View Full Version : Wood Question: What about Hemlock?
10-17-2001, 04:49 PM
Hemlock seems to be abundant and easily obtainable in my neck of the woods. It seems to be a very clear wood and is available in all kinds of plank and dowel dimensions.
Does Hemlock have any merit as a boat building material? Would it be most likely used in structural elements or foils or spars - or should I just stay clear?
10-17-2001, 04:52 PM
In short, stay clear.
10-17-2001, 05:54 PM
Yup. Around here the cheap boards are sold as hem-fir which could be hemlock or a variety of fir species. (Douglas Fir is not fir.)
10-17-2001, 05:55 PM
Dagon;Unfortunately hemlock is not a good choice for boat wood.Makes great flooring in the house,though,and would be suitable for a cradle for the boat.I think there was some discussion on this a while back.
10-17-2001, 06:00 PM
Near where I grew up, hemlock used to be harvested mainly for the bark (which was used in tanning leather).
I believe it is used for framing stock, crates, pallets, etc. Rough applications.
There is nothing to recommend it for boatbuilding. Strength, workability, appearance, shock resistance, rot resistance: all not so good.
Wait. On second thought it may rank just above OSB for boatbuilding. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif
Don't give Hemlock a second thought as boat lumber, it's worthless for that. The term Hem-Fir is a marketing ploy. A sling of Hemlock can be called Hem-Fir (as though there is such a thing) as long as at least 10% of the lumber in that sling is Doug Fir. Check it out next time your at a lumber yard that sells such an animal.
hemlock could be used for propelers cause it twists enough on its own ya wouldn't have to carv the prop shape.
hemlock could be used for propelers cause it twists enough on its own ya wouldn't have to carv the prop shape. Actualy properly selected, especialy for vg it's a very pretty wood, suitable for cabinets or wainscoting in large boats.
[This message has been edited by gert (edited 10-17-2001).]
10-17-2001, 10:10 PM
Hmm. We usta harvest dogwood for the bark......
10-17-2001, 10:51 PM
I've heard much the same thing about hemlock. Plus, it stinks.
The Glen-L site has a pretty good section on boat building woods (go to http://www.glen-l.com and scroll down on the left ... you'll see a link to the Boat Building Woods section.)
It's heavy as hell when green. Even if the boat you built was crap you would be strong...
I have built a couple of post and beam houses and barns with green hemlock. Nothing like hoisting green 8X8's up a couple of stories on laders. Hell even green 20 ft 2X4's weigh enough to make you break a sweat. I have built 3 barns, and so far we have been able to cut and mill all the wood on the property that the barn was being built on. Makes you feel pretty good.
I always thought the worst wood for stink was Popler (sp?). Smells like piss when you cut it. Most others I like the smell of. I'm not too keen on the smell of burning Mahogany or Bubinka, but I generally like the smell of wood as much as I like a fine wine.
10-18-2001, 12:01 AM
Green hemlock smells like pumpkin when you cut it
10-18-2001, 12:39 AM
Want to know what really stinks when you sut it? Zebrawood. It smells like you stepped in that little prize left by the neighbor's dog. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif Honest, it is BAD.
I don't think there's a tree in the world the birds like better, even a small hemlock can become kind of a community center for birds. In my neck of the woods, unfortunatly we've lost most of our big old hemlocks to a bark beetle. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/frown.gif
Leave 'em standing if you can! The wood is virtualy worthless.
Thaddeus J. Van Gilder
10-18-2001, 09:20 AM
Hemlock and poplar both rate as woods that rot "when you sneeze on them".
10-18-2001, 08:14 PM
Primary use for hemlock is to deal with philosophers you don't like...
10-19-2001, 08:42 AM
Different Hemlock Don. Conium Maculatum a perenial herb vs. Tsuga Canadensis an eastern tree. http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/wink.gif
I remember a beauty that lived in a steep gully on some property we owned in the NC mountains, 4.5' dia., head of the local tribe it's decendants scattered all around it. Don't know if it is concious, but it gave the felling that someone was watching.
10-20-2001, 06:01 AM
We used some old growth hemlock on a recent restoration project(www.chantryisland.com).
These trees should have been left standing,because when I was cutting some of them,quite a few of the 3"x21"x21'timbers split from end to end and promply fell apart.This is known as "shake" and is quite common in hemlock.Apparently it is caused by the same bacteria that makes it stink.
Beautiful as a giant tree,lousy as lumber.
10-20-2001, 06:35 PM
We use hemlock for internal doors and stairs amongst other joinery items. Nice and clean but brittle. Not durable enough for boats.
10-20-2001, 06:46 PM
The UK has been over-run by a plague of cheap and also nasty hemlock oars, sold by so called chandlers to folks who know no better. No idea why.
10-21-2001, 10:55 PM
Noah, you're right about green hemlock. I built a barn with too, and it's a killer. Right now I'm restoring another barn, and I'm going cutting some.
At one time, the hills here in Simcoe County (Ontario) were covered in white pine, but it's mostly all gone, mostly red pine plantation and maple regrowth now. So I'm eying some of the hemlocks out back - thanks for the reminder about the weight, I'll to use something better than a ladder and a rope.
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