Botanical name: Platanus occidentalis
Common/commercial names: Buttonwood, American plane
Distribution & Availability
Throughout the Eastern USA. Reasonable availability in a range of specifications and grades in lumber and veneer, although availability in export markets may vary and be quite limited where demand or interest is low.
The sapwood of sycamore is white to light yellow, while the heartwood is light to dark brown. The wood has a fine close texture with interlocked grain. It is not related in any way to European sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), but it has the same family classification, and similar characteristics to European plane (Platanus orientalis). Contrasts well with other species.
Physical & Mechanical Properties
The wood is classified as moderate in weight, hardness, stiffness and shock resistance. It turns well on the lathe and has good bending qualities.
The wood machines well, but high speed cutters are needed to prevent chipping. It is resistant to splitting, due to the interlocked grain. The wood glues well and stains and polishes, with care, to an excellent finish. It dries fairly rapidly, with a tendency to warp. It has moderate shrinkage and little movement in performance.
Rated as non-resistant to heartwood decay, but is permeable to preservative treatment.
Furniture, furniture parts (drawer sides), internal joinery, panelling and mouldings, kitchen ware, butchers blocks and veneered panels.
In some export regions, such as Europe, sycamore refers to a specific “maple” looking wood species, which can cause confusion. American sycamore produces the same wood as European plane with its distinct grain pattern, but is probably more commercially available and, therefore, has the potential to be more widely used.