This section is from the book "A Treatise On Architecture And Building Construction Vol2: Masonry. Carpentry. Joinery", by The Colliery Engineer Co. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise On Architecture And Building Construction.
41. White pine, commonly known as pine, or sometimes referred to as northern pine, to distinguish it from the species described below, is a tree common in the northern part of the United States and in Canada. It furnishes a light, soft, and straight-grained wood of a yellowish color, but is not as strong as other woods of the same class, and in building is used, principally, as a finishing material, where a good, durable, but inexpensive job is required. As a material for patternmaking it has no equal, and its power of holding glue renders it invaluable to the cabinetmaker and joiner.
42. Georgia pine, also known as hard pine, pitch pine, and occasionally as long-leafed pine, which is, in reality, the best name for it, is a large forest tree growing along the southern coast of the United States, from Virginia to Texas, and extending only about 150 miles inland. Its annual rings are smaller than those of the white pine, and have a dense, dark colored and resinous summer growth, which gives the wood a well marked grain.
The wood is heavy, hard, strong, and, under proper conditions, very durable. For heavy framing timbers and floors it is most desirable, and on account of its grain is sometimes used for the trim of unimportant rooms. It rapidly decays in a damp location, and, therefore, cannot be used for house sills, or as sleepers or posts which are in contact with the ground, but if situated in a dry, well ventilated place, it will remain practically unchanged for over a century.
Great care should always be exercised in specifying work to be done with Georgia pine, as in many localities this wood is confused with another material variously known as Carolina pine, yellow pine, and southern pine, which is greatly-inferior to it in every respect.
The Carolina pine is not a long-leafed pine at all, and is neither as strong nor as durable as the Georgia pine. In appearance it is somewhat lighter than the long-leafed pine, and the fiber is softer and contains less resin than the regular hard, or pitch, pine.
43. Spruce is a name given to all the wood furnished by the various species of the spruce fir tree. There are four varieties of the wood, known as black spruce, white spruce, Norway spruce, and single spruce. Black spruce grows in the northern half of the United States and throughout British America. Its wood is light in weight, reddish in color, and though easy to work, is very tough in fiber and highly desirable for joists, studs, and general framing timber. It is also greatly used for piles and submerged cribs and cofferdams, as it not only preserves well under water, but also resists the destructive action of parasitic Crustacea, such as barnacles and mussels, longer than any other similar wood.
44. White spruce is not so common as the above described variety, though when sawed up into lumber it can scarcely be distinguished from it. Its growth is confined to the extreme northern part of the United States and to British America.
Norway spruce is a variety growing in central and northern Europe and in northern Asia, and its tough, straight grain makes it an excellent material for ships, masts, spars, etc., as well as the more ordinary purposes of house building.
Under the name of white deal it fills the same place in the European woodworking shops as white pine does in America.
Single spruce grows in the central and the western part of the United States. It is lighter in color, but otherwise its properties are similar to the black and the white spruce.
45. Hemlock is similar to spruce in appearance, though much inferior as a building material. The wood is very brittle, splits easily, and is very liable to be shaky. Its grain is coarse and uneven, and though it holds nails much more firmly than does pine, the wood is generally soft and not durable.
Some varieties of it are better than others, but in commerce they are so mixed that it is difficult to obtain a large quantity of even quality. Hemlock is used almost exclusively as a cheap, rough-framing timber.
46. white cedar is a soft, light, fine-grained, and very durable wood, but lacks both strength and toughness. Its durability makes it a desirable material for shingles, and also for tanks in which water is stored, and these are about the only purposes for which it is used in house building, though it is used largely for other purposes, such as boat-building, cigar-box manufacture, and cooperage.
47. Red cedar is a smaller tree than white cedar, and of much slower growth. The wood is very similar in texture to white cedar, but even more compact and durable. It is of a reddish-brown color, and possesses a strong, pungent odor, which repels insects. Its extreme durability makes it valuable for posts, sills, sleepers, etc., in contact with the ground, and its strong odor renders it extremely serviceable as shelving for closets, and linings for chests and trunks, when the exclusion of moths and other insects is desired.
48. Cypress is a wood very similar to cedar, which grows in southern Europe and in the southern and western portions of the United States. It is one of the most durable woods, and is well adapted for outside use.
In the northern part of the United States its use is confined, almost exclusively, to shingles, but in the South it is used as extensively as pine is in the North.
49. Redwood is the name given to one of the species of giant trees of California, and is the most valuable timber grown in that state. It grows to a height of from 200 to 300 feet, and its trunk is bare and branchless for one-third of its altitude. The color is a dull red, and while the wood resembles pine, and is used generally in the West for the same purposes as pine is in the East, it is inferior to pine, on account of its peculiarity of shrinking lengthwise as well as crosswise. It is used largely for railroad ties, fence posts, telegraph poles, and other purposes where durability under exposure is required. As an interior finishing material it is highly prized, as it takes a high polish, and its color improves with age.