Ash Lumber

Botanical Name: Fraxinus Americana

Family: N/A

Other Common Names: N/A

Uses: Cabinet work, veneers, bent handles for umbrellas, bent frames for canoes, boat oars, canoe paddles, bats, and snowshoes.

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Distribution: The North American range of White Ash is reported to include New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. The tree prefers moist soils of valleys and slopes, particularly deep, well-drained loams. It is usually found growing with many other hardwoods.

General Characteristics: White ash is reported to be the largest and most important of the 18 Ash species that are native to the United States. Trees often attain heights of 70 to 80 feet (21 to 24 m), with trunk diameters of 24 to 36 inches (60 to 90 cm). Boles are reported to be often straight and clear of branches to 30 to 50 feet (9 to 15 m). The heartwood is pale brown, grayish brown, light brown or pale yellow streaked with brown. The color may also be cream to very light brown, occasionally with a reddish tinge; the narrow sapwood is nearly white in color. Texture is normally coarse; the grain is described as bold, straight, and moderately open with an occasional wavy pattern. Plainsawn boards usually have strong contrast in grain; lustrous. Ash is reported to be typically free from taste and odor.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.67; air-dry density N/A.

Working Properties: There is very little cutting resistance. There is moderate blunting effect on cutting tools. The wood is fairly easy to plane. Turning properties are reported to be rather poor.
The wood is characteristically very easy to bore. Mortising properties are reported to be poor. Under controlled conditions, Ash is reported to glue with satisfactory results. White ash is reported to possess good resistance to splitting, and has good nail-holding properties. The timber has fairly good screwing properties. The wood is reported to have satisfactory sanding characteristics. Polishing qualities are reported to be good. The wood has good staining characteristics and is often finished in black. The wood has satisfactory varnishing qualities. Painting properties are reported to be satisfactory. The wood has satisfactory or fairly good steam bending characteristics.

Durability: The heartwood is reported to have little or no natural resistance to attack by decay causing organisms and insects. The sapwood is also susceptible to attack by powder post beetle and fungi.

Preservation: The wood is reported to respond well to preservative treatment.

Mechanical Properties

Bending Strength:

Green: 8,900 psi
Dry: 15,050 psi

Modules of Elasticity:

Green: 1,040 @ 1,000 psi
Dry: 1,740 @ 1,000 psi

Maximum Crushing Strength:

Green: 3,905 psi
Dry: 7,420 psi

Drying and Shrinkage

Air-seasoning is reported to occur at a faster rate than average, with very little shrinkage. Kiln-drying yields satisfactory results, but low initial temperatures are required. Drying degrade common in this species include gray-brown sapwood stains (sticker marks, stains), and surface checks (in 6/4 and thicker stock). These are attributable to trees from wet sites, drying too slowly. Distortion and end-splitting may also occur, and existing shakes may open up. Kiln Schedule T8-B4 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T5-B3 for 8/4. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 5%; tangential 8%. White ash is reported to have good dimensional stability, and is superior to Red oak in this property.

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