#72: Eastern Hemlock

Bird number: 105
Date: October 2, 2012
Wood: Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
Source: Reader in Vermont

A reader who is involved with the Birds of Vermont Museum contacted me some months back and offered to send me some wood from her area. She ended up sending me two nice pieces of Eastern Hemlock and Yellow Birch. Both were still pretty green, so I rough cut them, sealed the ends, and put them in the garage for a while to dry. I didn’t wait long enough.

I noticed that the Hemlock was still a little green when I cut out the bird pattern, but figured that it was dry enough to work without cracking. I made the cutout, carved it with my knife, sanded it … and then let it sit. I think that last was a mistake. I probably should have put the Danish Oil on it immediately after sanding. Instead, I waited a few days until I’d finished sanding the other two birds in this batch. As a result, I ended up with a few cracks.

Those small black lines on the left side are cracks that appeared after I’d sanded the bird. One larger crack along the side seems to have sealed after I put the Danish Oil on it. It shows as a faint line on the left side of the figure.

Eastern Hemlock is a type of pine tree that’s native to the northeastern U.S, southern Ontario, and extends as far west as eastern Minnesota and as far south as Alabama and Georgia. It’s the state tree of Pennsylvania.

Hemlock is a large, long-lived tree. The wood is used for crates, general construction, pulp production and, because it’s unusually good at holding spikes, railroad ties. It has little value as firewood, and the untreated wood is not very resistant to decay or insect damage.

It sure carves nice with a knife, though. It probably doesn’t hold detail very well, but it sure was a joy to carve.

By the way, Eastern Hemlock is not at all related to the poisonous Hemlock plants.