This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
This tree inhabits the American continent between 43° and 47° N. lat., occupying almost all soils. The timber is exported in logs over 3 ft. sq. and 30 ft. long; it makes excellent masts; is light, soft, free from knots, easily worked, glues well, and is very durable in dry climates; but is unfit for large timbers, liable to dry-rot, and not durable in damp places, nor does it hold nails well. It is largely employed for wooden houses and timber bridges in America. Its weight is 28 3/4 lb. per cub. ft.; cohesive force, 11,835 lb.; stiffness, 95; strength, 99; toughness, 103. The wood, when freshly cut, is of a white or pale straw colour, but becomes brownish-yellow when seasoned; the annual rings are not very distinct; the grain is clean and straight; the wood is very light and soft, when planed has a silky surface, and is easily recognized by the short detached dark thin streaks, like short hairlines, always running in the direction of the grain. The timber is as a rule clean, free from knots, and easily worked, though the top ends of logs are sometimes coarse and knotty; it is also subject to cup and heart shakes, and the older trees to sponginess in the centre.
It is much used in America for carpenters' work of all kinds; also for the same purpose in Scotland, and in some English towns, but considered inferior in strength to Baltic timber. The great length of the logs and their freedom from defects causes them to be extensively used for masts and yards whose dimensions cannot be procured from Baltic timber. For joinery this wood is invaluable, being wrought easily and smoothly into mouldings and ornamental work of every description. It is particularly adapted for panels, on account of the great width in which it may be procured; it is also much used for making patterns for castings. Of market forms the best are inch masts roughly licwn to an octagonal form. Next conic logs hewn square, 18-60 ft. long, averaging 16 in. sq., and containing 65 cub. ft. in each log. A few pieces are only 14 in. sq.; short logs may be had exceeding even 26 in. sq. Some 3-in. deals vary in width from 9 to 24 and even 32 in. The best are shipped at Quebec. Goods from southern ports, such as Riichibucto, Miramichi, Shedac, are inferior. American yellow deals are divided into 3 principal classes - Brights, Dry floated, Floated. Each of these is divide d into 3 qualities, according to freedom from sap, knots, etc.; the first quality should be free from defects.
First quality brights head the classification, then first quality dry floated, next first quality floated; then come second quality brights, second quality dry floated, and so on. Brights consist of deals sawn from picked logs and shipped straight from the sawmills. Floated deals are floated in rafts down the rivers from the felling grounds to the shipping ports. Dry floated deals are those which, after floating down, have been stacked and dried before shipment. Floating deals damages them considerably, besides discolouring them. The soft and absorbent nature of the wood causes them to warp and shake very much in drying, so that floated deals should never be used for fine work.