Western Hemlock Info

An Informative Guide on Western Hemlock

Western hemlock is a tree species native to the northwestern region of North America. It produces easily workable softwood that has multiple applications in home building among other uses. The lumber produced is generally reddish brown and has an appealing wood pattern when flat sawn. These characteristics make it a preferred choice when it comes to woodwork. It is known to have little resin and, therefore, takes well to painting and staining. The soft surface can be easily sanded with fine grain sandpaper to produce a fine polished surface; at times the soft surface may be uneven when sanded due to the soft nature of the wood especially when the early wood is transitioning into late wood.

Western hemlock lumber is mainly applied in construction of homes. Since this tree species is easily vulnerable to pests and decay, it is important to ensure that it is treated before use especially in external applications. Other uses include construction of doors, flooring, packing cases, cabinet work and ceilings. It is preferred for joinery work as it holds screws and nails firmly and also glues easily. Other specialized uses include production of dimethyl sulphide which is used to give natural gas its distinctive scent for easy detection of gas leaks. It is plain to see the diversity in terms of suitable applications of western hemlock.

Since western hemlock is in high supply all over the North American region, the trees provide an affordable and renewable source of building materials. This species is in abundant supply in Canada and forms a large portion of the total value of the lumber exports from there. It is also Washington State’s state tree, just to underpin its prominence around the region. The high supply of western hemlock lumber means buyers can access it at an affordable price. The wood is traded under the name HEM-FIR due to the multiple similarities with fir species around this region. It is usually more affordable when compared to other softwoods such as ponderosa and white pine.

Interesting facts about Western Hemlock

It is interesting to note that western hemlock has had multiple uses over the ages. The tree’s bark and leaves were used for both their nutritional and medicinal value by Native Americans. The easily workable western hemlock wood was also used centuries ago to carve out spoons and bowls.

Another fact to keep in mind is that Western Hemlock has been found to trigger allergies in those with heightened sensitivity. When used to build indoor sauna’s it gives off a strong scent for an extended period of time so be sure to familiarize yourself with it beforehand to know if you can bear it. However, the rich odor has not been found have harmful health effects.