How to Treat Hemlock Wood

How to Treat Hemlock Wood

Hemlock staining is a reasonably simple process, although it is not without its difficulties. To complete hemlock wood projects like a master, you must first understand how to stain hemlock wood.

Hemlock is a permeable wood that is commonly used to make furniture and other building projects. Because it absorbs stains, stained Hemlock wood has a longer lifespan and a more beautiful straight grain.

We’ll go over how to stain Hemlock and how to avoid blotchy streaks on the finished item in this post. Continue reading.

Hemlock Staining Tip:

Begin by lightly sanding the surface and then vacuuming up the dust. After that, apply a pre-stain conditioning preparation before evenly applying the stain in the direction of the wood grain. Finally, let the first stain application dry completely before proceeding to the next.

How to Treat Hemlock Wood

Hemlock Wood

Hemlock Wood Furniture Staining

Hemlock is a great choice for furniture because it’s simple to work with with both hand and machine tools. It also takes paint, stain, and even glue well and is less expensive than Douglas fir.
However, hemlock wood species, which is one of many forms of softwood, is known for its uneven staining qualities.

However, the sanding and conditioning stage is the key to achieving a flawlessly finished hemlock. But first, gather all of the necessary tools and materials.

What You Will Require:

  • sandpaper with a grit of 220
  • Cloth for tacks
  • Wood conditioner before staining
  • Brush for staining
  • Stain for wood
  • Stick for stirring paint
  • Cloth that is lint-free
  • Varnish Clearcoat

Article: DIY wood finishing techniques

The Methodology

Hemlock Wood

Step 1: Set up your workstation

Every woodworking project generates a certain amount of dust and debris. Because this is a stain job, there will almost certainly be stain splatters and bleed through.
As a result, you should air your workspace and seal anything that shouldn’t get dirty. To seal off the floor and other items in the workstation, use painter’s plastic or newspapers.

Then, using painter’s tape, secure the drop cloths.

Step 2: Prepare the hemlock wood by sanding and cleaning it

If you’re sanding filthy or lightly used lumber, you’ll need to clean it first. Scrub it with a hard brush and soapy water first. Then, to restore the wood’s beautiful color, rinse it clean and bleach it. Finally, let it to air dry completely.

If you’re sanding a new piece of lumber for furniture, skip the cleaning step and go right to the sanding.

Starting with 100-grit sandpaper, sand the piece in the direction of the wood grain. Any rough knots, raised grain, or end grain will be smoothed out using this grit. Then, using a vacuum with a hose, remove the sanding dust.

To ensure a smooth and equal surface, repeat the sanding operation with 180-grit sandpaper. Vacuum the dust off again, then wipe the sanded surface with a tack cloth to remove any remaining dust grains.

If a tack cloth isn’t available, soak a clean cloth in mineral spirits and wipe it over the surface to gather every dust particle. More information on how to clean hemlock after sanding may be found here.

Hemlock Wood

Step 3: Apply a pre-stain sealer to the surface

The use of a pre-stain wood conditioner functions as a blotch control for the stained Hemlock’s ultimate appearance. When you apply the stain, the wood conditioner will partially fill the thirsty pores, ensuring that the surface dyes uniformly and without grain reversal.

Stir the wood conditioner and use a paintbrush to treat the entire piece of furniture. Brush the conditioner in the direction of the grain, leaving an inch between each application.

You can also use a spray bottle to apply the wood conditioner. It’s as quick as brushing and just as effective. Allow the conditioner to sink into the wood pores for five minutes before wiping away the excess. A single coat of paint should suffice.

You can also use a mixture of three parts dewaxed shellac and two parts denatured alcohol. Then use it as a pre-stain on the wood. It prevents grain reversal in the same way as a wood conditioner does.

Fine grit (200) sandpaper should be used to lightly sand any elevated grain, and the dust should be wiped away with a dry cloth. Allow 30 minutes for that application to dry before beginning the staining process.

Step 4: Apply a stain to the hemlock wood furniture.

Hemlock is a light-colored wood. You can use transparent stains or drying oils like Linseed or Tung oil to keep the color. Use a stain like Golden Oak if you want to add some new color.

Even yet, if you want it darker, you can use a dark walnut-colored stain. Don’t shake the stain container if you’re using oil stains, water-based stains, or dye stains; you’ll get bubbles and the stain won’t go on evenly.

Instead, gently stir it from bottom to top to mix it and loosen any stain pigments that had settled at the bottom.

Begin staining the bottom side of the furniture first. Then, using a fine-bristled stain brush, evenly apply the stain to the furniture.

You can also use a suitable spray gun or pump sprayer to apply the stain. For inside furniture, use interior stain, while for outside uses, use exterior stain.

Before applying the rest of the stain coats, wait for the initial coat to dry completely. Allow the stain coat to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Wait until the last coat has dried before applying a varnish. Here’s how long you should wait for the stain to dry.

Step 5: Use a varnish to protect your work.

It’s critical to use a water- and scratch-resistant finishing compound. Polyurethane is a fantastic option to consider. You can also choose how much gloss you want your furniture to have.

Once the stain has fully set, apply oil-based poly using a natural bristles brush. Make sure you coat every inch of your furniture with the first coat, then let it dry for about eight hours before applying the second.

Hemlock Wood

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best stain for Hemlock?

Minwax Golden Oak is the best stain for Hemlock. Because plain Hemlock is pale or light-colored, this penetrating stain brings out the beautiful grain pattern without masking the color of the wood. Furthermore, it’s simple to use and dries quickly, allowing you to complete the entire staining endeavor in one day.

Is it possible to dye hemlock wood?

Yes, Hemlock wood can be stained. Because it’s porous, you may stain it any color you like, from light golden to dark walnut. This variety of wood is ideal for furniture and other home projects.

How long does it take for Hemlock to dry?

Green hemlock wood dries up quickly. In around five to six weeks, it will be roughly 80% dry. The length of time it takes to dry depends on the thickness of the wood and the weather in your area.

Hemlock wood is what color?

The heartwood of the Eastern Hemlock has a light reddish-brown color, whereas the heartwood of the Western Hemlock is light. The sapwood has a similar coloring to the heartwood but is generally lighter in hue. Dark streaks formed by bark maggots can occasionally be found in the wood.

Is hemlock a more durable wood than pine?

Hemlock is much tougher and stronger than pine. As a result, it’s used in circumstances where high strength is required, such as jacking timbers. Although green hemlock lumber is heavy, it may be worked with both manual and powered tools. Working with Hemlock, however, can be tricky once it has dried.

Colors of hemlock wood stain

Hemlock can take almost any type of wood stain. However, some of them work nicely with the grain pattern and feel. Light-colored stains or dark brown to black stains can be used to stain wood. To create a lovely rich color and emphasize the natural wood grain, use oil-based stains.

Is Hemlock a hardwood or a softwood?

Western Hemlock, on the other hand, is a softwood that is only found in North America. Eastern hemlock wood is light, has an irregular texture, is somewhat durable, and has a coarse grain.

For rough-cut Hemlock, the best stain is

Any penetrating oil stain can be absorbed by rough cut hemlock. The Minwax Early American stain is a great choice. It absorbs into the porous pores and gives the surface a brown hue. Rough-cut Hemlock is stained to give it a rich, rustic appearance.

Hemlock Wood staining


Now that you know how to stain hemlock wood, you can use it to add a splash of color to your furniture, siding, and other woodworking projects.

Remember from this blog post that staining hemlock, like staining other softwood species, necessitates extensive sanding and conditioning. This ensures consistent stain absorption and avoids blotchy staining or grain reversal.

Shirley B. Leavitt

Shirley graduated with a Carpentry Technology Certificate Program at Northwestern Michigan College. Her study focuses on art criticism in its various forms, the history of Canadian and American art after 1940, and the psychology of creative thought. Sixty of her pieces have been published in periodicals such as Art International, Arts, Vie des arts, Studio International, The Canadian Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Art. The Caro Connection: Sculpture by Sir Anthony Caro from Toronto Collections, The Heritage of Jack Bush, A Tribute (Robert McLaughlin Gallery), and Caricature and Conscience: The Sculpture of Dora Wechsler (with Carolyn Robinson) are among the exhibitions she has produced. Shirley has served as a guest critic and speaker at various universities in Canada and the United States, including the Emma Lake Artists' Workshop and the University of Toronto. The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations honored her with their award for teaching excellence.

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