Sitka Spruce has been a staple of the homebuilding industry for many years. It is strong, flexible and lightweight. Recently, it has become difficult to acquire, which in turn has driven costs up. This has prompted Wicks Aircraft Supply to do some research on alternatives and found that Western Hemlock is a prime candidate. When comparing boards of the same size, Hemlock is stronger. It is also less expensive, running 20% lower per board foot, and it is more readily available, according to company officials.
The only drawback is in weight, officials note. When identical size spars are compared, the Sitka Spruce runs about 20% lower in weight than Western Hemlock. Since both types of wood vary in weight, an average aircraft with Hemlock spars could weigh between 8 to 12 pounds more than one with Spruce.
As a special introductory offer, Wicks Aircraft is discounting initial Hemlock orders by as much as 50% below its published rates for Sitka Spruce. Builders interested in working with Hemlock can call Wicks at 800-221-9425 for more information.