do you have post oak? One of my great uncles built a pole barn 5 miles down in the 'river bottom', out of post oak, and the poles are hard as steel, above and below ground... this was built back in the 40's... I'm using post oak poles in one section of my barn... it's nail bender tough... have to drill pilot holes for nails!
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Black locust is real good.
Red Cedar is real good
Post Oak is good (better if pretreated where wood is below ground with used oil)
Walnut dark only good.
Red Oak if soaked in used oil for a time is OK
If will pay you to have a sawyer square the post. This gives a smoth surface to work with and the sap wood is where bugs attack.
Never put any sap wood in the ground.
It isn't a good idea to put post in Concrete. Using dry for packing is OK
If you will pour pillars and put post on top of them you can use popular or what ever.
Don't be fooled to thing honey locust and black locust are the same. Also Black locust is better cut in the winter.
"telephone pole" trees, you usually find them along side state and county roads. Sorry I couldn't resist! Thats what we used, if you talk with the road crews they will leave them on the side of the road for pick up - no charge. Save your trees for other uses like having them cut into boards for siding.
i live in pa near the maryland line, so i guess our climate is similar. mostly oak is used around here. that is quite pricey these days. if you have oak for the posts it should do well.
i am curious as to what some folks here think of using hemlock. hemlock is supposed to have natural insect resistant properties. they grow nice and straight. i have no idea how they would do in the soil. like anything else, it will be protected from the weather as long as the soil is not wet all the time.
texican was talking of post oak. i don't know what that is but i do know the sawmill down the street sells alot of black and or rock oak for railroad ties.
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Hemlock was the first tree I thought of too. Around here and in PA. many, many barns are made from them. I used to have exterior stairs that were made from hemlock in contact with the ground and they weren't treated. Solid stuff but watch out for splinters.
Don't!! when you come to square the building,lining a bunch of trees up 2 ways is imposseable. Then getting them truely verticle to carry your ledgers and roof, will make a grown man cry. I did it 50 years ago with "Koppers" treated southern pine. Look at how Morton is putting theirs up these days. bcs
Hemlock will work for strapping if you can get it cut and nailed down while it's wet. If you let it dry first, it will twist, and it also gets so hard you have to drill it before you can put a nail through it. I don't know if I would trust it for poles or not, I think it might twist enough to throw the walls out of square.
Under no circumstances do you want to "set your poles in cement" (ie, in concrete). They will rot extremely fast. It's okay to set your poles on a concrete pad or on concrete filled sonotubes, but never embed your posts into concrete.
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In my climate I would _NEVER_ set a wood post in concrete. Wouldn't last 5 years. A real bad idea around here anyhow. Not sure of your construction plans, but use a bracket & surface-mount the pole if you are having a footing the poles are on.
If you are doing a real pole building, I would use the sonotubes of concrete as Cabin mentions. There really is nothing that you can self-treat that will last any amount of time in the ground. The concrete tubes will not cost all that much, will save you some wood, & give you a life-long & beyond building.
I agree with Cabin and Rambler. Pour footings and fasten your post to them. Most people around here use oak (and most put them in the ground and set them in concrete). Many of the small saw mills around here will sell you some posts. Or, if you have your own trees, they will cut them for you if you can get them to the mill. Plenty of folks around here have portable saw mills as well. You could also get a chainsaw mill. They should work fine for squaring posts. White oak is best. As far as shrinkage goes, you needn't worry about the length, as the posts will have minimal shrinkage length wise.
Ps Look for posts with the pith (center of the tree) on both ends.
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Where I live there are not many of the native rot-resistant trees mentioned here.
Seems anything you buy is cheap & poor & bent or not really rot resistant 'here'.
This web site explains a pre-made setup of concrete & wood that is really good. You want to end up making something like it. We see way too many pole barns around 'here' that look like the rotted off pic they show.