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Hemlock – the secret super timber

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

In this week’s emailer, we are talking about one of the lesser known timber types we use here at Richard Burbidge, our traditional Trademark range known as ‘Western Hemlock’. In the range, this timber sits between the pine and white oak options in price and is the perfect timber for staining, varnishing or painting.

What is it and where to find it?

Widespread and abundant, hemlock ranges southward from Alaska along the British Columbia coast, extending into Northern Washington, Idaho, and to the western slopes of the Cascades.

Being a large evergreen coniferous tree, it reaches a height of around 60 metres and a diameter of up to 2.7 metres, and is known as the largest species of hemlock. It is also included in the ‘least concern’ category of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, meaning there are little concerns with its extinction.

Also known as Pacific Hemlock, British Columbia Hemlock, Alaska Pine and Hemlock Spruce across the globe, the Western Hemlock’s pale brown heartwood results in a pale brown timber with slightly reddish or purplish lines created, by the darker latewood bands. It’s known for its straight grain and fairly even texture compared with both pine and white oak, due to the growth rings being less prominent - resulting in a clean looking finish.

Western Hemlock is one of the most valuable timbers of North America, and is used for general construction, floors and joinery such as doors and interior finishes. All these uses are due to the timber working readily with all hand and machine tools, with little dulling effect on cutting edges.

For more information, please contact our technical department on 0843 778 0459 or the customer support team on 01691 678300.