Hemlock, Western

Latin name: Tsuga heterophylla

 

Also known as: Western hemlock, Pacific hemlock (USA), British Columbia hemlock (USA)


Wood Type:

Softwood

Durability:

Slightly durable

Treatability:

Difficult

Moisture Movement:

Small

Density (mean, Kg/m³):

500

Texture:

Fine

Availability:

Readily available at timber merchant

Price:

Low

Sizes:

Obtainable in large sizes, long lengths and clear grades

Use(s):

Mouldings, Joinery - Interior

Colour(s):

Light brown

Notes on terms used navigation-arrow

Introduction

Western hemlock from Canada and the USA may be graded and shipped for structural purposes in the species mix 'Hem-fir'. In Canada this comprises Western hemlock, amabilis fir (Abies amabilis), and grand fir (Abies grandis). In the USA in addition to these species California red fir (Abies magnifica), noble fir (Abies procera) and white fir (Abies concolor) may also be included. The mechanical properties quoted for material from Canada and the USA are for this species mix.

 

Environmental

Not listed in CITES. Believed available from well-managed sources. Check certification status with suppliers.

 

Distribution

This species ranges from Alaska southward along the whole British Columbia coast, and is also found in the interior of British Columbia in certain areas of heavy rainfall. It extends into northern Washington, Idaho, and to the western slopes of the Cascades.

 

The tree

A much larger tree than eastern hemlock, it reaches a height of 60m and a diameter of 2m or more, with a straight bole that is often clear of branches for about three-quarters of its length.

 

The timber

Neither the tree nor the timber bears close similarity to eastern hemlock. The timber of western hemlock is pale brown in colour and somewhat lustrous, with a straight grain and fairly even texture, non-resinous and non-tainting when dried, it has a faint sour odour when freshly sawn. The darker-coloured late-wood bands have a reddish or purple cast and produce a well-marked growth-ring figure on plain-sawn surfaces. with an occasional short, purplish-coloured line here and there on the wood. The growth-rings are less prominent than those of Douglas fir. The timber weighs about 500 kg/m³ when dried.

 

Drying

The initially high moisture content of this species requires care in drying processes in order to avoid surface checking, and to ensure uniform drying throughout the thickness. Warping and twisting tendencies are usually low.

 

Strength

The timber is not as hard as Douglas fir but compared with that species, it is about 30 per cent less stiff and 50 per cent less tough, and in respect of general strength properties it is more closely comparable to European redwood (Pinus sylvestris).

 

Working qualities

Good - The timber works readily with all hand and machine tools with little dulling effect on cutting edges. A good finish is obtained in planing and moulding, but cutters must be kept sharpened. It can be glued, stained, painted and varnished, and takes a good polish. It can be screwed and nailed, but although it is less inclined to split in nailing than Douglas fir, it should be pre-bored if nailing takes place close to the ends of dry boards.

Suppliers

Brooks Bros (UK) Limitednavigation-arrow

Maldon

Capricorn Eco Timbernavigation-arrow

Stafford

Champion, A W Limitednavigation-arrow

New Malden

Enfield Speciality Doorsnavigation-arrow

Enfield

International Timbernavigation-arrow

Manchester

James Latham plcnavigation-arrow

Hemel Hempstead

NHG Timber Limitednavigation-arrow

Croydon

Ramsay Timber Limitednavigation-arrow

Wigan

Timber Focusnavigation-arrow

Manchester

Timbmetnavigation-arrow

Stanford in the Vale

W. L. West & Sons Ltdnavigation-arrow

Petworth

Watford Timber Co Limitednavigation-arrow

Watford

Suppliers

Watford Timber Co Limitednavigation-arrow

Watford

W. L. West & Sons Ltdnavigation-arrow

Petworth

Timbmetnavigation-arrow

Stanford in the Vale

Timber Focusnavigation-arrow

Manchester

Ramsay Timber Limitednavigation-arrow

Wigan

NHG Timber Limitednavigation-arrow

Croydon

James Latham plcnavigation-arrow

Hemel Hempstead

International Timbernavigation-arrow

Manchester

Enfield Speciality Doorsnavigation-arrow

Enfield

Champion, A W Limitednavigation-arrow

New Malden

Capricorn Eco Timbernavigation-arrow

Stafford

Brooks Bros (UK) Limitednavigation-arrow

Maldon