Western Hemlock is the single most plentiful tree species on the coast of British Columbia (B.C.). It grows along both the east and west sides of the coastal mountain ranges, as well as in the interior of the province. On average it typically grows 30 to 50 metres tall and 1 to 1.5 metres in diameter. It seldom grows in pure stands, and instead usually grows in mixed stands with Douglas Fir, Amabilis Fir, Sitka Spruce and Western Red Cedar. Of B.C.'s total growing stock, Hemlock makes up 17.7% of the total volume and close to 60% of the coastal volume.

Common uses

Hemlock is firmly established as an outstanding wood for mouldings and interior woodworking. Other uses include doors, windows, floors, suspended ceilings, ladders and utility purposes where a high grade is needed. Hemlock is recommended in India for furniture, solid doors, finger joint door frames and other interior uses. Hemlock is also used for general construction, roof decking and plywood. It is popular for laminating stock and the production of glue-laminated beams sold into the Japanese market.

Of interest:

Western Hemlock is known for its even density which provides for excellent machining properties.

Working properties

Hemlock has a relatively good strength-to-weight ratio and is known for its excellent working properties. The wood requires special care when drying but yields a quality product. It is relatively easy to work with, and has good machining qualities. It turns, planes and shapes well and can be sanded to a smooth finish. The wood glues satisfactorily, has moderate nail and screw holding ability and polishes beautifully. Hemlock lumber is seasoned uniformly in dry kilns. Kiln drying improves its strength and stiffness, and increases resistance to decay and insect attack.
Stiffness / MOE (MPa) Air dry 12300
Strength / MOR (MPa) Air dry 81
Density (KG/M3) Air dry 429
Compression Parallel (Mpa) Air dry 46.7
Shear (Mpa) Air dry 6.48
Shrinkage (air dried-12%) Tangential/radial ratio 1.6

Machining:

Process: Planing

Performance: Good to average

Comments: A silky smooth finish is easy to achieve

Process: Shaping

Performance: Average

Comments: Easy, with good surface quality

Process: Sanding

Performance: Good

Comments: Good sanding finish

Fastening:

Process: Screwing

Performance: Good

Process: Nail retention

Performance: Good

Process: Gluing

Performance: Average

Finishing:

Process: Staining

Performance: Good

Comments: The best finish is achieved with tight stain, or clear finish followed by nitrocellulose alkyd clear sealer and finish

Process: Painting

Performance: Good

Drying:

Process: Ease of drying

Performance: Fair

Comments: Due to the high moisture content of this wood, longer kiln drying times are required

Durablity:

Process: Natural decay resistance

Performance: Poor

Comments: Not appropriate for prolonged outdoor exposure

Process: Treatability

Performance: Good

Comments: Can be improved by incising