it could be used as a newel post, but it is worth nothing that this item is produced from a softwood species, Douglas Fir, and would show marks and scrapes a bit more prominently than a hardwood alternative.
This item is not pressure treated and should weigh approximately 34 pounds.
This is a softwood product and if would be worth a call to the local store to inquire if an alternative product is available.
yes, absolutely, but we would recommend securing the product very well to the wall and other components of the mantle. This is product is kiln dried, but likely not as dry as it may become the warm, dry environment above the fireplace and if left unsecured may have a natural desire to twist a bit as the growth rings contract.
Absolutely, but unless it is a purely decorative project it would best to consult a builder or engineer regarding safe span lengths.
You would need to hand pick the best ones from the store but they are a pretty soft wood and sand easily. They are good for a rougher rustic look more than a perfectly smooth finished product since there are knots and imperfections. I uses them as they were and just hit them with a belt sander to get rid of splinters and rounded the edges with a router to prevent the corners from getting hit and splintering. They have a rough look similar to cedar. I used them for table legs.
This is what I used recently. From researching this type of wood I'm hoping to get 7-10 years life out of it.