The most common native softwood tree species gowing on Vashon Island from which VFS mills lumber include Douglas-fir, western hemlock and western red cedar, and very rarely yew which is a very hard softwood. Western hemlock does not have the tensile strength nor the rich color of fir so VFS seldom mills it. The small amount of western red cedar that comes into our mill - mostly from hazard trees that had to come down - is from younger immature second growth trees. It is a much poorer wood than the cedar you find in commercial lumber yards, such as LS Cedar on Vashon Island, which obtain much of their cedar from older growth stands in places like British Columbia. So most of our cedar is used for bridges and garden boxes. So, as regards softwood, VFS mills mostly Douglas-fir.
The most common native hardwood tree species growing on Vashon Island from which VFS mills lumber include primarily red alder, big-leaf maple and Pacific madrone, and more occasionally black locust, bitter cherry, and white birch. Even more rare but still native is Garry oak. We also salvage yard or hazard trees on a fairly regular basis which provides our mill with some walnut, black walnut, non-native cherry, and elm.
All these woods can be used indoors. VFS has milled dimensional lumber for flooring from Douglas-fir, red alder, big-leaf maple and Pacific madrone. We have produced paneling from both fir and alder and both can be found in the new Vashon High School building. We have supplied lumber for cabinetry and furniture and numerous interior achitectural uses including post and beam, fireplace mantels, handrails, railings and shelving.
Over the last few years VFS has milled lots of live-edge slabs. These slabs range from 1" to 4" thick, 12" to 48" wide and 4' to 14' long. The production process takes patience as the slabs usually air-dry for a year per inch before spending a little more time in the kiln. Most of these slabs are made from hardwood species and are used for tables, bars, counters and benches.