Good pergola wood


I want to get some 4 x 12 beams for a pergola. I have four, IIRC, down in Vegas, about 12 to 16 feet long, square on the ends. They are about ten to twenty years old, and straight as day one.
Are they pine? Fir? What was used for external wood back then? If I was to go buy some stuff today, what would I ask for? Really, I think I'll put an ad on Craigslist for old wood, and just use stuff that is old that has kept straight. Guides for identifying wood would be helpful.
It seems that this old wood is fairly dense (heavy). Just going to band saw it on the ends, or carve it.
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Steve B wrote:

Back in the stone age, we used cedar or redwood for weather-exposed applications like that. Of course, you have to be Bill Gates to afford that, these days. For the California-style 'flying wing' houses my father used to build, ISTR he used doug fir for the beams, and the exposed ends help up okay, but they were under a roof overhang, and stained. Your idea of using reclaimed wood is a good one, if there is any floating around your area. Weather is a killer around here- old barn beams and such would not hold up well to exterior use here, unless sealed and refinished often. I guess in LV sun exposure would be the problem, drying out the wood. Any of the Park Service sites with the old Spanish missions or Native American structures near you? They should be able to tell you what the exposed old timbers are on the buildings they are maintaining.
--
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The availability and wisdom of using a particular wood is dependent on the location. I have no idea what would be common in LV. You don't mention if the wood you have there is painted or not. Big difference in what you can use if it's sealed. In the Northeast cedar and redwood were the commonly used outdoor-exposure woods. In the Southeast, cypress or cedar. Now Ipe is becoming more common, but it's expensive and _heavy_.
Try freecycle.org if you're looking for something free. Regardless of where you place the advert, people take things down carefully when the wood is in good condition and valuable. Otherwise they just cut it up and toss it. The old wood can _easily_ cost more than buying it at a lumberyard.
R
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Why don't you call your power company and buy some used poles from them, saw off the treated part you don't want and take them to a sawmill? That's been done successfully around here, I'm told, but I can't verify. Cedar was common in our locale for power poles years ago, so that may be why the possibility is valid.
Joe
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wrote:

Why don't you call your power company and buy some used poles from them, saw off the treated part you don't want and take them to a sawmill? That's been done successfully around here, I'm told, but I can't verify. Cedar was common in our locale for power poles years ago, so that may be why the possibility is valid.
Joe
That's a thought. I do have access to a lot of poles for free. I just have to get a 12v. winch and go get them. I have four right now. They do make nice durable pergolas.
Steve
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