Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

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Common Name(s): Redwood, Sequoia, Coast Redwood, California Redwood, Vavona (burl)

Scientific Name: Sequoia sempervirens

Distribution: Coastal northwestern United States (from southwestern Oregon to central California)

Tree Size: 200-300 ft (60-90 m) tall, 6-12 ft (1.8-3.7 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 26 lbs/ft3 (415 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .36, .42

Janka Hardness: 450 lbf (2,000 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 8,950 lbf/in2 (61.7 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,220,000 lbf/in2 (8.41 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 5,690 lbf/in2 (39.2 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 2.4%, Tangential: 4.7%, Volumetric: 6.9%, T/R Ratio: 2.0

Color/Appearance: Heartwood color can range from a light pinkish brown to a deep reddish brown. Sapwood is a pale white/yellow. Curly figure or Redwood burl (sometimes referred to as “lace” or by the name Vavona) are occasionally seen.

Grain/Texture: Grain is generally straight, though figured pieces may be be wavy or irregular. Coarse texture and low natural luster.

Endgrain: Resin canals absent; earlywood to latewood transition abrupt, color contrast medium-high; tracheid diameter large-very large; parenchyma diffuse (usually visible with hand lens).

Rot Resistance: Rated as moderately durable to very durable regarding decay resistance. Lumber from old-growth trees tends to be more durable than that from younger second-growth trees.

Workability: Typically easy to work with hand tools or machinery, but planer tearout can occur on figured pieces with curly, wavy, or irregular grain. Glues and finishes well.

Odor: Redwood has a distinct odor when being worked.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Redwood has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin, and  respiratory irritation, as well as asthma-like symptoms. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Should be in the mid to upper price range as a construction lumber, though clear and/or figured woodworking lumber is likely to be much more expensive.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of approximately 40% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation.

Common Uses: Veneer, construction lumber, beams, posts, decking, exterior furniture, and trim. Burls and other forms of figured Redwood are also used in turning, musical instruments, and other small specialty items.

Comments: Capable of attaining heights of nearly 400 feet, Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is the world’s tallest tree species. It grows in a very limited area on the Pacific coast of northwestern United States, where heavy rainfall and cool, damp air create a unique environment for these trees. A related species, (Sequoiadendron giganteum), sometimes known as Giant Sequoia or Wellingtonia, produces similar lumber.

Redwood lumber is very soft and lightweight, with a decent strength-to-weight ratio. It is also exceptionally stable, with very little shrinkage or seasonal movement. The mechanical values listed at the top of the page represent the averages between both old-growth lumber and second-growth lumber. On the whole, old-growth lumber tends to be slightly heavier (29 lbs/ft3 versus 26), harder (480 lbf Janka hardness versus 420), and stronger (10,000 lbf/in2 modulus of rupture versus 7,900) than younger second-growth lumber.

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:

Scans/Pictures: As you can see from the scans below, Redwood darkens significantly upon application of a finish.

Redwood (sanded)

Redwood (sanded)

Redwood (sealed)

Redwood (sealed)

Redwood (endgrain)

Redwood (endgrain)

Redwood (endgrain 10x)

Redwood (endgrain 10x)

Redwood burl (sanded)

Redwood burl (sanded)

Redwood burl (sealed)

Redwood burl (sealed)

  • Just thought I’d test out the new upload feature with a shot of some nice curly Redwood I used on a psaltery soundboard years ago.

  • Bryan Kapteyn

    Another use for redwood, wood strip built kayak

  • Sarah Perro

    Hi: I have a piece of redwood that my husband made into a table. When we had it finished, the finisher noticed flecks of minerals in the grain. Have you ever heard of anything like that? We don’t know for sure, but we believe the piece is from CA. Could you please respond if you are aware of rare minerals ever showing up in redwoods.
    Thanks.
    Sarah

    • Jay

      This may have been reclaimed redwood that sunk to the bottom of a river during transport to the mill, became mineralized over many years, and was then reclaimed years later.

  • Bryan Kapteyn

    Another use for redwood, wood strip built kayak

  • ejmeier

    Just thought I’d test out the new upload feature with a shot of some nice curly Redwood I used on a psaltery soundboard years ago.

  • Trey

    Another use is a top for guitars

  • Dean Martone

    Hi Dean from Fl I come into possession of a section of the root of a Ca redwood tree in 1967, I made a table out of it, it’s about 6 ft long and 2 1/2 wide and 3 inches thick, weighed about 90 pounds, very beautiful pcs of wood, I have fallen on hard times in my old age and wondered what it might be worth. Can anyone help?? It’s just resting on a stained pine base. The underside is not finished, never had holes drilled in it and has the original saw cut marks in it, the top never any stain or polish, it’s just beautiful. Thanks

    • Jack Wong

      I’m guessing several hundred dollars.

  • Jack Wong
    • ejmeier

      Looks good Jack! I’m curious what you used to fill the checks in the round portion? Particularly the reddish colored fills.

      • Jack Wong

        Glad you asked. I used a mixture of titebond III glue and the sawdust created when i planed smooth the top and bottoms of the rounds using a power hand planner. You really don’t know how the color will turn out cause some will turn out red and some a darker color based on the sawdust itself.

    • Peter Seka

      I’m curious, did you do any force analysis on the stool? I would really appreciate a heads up if any. I face with a situation I have to analyse the forces acting on the seat surface and the legs.

      • Jack Wong

        I did not do a force analysis on the stools. The leds are 1 1/4 by 1 1/4 by 16 inches. I cut one inch tenons on the ends and then threaded them using a tread cutter just for wood. The holes in the stools are drilled at a ten degree angle and then threaded. Before I twist each leg into place, i smear some glue onto the theaded sections. The legs are three to stay once the glue is cured. The legs for the two darker stools are made from reclaimed birch and oak for the remaining four stools.