The Colors and Stains in Teredo Lumber

Douglas Fir

The log raft boomsticks we use are mostly Douglas Fir which is tan or pale yellow when dry, and light orange when wet or when clear finish is applied. There are  often pink tints in the heartwood, and yellow sapwood out by the outer perimeter of the log. In the photos below, the wood on the left is more colorful because it is wet.

In addition to the normal variations in wood color, wood that is milled from old log raft boomsticks has some unique colors. Some of the tunnels and holes in the milled lumber have a white lining of calcium left behind by the teredo clams.


White calcium lining left by teredo clams.

Black stains occur in the lumber for two main reasons: metal, and long time empty burrows which have had either salt or fresh water in them. During their working life, boomsticks have lots of metal. Staples and logging dogs were hammered into them.


Staple and Logging Dog

Some of these remain in the log for years and the black rust stain migrates in the log exactly the same way that water transports up the stem in cut flowers; black metal stain can migrate 10 to 20 feet through the interior lumber of the log. Water that pools in a log’s empty burrows saturates into the wood around the burrow resulting in a dark stain that does not travel very far; just a few inches.

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Black stains at the top

Rose-colored Douglas Fir boards are a result of leaving sawdust in the teredo burrows after milling. We have discovered that boards are more colorful when tight stacked for several weeks before the sawdust is washed from the tunnels. We enjoy the results when it happens, but the possibility of mold keeps us from purposefully tight stacking wet wood long enough to ensure that all wood is rose-colored.

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Rose tinted Douglas Fir Slab

Hemlock and Spruce

About 20% of our logs are either Western Hemlock or Sitka Spruce. The lumber from both species is so light in color that it is often called “white wood”.  The wood is a uniform light tan, with little or no difference  between the heartwood and sapwood. Sitka Spruce is even lighter in color than Western Hemlock.



Hemlock Picnic Table made from recycled logs.

Port Gamble Cafe Remodel

Port Gamble is a historic mill town, so when contemplating a remodel the owners of The Port Gamble Cafe chose lumber milled from logs previously used at the Port Gamble Mill. Trinity River Marine supplied the lumber for the tongue and groove wainscot dividers, rustic floor, walls, window trim, and the bar.

The Port Gamble Cafe shares a building with the Port Gamble General Store which is stocked with delightful gifts and is definitely worth a visit. The shell museum upstairs has specimens of shells and insects from around the world; some are extraordinary. If you head straight up the stairs intent on seeing the giant clam you may be able to get yourselves and your children past the desserts and candy.

There is a view of the Port Gamble Bay out the windows and the food is worth waiting for. The cafe is popular – if you go at dinner time, consider calling ahead for reservations, especially on summer weekends.


Picnic Tables



Douglas Fir teredo picnic table.

Sturdy picnic tables have been handcrafted from repurposed hemlock and Douglas fir logs that were formerly used as boomsticks that surrounded and contained log rafts in the Puget Sound. Many of the picnic tables contain bores and tunnels from teredo clams giving them unique Pacific Northwest character. The picnic table legs are from ancient cedar logs that were bundled to form the floats of the University of Washington Oceanography Lab in Seattle from 1920 until 2007, when the cedar floats were replaced with steel pilings. The cedar logs were not infested with teredo clams, which only live in salt water. Because old growth cedar is highly resistant to rot when in contact with organic ground, such as soil or lawns, it is an excellent choice for picnic table legs.

Since these picnic tables are made from full dimensional lumber, they are seriously stout. Our standard models are 4’, 6’, 7’  and 8’ in length. We also build 2 different width tables; the 5 board table top is 32” wide, and the 6 board top is 38” wide. All boards are a full 2″ thick.

Each picnic table consists of 21 or 24 pieces of lumber which are  carefully selected for consistency and style. We create a balanced table top with slightly lighter teredo activity on the outside, progressing to more active teredo on the interior boards. We have also found that few or zero teredo burrows are advised on the bench seats, since rainwater or sprinklers or spills can become trapped in the little lakes, and get peoples pants or shorts wet. The boards are planed on 4 sides, then shaped and assembled. Tables are typically finished with a Sikkens brand oil, but a number of alternate finishes are also used and are available upon preference or request. Over time and exposure to the ultra-violet light from the sun, the tables transition from the natural color of the wood, then to brown and finally to gray. Belt sanding and refinishing every few years can maintain the table in its natural original color if desired.

Each table is an individual piece of art and as such is numbered, signed and dated. We are currently working on creating illustrated instructions for these tables so that customers can purchase the lumber and make their own.

Customer Project at Edmonds Hospital

When were contacted by a designer from Meyer Wells with a request for whole logs we were surprised to hear that the logs were going to be used in the interior design of  a hospital lobby. The new Swedish Emergency Center in Edmonds features recycled log raft logs  along one wall creating a bold contrast; natural Pacific Northwest logs in a sleek modern setting. The logs were cut in half and mounted with the flat side toward the wall. The bottom portion of the logs were rounded, sanded smooth and the teredo bores have been filled with epoxy. The upper portion of the logs have been left rough. Other walls display local art and historical photos of the region.