Old Growth Redwood and New growth redwood can sometimes be hard to differentiate.
New growth redwood goes by many different names including, but not limited too; Second growth, Third growth, Fourth growth and Young growth. By today’s standards Old growth redwood is over 200 years old and has at least 8 grains per inch on a cross section.
Old Growth Redwood
Logging of Old growth redwood was completely halted in approximately 1996 to preserve the species and was severely restricted for about ten years prior to that.
Most of the Old growth redwood that we use today, is salvaged from the forest floor, or reclaimed and re purposed. It was left lying on the forest floor up to 150 years ago, when the logging was done in that area. It was left there for a few different reasons. #1 Some of the pieces were too large to move with their current ways of transport. #2 The pieces were not of lumber/building quality and were left to rot.
The oldest living redwood (Sequoia Sempervirens) tree is said to be at least 3000 years old. The tallest one towers at 379ft. Early logging of these beautiful monsters has taken their once great numbers to about 5% of their original total.
The debate continues of what constitutes true Old growth and what does not. There is too much speculation and many opinions from varying sources on this topic to ever agree. Redwoods can grow over 100 feet in their first 50 years which makes it hard to determine age by their height only. The most accurate and easiest way to determine whether a redwood log is old growth or not, is by counting the growth rings.
Visual Appearance of Redwood
Visual appearances can also be used to determine the difference. For example; If you are looking at living trees, old growth’s bark is a much darker tone with a lot more texture and depth to it. Towards the base of very large old growth trees the bark can be over 1 foot thick. New growth’s bark is much thinner and brighter than old growth.
When looking at logs or slabs, old growth has a deeper red tone and tighter grain. New growth is brighter and has much wider grain. When we deal with salvage old growth it is rare to find sap wood still on the log or piece of wood. This is because the sap wood is the first to rot off while lying on the forest floor. New growth always has sap wood on it. This is because it was not lying around long enough for it to rot off.
Differences When Finishing Redwood
The differences between the Old Growth and New Growth are also very evident when it comes to wood working and finishing. During my experiences working with both types, I feel that Old growth is easier and nicer to sand/finish then New growth is. I feel that it has to do with the grain structure and density of the wood. Old growth is harder and has more depth and grain variation including Curly grain, Burl and combinations of both. New growth can also have some grain variation but it is not as intense.
We use mostly old growth redwood for natural edge slab tables, fireplace mantels, bathroom vanities, coffee tables, etc. But, we also carry some new growth redwood due to availability issues of Old growth. by doing so we have a less expensive option for customers. Both types of redwood can look beautiful when done, regardless of your personal preference. Whether you are building a natural edge table or a fire place mantel keep us in mind for your project, both Old growth and New growth redwood are great options!
Consider The Source When Buying Redwood
Another thing to take into consideration when sourcing your Old Growth Redwood is where did it come from. We pride ourselves in making sure that every piece of wood we get comes from an Ethical Source. Be it land owner or salvaged from an earlier harvest and left in the woods for decades. Not everybody does. Some people can cut the price, just by eliminating all the ethics. Buying slabs for pennies on the dollar. The problem is that these slabs are sometimes cut from the sides of living trees. They are cut based on value alone. And, they are sold quickly for that reason. Nobody wants to get caught with them.
We Cut All of Our Own Redwood Slabs
Here are Redwood Burl Inc. we cut all our own slabs. We then stack them and dry them for months – if not years -before putting them on the market. By doing so, we are able to account for all of our wood. We know where it came from. It is our hope that you will try to do the same. By salvaging redwood, we are taking an end of life product destined to be chipped, burned or left to rot. We are giving it a chance to live on for a few hundred years more.Living on as furniture to be enjoyed by generations to come.