HARD-WORKING QUALITY SOFTWOOD
Hemlock is one of the higher-quality softwoods and is used for joinery and interior trim where a hardwood would cost more but something better than an ordinary softwood is required. It is commonly used for stair components, particularly balusters. It is not,
however, durable, so it is used only indoors. Hemlock has a lovely smell and is very easy to use, and is favored for all manner of construction and joinery tasks and also for veneer.
Type Temperate softwood
Other names Pacific hemlock, Alaska pine, hemlock spruce, British Columbia hemlock
Related species White hemlock (T. canadensis), Japanese hemlock (T. sieboldii and T. diversifolia), Chinese hemlock (T. chinensis)
Alternatives Yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), western red cedar (Thuja plicata)
Sources North America and Europe
Color Light golden brown, with tight rings
Texture Fine and even
Hardness Soft to medium for a softwood
Weight Medium (31 lb./cu. ft.) (500 kg/cu. m)
Seasoning and stability Stable once dry, with little movement, but can be tricky to season, especially thicker boards, which can check.
Range of board widths Good
Range of board thicknesses Good
No obvious reason for concern, though hemlock is available from certified sources.
AVAILABILITY AND COST
Widely available and not expensive.