Species

Tamarack

(Larix laricina)
Sepcification sheet: Tamarack

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.

Color

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*
SpeciesPlaning good to excellentSanding excellentBoring brad point good to excellentBoring multiple spur good to excellentMortising fair to excellentShaping fair to excellentTurning fair to excellentAverage
Red pine8368968078729682
Yellow birch89529886567810080
Eastern white ceddar71941006856609878
Hard maple698298100385610078
Jack pine5784947662589475
Aspen744986698869675
Tamarack4984986466827274
White birch7089888667410072
Black spruce6652928052689071
Eastern white pine785210086245810071
Soft maple63409298425010069
Scots pine6640968036709469
Norway spruce6674965670585067
White spruce6752925044746263
Balsam fir4754946264525461
Sugi9166965424603060
Hemlock367294561866650

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

Standard dimensions available
THICKNESS BY WIDTH (LENGTH)
Imperial systemMetric system
Decking5/4’’ × 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)
Flooring4/4’’ × 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 timbers6’’ × 6’’ (16’)8’’ × 8’’ (16’)152,4 mm × 152,4 mm (4,88 m)203,2 mm × 203,2 mm (4,88 m)
Railroad ties7’’ × 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)
Shingles¾’’ × 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 bridges8’’ × 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 beams2’’ × 3’’ (3’ à 8’)50,8 mm × 76,2 mm (0,91 m à 2,44 m)
Mouldings1’’ × 2’’ (6’ à 10’)25,4 mm × 50,8 mm (1,83 m à 3,05 m)
Wood for boxes and crates4‘’ × 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 beds2’’ × 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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