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.
"14 whiskies... A record, I believe."
Dylan Thomas' last words.
<< Also, is it poisonous. I'm thinking of the smoke if and when I burn the
scraps and butt ends in the wood stove.
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.)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Dick Smyth wrote:
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.
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. :)
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
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
sheathing sideing, subflooring, joists, studding, planking,
and rafters, as well as in the manufacture of boxes, pallets
crates, flooring, furniture, and ladders.
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
Western Hemlock is a notch or two stronger structurally, but otherwise
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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