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 endangered due to a population reduction of approximately 50% 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.