Western Hemlock grows in the Western Region from Alaska to California, and as far east as Idaho and Montana. It is a relatively fast growing tree, and thrives in acidic soils that are cool and moist, with good drainage. It is found predominately in wet and mild climate zones, with elevations ranging from 1000 to 5000 feet. Also, the greatest majority hemlock stands are found in relatively shady sites of northern facing slopes. Some trees will grow at higher elevations, but the growing season will be shorter as compared to growth at lower elevations.
The color of Western Hemlock varies from a light tan to a rustic reddish-brown. Also, there are only slight color variations from sapwood to heartwood. Hemlock weights and average of 29 lbs/cu. ft. and ranks just average for strength, hardness, stiffness and shock resistance. It is a fine textured wood, with a straight rain pattern that is resin free. Hemlock is not considered a very durable wood, so any outdoor projects should be protected with paint or spar varnish.
Western Hemlock is very workable with hand tools as well as machine equipment. It holds fasteners well and usually does not require pre-drilling sense hemlock seldom splits. Hemlock can be turned without problems, but it is not recommended for carving. Hemlock is very easy to sand, and can be sanded to a smooth finish if progressively smaller grit sizes are used. It accepts all types of adhesives without problems. Also, hemlock will accept most all types of stains, clear finishes, and paints very well.
Wood Species Index
Western Hemlock has many varied uses. Some of its main uses include: paneling, laminating, veneering, doors, window framing, moldings and millwork. Due to its resistance to wear, hemlock is used for stair components and ladders. Since it is resin-free, western hemlock is useful for the construction of kitchen cabinets and saunas.