I've been ordering from a stretcher bar wholesaler for a while, and had been very happy with their product. I'm not sure how to tell pine and fir apart, but their bars had a strong Christmas-tree like smell, and before I realized it was the wood itself, I thought it was some type of varnish smell. They were well made and sanded. Hardly ever saw a warped bar or a knick or split in the wood.
Their overseas supplier has switched (supposedly temporarily) to a new type of wood. To me, it just seems like rough lumber cut into stretcher bars. They're made of a much whiter wood, have no smell, often need sanding, and I reject about a third of the bars that come in a box due to defects.
My supplier's been great about crediting back for bad bars, but I can't continue going like this. I need bars I can reliably take out of the box and just use.
Their pricing has been fantastic, even before the switch. For example, a box (50 pieces) of 20" (3/4" deep) stretcher bars is between $24-26!
Is there some type of supply issue on fir/pine? I've seen a few other suppliers saying they've had to switch what type of wood their bars are made of too... Another popular stretcher bar vendor is selling the same box (50 pieces) of 20" (3/4" deep) bars for $67, quite a big jump there!
Where do you guys order your bars from, are they good, and is their pricing anywhere near what I've been paying?
How do you tell pine, fir, and paulownia apart? I'm interested in knowing if the older stock was pine or fir, and if the newer stock is paulownia or something even cheaper.