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ASH, ELM, OAK, CHERRY, WALNUT, SYCAMORE, MAPLE & OTHERS

ASH fraxinus excelsior
Homegrown and European Ash is often quite colourful and varied in appearance. Boards will tend to be wider than American Ash (300mm plus) and the timber is slightly springier (better for bending). The colour is usually two-tone, i.e., with some streaks of brown in the heartwood. Ash has a coarse texture but is typically straight grained, tough and flexible, therefore used in sports goods and tool handles - and in the past, agricultural implements. Dries quickly, but often with some end cracking. It works and machines well.

American ash is cut differently and is more predictable in colour and grain than homegrown and European. American logs are 'boxed around the heart', and therefore the boards are square edge and generally narrower than homegrown or European - maximum widths around 200mm. Most of the boards are similar in appearance to each other, which is good if you want to make things with a uniform or consistent appearance. Typically it is two-tone, i.e., it has some streaks of brown, but it is also possible to get American white ash which is a pale, creamy colour.

ELM ulmus spp
Homegrown and European elm waney edged planks with plain figure, and depending on availability, with some burr. Dutch elm disease has reduced its availability. Elm is valued for its colour - it can have shades of purple and green; and for its wavy and irregular figure and character marks, e.g., cats paws (a cluster of pin knots). It has quite a coarse texture owinv to large early wood pores. Also has a tendency to distort on drying. Strength is around 30% less than oak.

OAK quercus spp
Homegrown and European oak is generally about the colour of a digestive biscuit. Its figure is most interesting when quarter sawn (exposing the medullary rays) or when it has character marks such as pinhead knots that are more widely found in British rather than European or North American boards. Oak has a tendency to split and check on drying - a lump of green oak around a wood stove will crack on the surface as it dries out. Because it's durable, oak is widely used for many different applications, including exterior (oak frames, cladding, furniture and decking) and interior work (flooring, stairs, panelling and furniture).

North American oak also available.

DOUGLAS FIR pseudotsuga menziesii
Fresh sawn homegrown or European Douglas fir cut to order for beams, exterior joinery and building work.
Douglas fir is a tough timber, particulary strong in compression parallel to the grain. However, it will require preservative treatment for exterior work.
Douglas fir can be kiln dried to order.

MAPLE acer saccharum

Sourced in North American, maple is a fine textured wood that's creamy white in colour. Growth rings are also fine, and the wood is fairly homogeneous. Many trees have some colourful heartwood, predominantly brown but with shades of green and purple. Maple can therefore be either uniform in colour or have quite striking colour variation. You can see this difference by comparing the Smoky maple and Ivory maple floors. Maple is non-durable but has high strength properties and good resistance to abrasion, making it ideal for furniture and flooring. Dries slowly but without too many problems.

BEECH fagus sylvatica
Homegrown and European beech is a uniform pale brown colour with characteristic flecking - sapwood and heartwood not clearly distinct. Beech is generally used for furniture making and turnery. Typically straight grained, its density and hardness vary according to where its grown. Kiln dried beech is stronger than oak in bending and stiffness and in resistance to impact loads - this is why its often used to make chair/sofa frames. It also has excellent bending properties. Beech is non-durable, therefore not used for exterior work. Pinky red steamed beech also available.

SYCAMORE aced pseudoplatanus

Homegrown and European sycamore is generally creamy coloured with a natural lustre. Colour is reasonably consistent across the board. No particular markings, and little distinction between sapwood and heartwood. Usually straight grained. Irregular grain produces particularly beautiful wavy 'fiddleback' figure. Sycamore planks are used for joinery, furniture making, musical instruments and turnery. Particularly good for kitchen utensils, e.g., breadboards, as it doesn't impart any flavour.

CHERRY prunus serotina
Homegrown, European and North American cherry planks for joinery, cabinet making and turnery. American Cherry is a truly beautiful wood, with a fine texture and a fine, straight, close grain. Heartwood is red-brown in colour that finishes really well. Sapwood is quite distinct being pinkish in colour. It's hard but works fairly easily. Supplies of European cherry are small in the UK and tend to be variable in quality. However, the wood is really attractive, with lots of subtle pink and green colours.

WALNUT juglans nigra and juglans reglia

American and European walnut, both dark woods that polish really well, making them popular for use in high quality furniture and cabinet-making. The heartwood of American walnut ranges from rich dark brown to purplish-black, and the colour deepens with age. It tends to be more uniform than the European, which has a grey/brown background with dark irregular streaks. Sapwood is distinct and paler. Walnut is sometimes steamed, which colours the sapwood. Both dry slowly, with some tendency to honeycombing, both usually straight grained, hard and of medium density, but works without difficulty.
Sawn Timber Blue Sky American Ash Homegrown Ash Plain Elm Carved Oak Table and Chairs by Susheila Jamieson Douglas North American Maple Pinky Steamed Beech Homegrown Sycamore European Cherry American Walnut