Hemlock

I'm finishing a room with rough hemlock planks for a very rustic appearance. The job is going very well and so far looks great. But I have no experience with this wood. Can anybody tell me something more about it. You don't hear about it the way you hear about oak or maple or pine or even cedar. Also, is it poisonous. I'm thinking of the smoke if and when I burn the scraps and butt ends in the wood stove.
rps
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<< Also, is it poisonous. I'm thinking of the smoke if and when I burn the scraps and butt ends in the wood stove. >><BR><BR>
I can't tell you about its qualities as a wood, but it's not poisonous--that's a plant, very different looking. Incidentally, it does not procure a painless death--on the contrary. (I know since I'm a member of End of Life Choices, formerly Hemlock, and have had to explain this a lot.) zemedelec
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I'm not sure of the technical details of Hemlock but I'm live in the in timber country in the Pac. NW and hemlock is logged and sawn into lumber with right along with the Douglas Fir.
Once the bark is off, I can't tell the difference.
I think the Fir is prefered for general construction but Hemlock is close enough that it makes very little, if any difference..
I'm sure some others will have more details but for what you doing, just treat it like you would Douglas Fir.
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My opinion and experience. FWIW

Steve




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Eastern hemlock, at any rate, has just about nothing in common with doug fir. It is lighter and weaker, and it sure doesn't look anything like it when sawed into lumber. That said, it is very widely sawed and used in the northeast for dimension lumber. All the barns hereabouts are made out of it. It is better than spruce for dimension lumber but splits easier when nailed. And it is crappy firewood (but certainly not poisonous). The trees are useless as christmas trees.

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On Mon, 19 Jan 2004 13:59:44 -0500, "donald girod"
:)Eastern hemlock, at any rate, has just about nothing in common with doug :)fir. It is lighter and weaker, and it sure doesn't look anything like it :)when sawed into lumber. That said, it is very widely sawed and used in the :)northeast for dimension lumber. All the barns hereabouts are made out of :)it. :)>
FWIW, I remember being told 30 years ago by a Vermonter experienced in barn-building that Eastern hemlock was favored for barns because it tastes nasty to animals being housed in the barns. They were less likely to chew and destroy hemlock boards.
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Western Hemlock is heavier, harder, stronger, and less splintery than Eastern Hemlock.
donald girod wrote:

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I vaguely remember that it is all referred to as "hem-fir".
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Hem-Fir is just one species/group classifications of the WWPA (Western Wood Products Association). In the strength category Douglas Fir-Larch is first, Douglas Fir-South is second, and Western Hemlock is third. Hem-Fir is tied with Mountain Hemlock-Hem-Fir, all other groups are weaker. I'm not sure how they come up with these groups but the mixtures probably reflect the lowest strength wood when several species are mixed in lumber piles.
Toller wrote:

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Hemlock is used a lot around me. The one thing I've found is that you want freshly sawn hemlock and then cut it and get it in place soon. Otherwise it will twist and turn worse than any other wood I've seen. It also is more prone to splitting as it drys.
It's a good wood for use near or in water. Most of my dock is hemlock.
RB
Dick Smyth wrote:

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My books and my experience says that hemlock (western) in not durable under conditions that favor decay.
RB wrote:

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Hi,
Unlike all other wood that grows in your region, Hemlock is the perfect wood to support a raft or dock in a lake. It doesn't rot below or above the water line, but just at the water line. It probably won't rot in your lifetime.
Duck into a sawmill, and you can pick up a thousand board feet for about half the cost of SPF planks. I've used it for cribs where I'm pouring cement, but it's a lot of work. One plank will be "air-weight" the next, so dense that you can't hammer a nail into it.
You have to be fast at getting in nailed into place. It goes nuts as it dries, then it doesn't even burn.
shotgun
wrote:

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I think you forgot western red cedar which has to be many times superior to hemlock for that purpose, at least they wouldn't rot as fast.
shotgun*@osbaccess.com wrote:

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wrote:

Poisonous hemlock isn't the tree called hemlock.
Hemlock doesn't burn that great and has a tendency to warp, but it has one decent property in your case. For some reason, spiders aren't fond of building webs on hemlock. :)
Jeff
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Thanks all... As usual, this group tells me what I want to know. Regards ds

appearance.
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From the Wood Handbook: "..Easter Hemlock grown fron New England to Northern Alabama and Georgis, and in the Great Lakes states. Other names are Canadian Hemlock and hemlock-spruce... .... the wood is coarse and uneven in texture (old trees tend to have considerable shake); it is moderately lightweight, moderately hard, moderately low in strength, moderately stiff, and moderately low in shock resistance. Eastern hemlock is used principally for lumber and pulpwood. The lumber is used primarily in building construction (framing, sheathing, subflooring, and roof boards) and in the manufacture of boxes, pallets, and crates. ... " Ch 1 - Pg 11
Western and mountain Hemlock (which are apparently different) Grow, respectively from washington/oregon north through canada and alaska, and and from central california north to alaska, in mountainous country. The characteristics appear to be similar to eastern hemlock, minus the comments about uneven texture and shake, and with most of the "moderately low"s changed to "moderate". It has typical uses that include: sheathing sideing, subflooring, joists, studding, planking, and rafters, as well as in the manufacture of boxes, pallets crates, flooring, furniture, and ladders.
--Goedjn
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None of the woods that you generally find as lumber in North America are noticably toxic. The "most hazardous" are the various cedars - which present a cancer risk if you breath a _lot_ of cedar dust. As in, work in a sawmill for decades... This probably also applies to redwood and other highly rot resistant woods, tho, with lower risk levels.
The only medium-high risk native NA woods are Mimosa and Oleander. Not things you find in the standard lumber pile...
The only precaution is to wear a dust mask while you're cutting or machining it and producing lots of dust. Which you should do with all woods anyway. Breathing lots of wood dust ain't good for you, even if it ain't a toxic variety.
Burning it won't be a problem. Other than the usual creosote-builtup concerns you encounter when burning any softwoods.
You'll find that Eastern Hemlock is very similar to generic spruce-pine-fir construction lumber in most properties, but it's a notch up in structural strength. I can also tell you that 80 year old Hemlock structural lumber is brutally hard. So hard that drywall screwguns have extreme difficulty driving screws.
Western Hemlock is a notch or two stronger structurally, but otherwise pretty similar.
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Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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