Botanical name: Fraxinus spp.
Common/commercial names: Northern ash, Southern ash, white ash
Distribution & Availability
Distributed throughout Eastern USA. Good availability as lumber and veneer. The lumber is often classified according to growing regions and marketed as Northern ash and Southern ash. It is sometimes separated for colour and sold as white ash (sapwood) or brown ash (heartwood). American ash can comprise a number of commercial sub species and is available in a wide range of grades and specifications as lumber and veneer. Note that white ash is the commercial name for Fraxinus americana.
American ash is similar in appearance to European ash. The sapwood is light coloured to nearly white and the heartwood varies from greyish brown to light brown, to pale yellow streaked with brown. The wood is generally straight grained with a coarse uniform texture. The degree and availability of light coloured sapwood, and other properties, will vary according to the growing regions. For example, Southern ash lumber will be faster grown and contain more sapwood and therefore, a higher percentage of white colour, but compared to Northern ash, it has a more open texture and grain.
Physical & Mechanical Properties
Ash has very good overall strength properties relative to its weight. It has excellent shock resistance and is good for steam bending. Additional strength information is available in the AHEC publication Structural design in American hardwoods.
Ash machines well, is good in nailing, screwing and gluing, and can be stained and polished to a very good finish. It dries fairly easily with minimal degrade, and good stability means there is little movement in performance.
Non-resistant to heartwood decay. The heartwood is moderately resistant to preservative treatment, and the sapwood is permeable.
Furniture, flooring, doors, architectural interiors, high class joinery and moulding, kitchen cabinets, panelling, tool handles, sports goods and turning. A versatile, good-looking wood, offering great value for a wide range of joinery and furniture applications.
Light brown flecks or mineral streaks, sometimes referred to as glassworm, are common and are treated as a natural characteristic and not considered as defects.