KEXP has been Trinity River Marine owner Bill Sibbett’s favorite radio station for decades, so when the opportunity came to be involved in the new building he was delighted that saltwater lumber from the Puget Sound was selected for the wall that surrounds the DJ booth. The wall serves as a dark neutral background for live concerts that are performed on the KEXP stage.
Staining the boards black was a two step process involving both water based and oil based stain. The boards are arranged in alternating horizontal and vertical sections.
These boards were milled from logs that were used for decades by Puget Sound tugboat companies to tow log rafts. By the time they were removed from the salt water they were full of holes and tunnels bored by teredo clams.
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.
Dry Douglas Fir
Wet Douglas Fir
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.
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.
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.