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  • sunkawakan

    hello,to all of you I will be moving to anchorage-matsu area next summer 09,and i amplanning to build a log-timber house for my family .can any members of the forum knows about wood quality in ak? any possible adress to buy good quality logs ,is there any program to harvest trees from the national forest .thank for your reply

  • #2
    Quality house logs are a well guarded secret in Alaska Drop Vince a PM, he was/is a log builder.

    The hardest thing with using Alaskan timber for timber framing is the huge twists many Alaskan spruce logs have in them. Your only other choice is birch for timber framing. Native Alaskan birch and spruce have been used with limited success by a couple of my contractor customers. Many times they end up buying quality doug fir from the Northwest and have it shipped up.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    • #3
      There are some programs to cut beetle killed spruce, though it is mostly for firewood. There certainly are some trees that would be suitable for milling into timbers. The standing dead trees are fairly well seasoned, so the checking and twisting will have already taken place. But with the heavy winds we've had, most of those trees have been blown down and once they hit the ground and get soaked by rain and snow they begin to rot out.

      It all comes down to transportation costs and your time to get the trees out of the woods to your vehicle, and the value of your time. There are sources of logs for log homes, and mills that cut them 3 side square, and I can't see why they couldn't make them 4 sided.

      One concern is the size of timbers you'll need. I don't think you'll have a problem finding 8X8's, but if you need 12X12's you might have a tougher time. There are a few timber framers in Anchorage, might be worth while contacting them about the availability and cost of timbers.
      Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

      If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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      • #4
        We have thousands of large spruce logs all decked along the Hope Road. The Chugach National Forest has a Fire mitigation program, and they pay professional logging companies to fell, limb, and deck-up logs for sale. These were standing dry spruce that go to 40" at the butt, however most are around 30" at the butt.
        "Life Is Either a Daring Adventure or Nothing" - Helen Keller

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        • #5
          sunk,

          I am going to advice you against it. Spruce bark beetles are a serious issue up here. As well as those nasty wood ants. Also the wood from these trees is very soft, you can actually use your nail and take off the bark. There are some areas in Alaska you can get some nice trees but it will cost you to get them shipped/delivered.

          Haines has HUGE trees (much like Hope) but aren't as infested with spruce bark and they are not as twisted like Doug says. Only problem is it is very wet in that area so you will need to find someone to pressure treat the wood. Or you will need to let them dry for about a year before using them.

          I actually had a friend who went to BC and got some of the nice large trees (do not know which type), and the comapny shaved off the bark and pre-treated it then had it shipped into Alaska via semi.

          It depends on what you want. But I would check around and not use the trees in the Matsu area.

          Also there are these nasty (very gross looking) bugs that canvas a spruce. I wish I could remember the name. But my point is that if you see them and they have this odd, quite spooky looking, web in the tree and these large looking catapillars in the web. You do not want any of the spruce in that area. If you see one of these trees, more then likely it may have gotten to the others. I seriously looks like a halloween joke until you see the bugs moving. Yuck.

          Good luck!
          No amount of education can help those who want to remain permanently ignorant of facts, which includes those whom have been educated.

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          • #6
            sunkawakan

            upinak,
            tk for advise,you mention barkbeetles and wood ants;when the trees are logged,and put to dry; what is the best protection to avoid these pests?

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            • #7
              Pressure treating them, somehow. Spruce isn't great to do that with... but if you do, find someone who can. I do not know of anyone here in Anchroage.

              Also tarring the ends of the trunks of the trees can help. But depending how dry it gets in the winter.. the trees can still split and you will have to redo the tar.

              I would go with a stick frame cabin. At least you won't have the same headaches. But if you must have a log house, get them from another location.

              Originally posted by sunkawakan View Post
              upinak,
              tk for advise,you mention barkbeetles and wood ants;when the trees are logged,and put to dry; what is the best protection to avoid these pests?
              No amount of education can help those who want to remain permanently ignorant of facts, which includes those whom have been educated.

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              • #8
                Spruce bark beetles move on after the tree is felled and dead. In fact, they move on even if the tree is dead and standing. There is NO issue with spruce bark beetle killed trees. What IS an issue is rot. Inspect logs carefully before purchasing spruce.

                Ditto goes for carpenter ants. They cannot eat or live in wood that is below 19% moisture. Get the logs peeled and dry off the ground and they will not be an issue either. If there are no ants in the log pile you are buying from you are not likely to have any issues.

                Once a log is peeled you can easily see how much twist is in it. The most successful timber framed places I have seen using native logs have kept the logs in the round and cut flats for the knee braces and other joints.

                Peeling bark with your finger nail has nothing to do with the softness of a tree. White spruce and Sitka spruce are both soft trees. They are suitable for all kinds of building as long as you engineer accordingly.

                Only problem is it is very wet in that area so you will need to find someone to pressure treat the wood. Or you will need to let them dry for about a year before using them.
                Pressure treating refers to taking lumber or logs and immersing them in chemicals forcing the chemicals to penetrate. The nearest mill for this is in B.C. You would NOT want to do this for timber frame timbers or house logs. There are products that you can coat logs with after you peel that will protect the white look. Several builders I know shy away from using it because they are afraid that it might affect finish adheasion in the future. One of the guys I know uses Sashco Log Keeper and likes it.

                I can put you in contact with a professional certified forester if you like. He could help you locate house logs and such when the time comes. Just PM me for his number.
                Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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                • #9
                  Doug don't forget that the beetles take 3 yrs to eat thru a tree before they move on. Nasty little bugs. And in some cases you won't see the larva even if you check.
                  No amount of education can help those who want to remain permanently ignorant of facts, which includes those whom have been educated.

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                  • #10
                    Those aren't spruce bark beetles. Like carpenter ants, most boring beetles need wood that is wet to get nutritional value out of it. As long as I have lived in Alaska and been in the building industry I haven't seen any bad cases of boring beetles in house or saw logs at all.

                    I once had a bundle of 2x8x18 spruce boards that were wrapped, but the wrapper leaked from a rip in the rear. They were infested with carpenter ants when I opened the wrapper. However, they were only eating the wet boards. The 2/3's of the bundle that was relatively dry under the wrapper was untouched. I removed the wrapper and allowed the wood to dry in the sun for a week. The ants left as the wood dried.

                    Carpenter ants in your home, whether it be log or stick frame, are indicators that you have a moisture problem somewhere and it needs to be fixed.
                    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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                    • #11
                      Recently I was looking for some timbers for budgeting purposes and came accross this company: http://www.valleysawmill.com/

                      My cabin project has only gone as far as getting supply pricing to see if I can afford to do it this year!

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                      • #12
                        sunkawakan

                        tk for all your good advises;so if I understand well spruce can be ok if under 19% humidity lower is better,treat the wood, the end of the log to limit splinting; upinak mention getting the logs from BC ! any wood species you would recommend? any feed back on the putting together of the logs ,I mean the lifting process better to rent a small crane or buy a used lifting truck /I feel I am getting mini seminars from all of you ;I do appreciate my learning from you ,thanks again

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                        • #13
                          There are some excellent books on timber frame building, pick some up if you haven't already.

                          As far as lifting the bents, it depends on how heavy they are, and the location of the property. I'd say the cost of hiring a crane and professional riggers for a day would be well worth the cost to keep from killing yourself or others with a jerry rigged lift that is not up to the task.

                          But, if you are in a location where you can't drive a crane in, you'll have to improvise.
                          Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

                          If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sunkawakan View Post
                            tk for all your good advises;so if I understand well spruce can be ok if under 19% humidity lower is better,treat the wood, the end of the log to limit splinting; upinak mention getting the logs from BC ! any wood species you would recommend? any feed back on the putting together of the logs ,I mean the lifting process better to rent a small crane or buy a used lifting truck /I feel I am getting mini seminars from all of you ;I do appreciate my learning from you ,thanks again
                            Keep us posted if you do start building. I am very interested in timber frame and would like to help if I can just to learn.

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                            • #15
                              I know for a fact the Haines trees are good and from what I've seen the Wrangell trees are good also. Helped mill a many a Haines tree and never saw any bug problems. To use fewer trees and have less lifting weight you can cut the logs in half useing the flat for the inside.
                              Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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