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Old 05-31-2009, 02:02 PM
Mith Mith is offline
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Default Larch

How good is larch in terms of rot resistance?

I'm picking up some big lumps of the stuff tomorrow (3' diameter I believe). I was going to split it for firewood, but I've thought of an experiment I would like to try.
No point in doing it if the wood is going to rot away in no time though.

I split up about 1/2 ton of the stuff on friday, boy was it full of sap. I'm guessing its going to be durable. Any ideas on how well it finishes (furniture grade finish?)
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Old 06-01-2009, 02:09 AM
EastTexFrank EastTexFrank is offline
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Mith, I've never used larch in any project but my understanding is that it's rot resistance is very good. There may be some difference between the British larch and the American but over here it was used in shipbuilding and for fence posts and telegraph poles so it's ground contact rot resistance must be pretty good.

I checked in my Wood magazines and there seems to be a couple of things that you might want to know about working with larch, depending on what project you have in mind.


"Larch is a softwood, yet it is about the hardest of all softwoods. That characteristic means you can successfully work it with hand or power tools, if you keep all tool cutting edges sharp.

Like many other softwoods, the resin or pitch in larch will build up on your saw blade. To avoid the burning and blade wander that accompany this buildup, always use a Teflon-coated blade or every so often stop and clean the blade with steel wool dampened with acetone.

Larch's straight grain, plus its hardness, gives it a tendency to splinter. A backing board reduces this when you rout cross-grain.

The hardness of larch requires drilling pilot holes for all nails and screws before assembly.

Except for the very highest appearance grades, larch boards will contain small, tight knots. These tend to blunt cutting edges, so use only carbide-tipped cutters and blades. You'll also want to seal the knots with shellac before applying a clear finish to prevent bleed-through.

The resin in larch reacts unfavorably with paint, unless you first seal the wood with diluted shellac or conditioner. Stain and clear finishes work well."



Hope this helps.
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Old 06-01-2009, 12:50 PM
Mith Mith is offline
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Thanks Frank. It sounds like it'll do nicely for what I have in mind. It wont be ground contact, but it'll be out in the weather. I'm hoping to wont crack too badly as it dries, but time will tell that.

I'll certainly agree with 'yet it is about the hardest of all softwoods', judging by its weight it must be a very dense wood.

Unfortunately I was beaten to the large bits, someone loaded the whole trunk to mill it into boards. I still managed to get one of the larger rounds, about 2.5' diameter, and some big chunks. Should be good enough for my experiment, but not what I was hoping for.

I will say though, it makes a great air freshener, it really does smell 'pine fresh' in my truck right now with 1/2 ton of this larch in the back!
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Old 06-10-2009, 10:29 PM
tinkertoys tinkertoys is offline
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OK! I will ask the dumb question, what is larch?
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Old 06-11-2009, 04:13 PM
EastTexFrank EastTexFrank is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinkertoys View Post
OK! I will ask the dumb question, what is larch?
It's a tree.
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Old 06-12-2009, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
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It's a tree.
Duh! I figgered that, but a little more detail would be nice.
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:22 PM
EastTexFrank EastTexFrank is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinkertoys View Post
Duh! I figgered that, but a little more detail would be nice.
Sorry about that mate. I thought it was just a general question. Now you've made feel like an idiot but then again, that's not hard to do.

From Wikipedia:

Larches are conifers in the genus Larix, in the family Pinaceae. They are native to much of the cooler temperate northern hemisphere, on lowlands in the far north, and high on mountains further south. Larches are among the dominant plants in the immense boreal forests of Russia and Canada.

They are deciduous trees, growing from 15-50 m tall. The shoots are dimorphic, with growth divided into long shoots typically 10-50 cm long and bearing several buds, and short shoots only 1-2 mm long with only a single bud. The leaves are needle-like, 2-5 cm long, slender (under 1 mm wide). They are borne singly, spirally arranged on the long shoots, and in dense clusters of 20-50 needles on the short shoots. The needles turn yellow and fall in the late autumn, leaving the trees leafless through the winter.

Larch cones are erect, small, 1-9 cm long, green or purple, ripening brown 5-8 months after pollination; in about half the species the bract scales are long and visible, and in the others, short and hidden between the seed scales. Those native to northern regions have small cones (1-3 cm) with short bracts, with more southerly species tending to have longer cones (3-9 cm), often with exserted bracts, with the longest cones and bracts produced by the southernmost species, in the Himalaya.


They're fairly common in the UK especially up north but, since they're a cooler weather tree and I'm in Texas I haven't seen any in quite a while.
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Old 06-13-2009, 12:24 PM
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Thanks a lot. I guess I could have done the search but never thought of it.
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