has excellent dimensional stability and a good modulus of elasticity that is often comparable to that of hardwoods. It is very appreciated in structural applications, particularly for its high resistance to bending and compression. Easy to saw, its processing must take into account the possible presence of cross-grain and resin. Drying is also easy but slow. Nailing and screwing require pilot holes. Tamarack wood has strong mechanical properties with regard to bending and compression. Unlike several other species, it is highly resistant to rot and does not need chemical treatments.

Common applications

Roof shingles. Patio, deck and veranda wood. Bridges, piers and pilings. Posts and pickets. Mouldings and rosettes for indoor and outdoor use. Boats and covering for canoes. Flooring, decking and panelling. Garden furniture.

Machine properties in decreasing order of the overall performance of 17 species*
Species Planing
good to excellent
Sanding
excellent
Boring
brad point
good to excellent
Boring
multiple spur
good to excellent
Mortising
fair to excellent
Shaping
fair to excellent
Turning
fair to excellent
Average
Red pine 83 68 96 80 78 72 96 82
Yellow birch 89 52 98 86 56 78 100 80
Eastern White ceddar 71 94 100 68 56 60 98 78
Sugar maple 69 82 98 100 38 56 100 78
Jack pine 57 84 94 76 62 58 94 75
Trembling aspen 74 4 98 66 98 86 96 75
Tamarack 49 84 98 64 66 82 72 74
White birch 70 8 98 88 66 74 100 72
Black spruce 66 52 92 80 52 68 90 71
Eastern white pine 78 52 100 86 24 58 100 71
Red maple 63 40 92 98 42 50 100 69
Scots pine 66 40 96 80 36 70 94 69
Norway spruce 66 74 96 56 70 58 50 67
White spruce 67 52 92 50 44 74 62 63
Balsam fir 47 54 94 62 64 52 54 61
Sugi 91 66 96 54 24 60 30 60
Eastern hemlock 36 72 94 56 18 66 6 50

* Values are the pourcentage of tested specimens reaching the indicated performance.

Standard dimensions available
THICKNESS BY WIDTH (LENGTH)
Imperial system Metric system
Decking 5/4’’ × 6’’ (6’ à 16’)
6/4’’ × 6’’ (6’ à 16’)
31,8 mm × 152,4 mm (1,83 m à 4,88 m)
38,1 mm × 152,4 mm (1,83 m à 4,88 m)
Flooring 4/4’’ × 4’’ (4’ à 8’)
4/4’’ × 6’’ (4’ à 8’)
25,4 mm × 101,6 mm (1,22 m à 2,44 m)
25,4 mm × 152,4 mm (1,22 m à 2,44 m)
Mine timbers 6’’ × 6’’ (16’)
8’’ × 8’’ (16’)
152,4 mm × 152,4 mm (4,88 m)
203,2 mm × 203,2 mm (4,88 m)
Railroad ties 7’’ × 9’’ (6’ à 8’)
4’’ × 6’’ (6’ à 8’)
177,8 mm × 228,6 mm (1,83 m à 2,44 m)
101,6 mm × 152,4 mm (1,83 m à 2,44 m)
Shingles ¾’’ × 4’’ (10’)
¾’’ × 5’’ (10’)
¾’’ × 6’’ (10’)
¾’’ × 7’’ (10’)
19,1 mm × 101,6 mm (3,05 m)
19,1 mm × 127,0 mm (3,05 m)
19,1 mm × 152,4 mm (3,05 m)
19,1 mm × 177,8 mm (3,05 m)
Structural elements for bridges 8’’ × 10’’ (40’)
6’’ × 6’’ (12’)
8’’ × 8’’ (12’)
203,2 mm × 254,0 mm (12,20 m)
152,4 mm × 152,4 mm (3,66 m)
203,2 mm × 203,2 mm (3,66 m)
Glulam beams 2’’ × 3’’ (3’ à 8’) 50,8 mm × 76,2 mm (0,91 m à 2,44 m)
Mouldings 1’’ × 2’’ (6’ à 10’) 25,4 mm × 50,8 mm (1,83 m à 3,05 m)
Wood for boxes and crates 4‘’ × 4’’ (4’)
4’’ × 6’’ (4’)
101,6 mm × 101,6 mm (1,22 m)
101,6 mm × 152,4 mm (1,22 m)
Edge-glued lumber for trailer beds 2’’ × 3’’ (32’’ à 10’)
2’’ × 4’’ (32’’ à 10’)
2’’ × 6’’ (32’’ à 10’)
50,8 mm × 76,2 mm (0,81 m à 3,05 m)
50,8 mm × 101,6 mm (0,81 m à 3,05 m)
50,8 mm × 152,4 mm (0,81 m à 3,05 m)

Net dimensions may vary depending on the producer. Other dimensions produced upon request.

Note: When tamarack is marketed as dimension or structural lumber, its quality is determined by the National Lumber Grades Authority (NLGA) and bears the stamp of the Northern Species group – N. Species, or of the Eastern Hemlock-Tamarack group – Hem-Tam (N) (NLGA 2005, paragraphs 121, 124, 130 and 131).

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