Western Hemlock Wood Uses

Western Hemlock Wood Uses – The Tree of Life

The largest type among hemlock trees is the Western Hemlock and is a large conifer among the Pine family. The tree grows in the wet and cool weather in the Pacific Northwest.

Western hemlock wood is economically significant for the Canadian economy. Though it is not that strong as other types of trees, western hemlock uses are pretty various.

The characteristics of Western Hemlock

Western hemlock is a tree that grows slowly, yet it can grow for centuries. Here are the common characteristics of western hemlock.


The western hemlock usually has even density with straight grain.

However, the wood texture may vary, ranging from fine to coarse due to the different growth rates of the yearly wood rings.

Proper drying freshly cut western hemlock can be challenging because it is very wet. However, once the wood is dry, the western hemlock wood is the type of stable wood.


Western hemlock is a stable type of wood, but it has a high shrinkage rate. When using for construction, western hemlock has the standard for 15 percent of kiln drying or under.

Considering the stability, western hemlock has moderate strength and is quite light in weight. The western hemlock wood is also moderate in terms of stiffness, hardness, and shock resistance. This stability and strength are considered moderate compared to other wood types.

The western hemlock wood splits when screwed or nailed too close to the end of the piece. The problem with the western hemlock tree is the bacterial infection that affects the tree.

It increases the moisture of the tree, which weakens the wood and causes odor.


The color of the sapwood is usually white or pale brown.

It’s a lighter color than the heartwood and mostly only one inch wide, making it rarely found in lumber.

On the contrary, the heartwood is typically reddish-brown, and the transition between the heartwood and sapwood is not very visible.

Sometimes there are small black knots on the wood as a result of wood regrow from a dead branch from the main stem.

It is usually dimensionally stable and tight. Also, there are dark streaks on the lumber mainly caused by bark larvae, but it does not affect or reduce the strength. 

Commercial properties

The weight to strength ratio of western hemlock is relatively good. This wood is famous as a working property.

It requires specific care during drying, but it transforms into a good product once it is dried. The even density of the wood is perfect for machining properties and shapes well.

The wood can also be sanded if you desire a smooth finish.

The hemlock wood does not leave any stains, is non-resinous, and also has beautiful finishes. This means western hemlock works well with any finishes, including waxing.

The wood is one of the favorites among woodworkers as it glues well, sands smoothly as well as has a good screw and nail holding ability.

Western Hemlock Uses

The western hemlock uses quite broad, particularly in the commercial and construction world. In general structure, the wood is usually used for studs construction, plywood, and roof decking.

The wood can also be used for laminated beams, and it is well-laminated.

Moreover, the fine pulp of hemlock wood is also great for paper production.

Since the wood has excellent working properties, western hemlock is mainly used for interior woodworking and moldings.

It is widely used in interior furniture, floors, doors, and many more. The western hemlock uses as a wooden spoon, roasting spit, combs, and such.

While the wood has extended functions, the bark, on the other hand, is rich in tannin and usually used as a stain for wood finishing, textile, and wool color.

Despite its beautiful appearance, the western hemlock is considered softwood. This means any furniture made of this wood should not be exposed to prolong outside use.

The durability of this wood is not that good for outside furniture though it has natural decay resistance.

However, considering the low price and wide availability, the western hemlock is suitable for interior furniture work, framing, casework, molding, and other woodworking.

People value western hemlock for its dramatic appearance as well as its versatile performance in woodworking and low price. Source: