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How Does One Tell If Selected Redwood Is Old Growth Or Not?

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Forum topic by RyanRipCut posted 11-25-2015 05:40 PM 6110 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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RyanRipCut

4 posts in 2376 days


11-25-2015 05:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: redwood red wood lumber wood grade old growth all heart question finishing

I have been working with redwood for a few months now and feel as though I have a decent grasp on it’s qualities and workability, given: grade, condition, moisture content, cosmetic appearance, knot structure, etc. I know the difference, and can visually discern between, construction grade/professional grade and further along the scale so far as to identify level of “clearness” and content of heartwood. So… here’s my question… can you whether a piece of Redwood lumber is old or new growth based on the ring content/spacing? I just found some redwood 4×4 at a national store that shall not be named, and…. each end is showing at least 200-250 rings… extremely tight… and when I sanded and finished it I was FLOORED. It is GORGEOUS…. much better than others I’ve finished.

Can someone advise on the old growth characteristics?

-- Ryan-Paul


17 replies so far

View TheGreatJon's profile

TheGreatJon

348 posts in 2696 days


#1 posted 11-25-2015 05:48 PM

I have no idea, but this is a free bump because I’m also interested in the answer.

Also, is redwood sold only around N California? I don’t remember seeing any around my area.

-- This is not the signature line you are looking for.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

6185 posts in 3814 days


#2 posted 11-25-2015 06:45 PM

That is old growth, second growth has much wider rings.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Cindy Braunheim

53 posts in 4078 days


#3 posted 11-25-2015 07:08 PM

Go back and get the rest of that lot!!!

-- Cindy in Seattle, http://visionationwoodworking.com

View jerryminer's profile

jerryminer

962 posts in 2904 days


#4 posted 11-25-2015 07:43 PM

I live in CA and have been working with redwood for 40 years or so. Growth ring spacing is the way one judges whether the wood is “old growth” or “new growth.”

The terms are not technical, and while there is often a dramatic difference between the two, there is no distinct dividing line. Some lumber falls into a “grey area” and is not easily identifiable as either “old growth” or “new growth.” Generally, “old growth” refers to wood from trees that grew in ancient forests—forests that existed before people started harvesting the lumber. (“Old” redwood trees can be thousands of years old).

“Second growth” or “new growth” refers to wood from trees that grew in areas that had already been logged previously, or from “managed forests” in which the growth rate of the trees was accelerated as a result of being in a more open area. This wood is much more common today, as the “old growth” forests have been largely decimated and what is left is protected, somewhat.

It’s always nice to run across a piece of old growth redwood: tight grain, darker color, greater decay resistance. I think you found a nice piece there. Hope you enjoy working with it.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

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kurtsr

6 posts in 2646 days


#5 posted 11-25-2015 07:45 PM

Old growth Got a bunch myself from an old water tower The new growth has rings much farther apart same as construction lumber

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RyanRipCut

4 posts in 2376 days


#6 posted 11-25-2015 09:32 PM

Excellent insight! Everyone on this thread has really gotten me MORE excited about this “lot”. I went back to Home Depot last night and sifted through about 200 4×4 and found two more! Each is 8’ long. So pumped to process these and enjoy!


I live in CA and have been working with redwood for 40 years or so. Growth ring spacing is the way one judges whether the wood is “old growth” or “new growth.”

The terms are not technical, and while there is often a dramatic difference between the two, there is no distinct dividing line. Some lumber falls into a “grey area” and is not easily identifiable as either “old growth” or “new growth.” Generally, “old growth” refers to wood from trees that grew in ancient forests—forests that existed before people started harvesting the lumber. (“Old” redwood trees can be thousands of years old).

“Second growth” or “new growth” refers to wood from trees that grew in areas that had already been logged previously, or from “managed forests” in which the growth rate of the trees was accelerated as a result of being in a more open area. This wood is much more common today, as the “old growth” forests have been largely decimated and what is left is protected, somewhat.

It s always nice to run across a piece of old growth redwood: tight grain, darker color, greater decay resistance. I think you found a nice piece there. Hope you enjoy working with it.

- jerryminer


-- Ryan-Paul

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RyanRipCut

4 posts in 2376 days


#7 posted 11-25-2015 09:33 PM

Good call, Cindy! I did!!


Go back and get the rest of that lot!!!

- Cindy Braunheim


-- Ryan-Paul

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tomsteve

1195 posts in 2682 days


#8 posted 11-25-2015 11:44 PM

you found those at home depot???

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RyanRipCut

4 posts in 2376 days


#9 posted 11-26-2015 12:23 AM

I did! I used my iPhone flashlight to check all the ends of each 4×4. I had to discern whether or not I was looking at the bands created from the saw blade or the actual rings on the trail… What really proved to be the best method of differentiationbetween the old growth and new bro, was the coloring… The old-growth has sapwood that is golden and it has heart wood that is darker and deeper it is also heavier, in general… Now that I know what to look for I will always be on the lookout because this is the most amazing would I have ever worked with. Literally it feels different… it’s just betterhard to explain, but most of you have probably worked with old-growth and know what I’m talking about. Amazing.


you found those at home depot???

- tomsteve


-- Ryan-Paul

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tomsteve

1195 posts in 2682 days


#10 posted 11-26-2015 10:58 AM

im glad ya got it, but beings how ya got it at hd, i think this falls into the grey area jerryminer refers to.

View jonoseph's profile

jonoseph

78 posts in 2358 days


#11 posted 03-20-2022 01:15 AM

My hallway floor 100 yrs old is Douglas Fir blocks set in squares .3 blocks per square .One of the densest sections of a block is 38 grains per inch . I am varnishing it in satin water based varnish to make sure it does not darken . The colour is honey or brown depending on the light direction .The checker board effect works much better without the dark brown grubby varnish that was laid on it . I`m sure the wood was left bare for some time as there was a gritty grey layer obscuring the true wood colour. The lazy devils did not clean the floor first .

-- John ,in the Wirral .UK

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Foghorn

1522 posts in 849 days


#12 posted 03-20-2022 02:13 AM



My hallway floor 100 yrs old is Douglas Fir blocks set in squares .3 blocks per square .One of the densest sections of a block is 38 grains per inch . I am varnishing it in satin water based varnish to make sure it does not darken . The colour is honey or brown depending on the light direction .The checker board effect works much better without the dark brown grubby varnish that was laid on it . I`m sure the wood was left bare for some time as there was a gritty grey layer obscuring the true wood colour. The lazy devils did not clean the floor first .

- jonoseph


Holy thread resurrection but grains per inch are an indicator for sure. :)

-- Darrel

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jonoseph

78 posts in 2358 days


#13 posted 03-30-2022 08:56 PM

Many blocks on this floor have very fine dense rings and then suddenly they are spaced out with thicker ,deeper coloured hard grains , so hard it`s almost impossible to plane but very quickly gums up the sander . It seems like the trees grew slowly all packed together and then many were cut down to expose the trees suddenly to lots of sunlight . Then the grain pattern changed .Very hard wood and splinters almost jump out at you . In confined areas I use a home made way to clean the surface .I fold old bandsaw blades over and over to create a 9 inch long rasp with teeth pointing both ways .The open end is wrapped in masking tape . It`s flexible and never clogs . A nice way to recycle and it`s not possible for the wood to clog it up .The edges are not large areas but whatever you make or work on ..the edges are almost the most important .

-- John ,in the Wirral .UK

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

4458 posts in 3260 days


#14 posted 03-30-2022 09:15 PM

I wonder about all the old growth fir with high ring count. Isn’t that a sign of low rain rain falls. Definitely debunks global warming.
I look for and sometimes find Og Douglas fir in my area here in California. If it doesn’t have some or a lot of pitch the wood is so dry is almost unusable.
I’ve seen fir floors it’s a nice look.

-- Aj

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

9623 posts in 2850 days


#15 posted 03-31-2022 06:35 AM

While drought years often have smaller rings than wetter years, most species of trees’ growth rings naturally get smaller as they age. This is one reason that old growth timber is so desirable. Note that the smaller growth rings on larger diameter trees may still be putting on more mass in those later years than earlier years (pi x r^2 x height). Also, warmer temperatures in some situations can result in wider growth rings due to a longer growing season. Unfortunately, a warmer winter also allows pests like pine bark beetles to more easily survive, contributing to large swaths of beetle killed trees, especially when the trees are also stressed by drought. So no, your logic does not debunk climate change data.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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