Caveats to using ash?

My bid that I prepared for my 10-foot trestle table in cherry got, ah, declined. Which is pretty much what I figured. When the client suggested using framing lumber for the table, I asked him to hold off until I could find a suitable alternative.
In all likelihood, that alternative is ash. Last year, due to a bug infestation, the USFS or the ODNR cut down just about every ash tree around here (northern OH). As such, there is a glut on the market in ash. Roughsawn 5/4, #1 and better is going for about $2/bf. White pine is $3 for 4/4, and cherry is almost $6. This is based on a rather limited search, however. Free market being what it is, I would imagine that any price I would find would be close to those numbers.
At any rate, I've never used ash before. From what I can tell, it would seem to be a particularly good wood to use on a table that will see use in a by-the-week rental cottage. Is there anything I need to know in particular about this HARD HARD wood? Machining? Hand work? Staining? Finishing?
Thanks again to ever'body.
-Phil Crow
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On 10 Jan 2005 19:50:25 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I've found ash very easy to work (make sure you have stable, well-cured wood, but that applies to any wood you choose). Some of the ash I used on my entertainment center drawers was somewhat wild-grained which caused a problem with getting a good finish-planed surface. Even here in Tucson, ash is cheaper than poplar -- I used it as a secondary wood for the entertainment center as well as the drawers. The smell from working ash is unusual, but very pleasant, it does not tear out as easily as maple, it does not burn on the tablesaw as easily as cherry, but does burn if you are not careful with feed speed.
+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ Now we'll just use some glue to hold things in place until the brads dry +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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Thanks. Based on what I culled from the archives, it would seem that blotchy stain is the chief complaint, although it makes sense that crazy, coarse grain could wreak havoc. I'll definitely keep it in mind.
Thanks again.
-Phil Crow
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

ON ASH? <G>
Do we get some sort if freakish ash here in New England? Even with crap home center products, ash takes stain as well as red oak.
This is stained ash, clear coated with shellac, done with no special technique, washcoats, etc...: <
http://www.bburke.com/wood/images/nightstand-12.jpg
Barry
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On Tue, 11 Jan 2005 12:31:49 GMT, B a r r y
Yes. Ash is a variable timber between species (and for quality, highly variable acording to growing conditions). Don't assume that anything about your supply will apply equally to another. It's also one of those timbers (like beech or walnut and unlike maple or cherry) where the European varieties are much superior to the American.
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Naw, no caveats. Everyone likes a good piece of ash every now and then...
Clint

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Phil - I used ash for the legs and supports for my workbench. Like you said, it's really HARD. But, I found that it machined and sanded well. It had what I thought was a beautiful grain pattern. I didn't stain it, just put waterlox on it. I thought it was very similiar to working oak -
Nick B

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Did you go looking for the hard ash by mistake? Is there softer stuff, called lard ash? Oh, the jokes just keep on comin'!
Clint

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Actually I wasn't looking for any ash, but accidently found a piece of ash... :-))
Nick

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Everybody likes a nice piece of ash once in a while. Actually, I've got many thousands of ash trees on about 20 acres, that I'm trimming and waiting patiently for them to grow. My kids may get rich on them, I don't think I will. They're 10-15 feet high and maybe up to 3" diameter right now, but I'm making 'em nice and straight...
Dave Hinz
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Ash generally needs heavy thinning throughout its life and it's one tree that _loses_ value enormously if left standing too long (brown heart, or even hollowing). You could even coppice them, then afterwards you cut at maybe 10 year intervals.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:
Many years ago I built a trestle table and six chairs of ash. I found the wood easy to work with. It seemed softer than oak and not nearly as porous. Some of the boards had very interesting grain, and board selection is important. I believe the ash would have a more interesting grain than cherry.
If ash is that cheap it is a good time to load up.
Dick

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On Mon, 10 Jan 2005 19:50:25 -0800, phildcrowNOSPAM wrote:

Watch out for the sapwood. It acts like pine: hard ridges, soft between. Nicer to work than white oak, imho. Dulls my plane irons and chisels quickly. Mondo mallet I made from it dented quickly (but slightly). Not enough to harm the mallet, but something to consider for your rental. I have trouble keeping marking gauges from following the grain, but that could just as easily be operator error.
At those prices, go for it!
--
"Keep your ass behind you"
vladimir a t mad scientist com
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Why not follow a long history of furniture makers and use cheap wood where it doesn't show and get the beauty of the good stuff in trim and veneer? Make the top from plywood with a bread board edge and the legs from your ash or pine.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Only that it's a really nice wood to work with. Working is similar to oaks, with less chipping and stringyness than red. Ash is a snap to stain, but looks extra nice if it's natural light color can work into the design.
Don't write a wood off just because it's not expensive.
Barry
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White ash, of course. Lot of "pecan" furniture is made of ash. Gel stain would be best, as the earlywood rejects stain.
Only other thing I'd like to add is the importance of routing the edge round, not just breaking with sandpaper. With the diffuse-porous nature of the wood, a splinter can form quickly from a modest impact, catching clothing and pulling threads until you locate and sand it back.
DAMHIKT
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Ash is a great wood. I like it better than oak. Vertical grain ash is my favorite. It works like oak but is whiter in color. It is very strong, (they make bats in ash) pleasing, stains well and is reasonably priced. max

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I find it very similiar to red oak, just a creamier yellow color. It has about the same workability and stain ability. IMO. Although, if you've ever split wood with a wedge-sledge, it's much harder to split ash than any oak. --dave

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On 10 Jan 2005 19:50:25 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I don't think you will have much problem using ash if you are comfortable using cherry. The cherry I've used has been quite a bit harder than the ash I've used. Of course your mileage may vary. Ash has such a wild grain that some times jointing can be a challenge.
Mike O.
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snipped-for-privacy@cox.net writes:

This may or may not be relevant. Today's Ron Hazelton's House Calls had a bit about cutting down a diseased ash tree in his yard. He choose to hire a portable mill person to cut the trunk into boards which he showed how to stack to dry (and paint the board ends to help in the curing process). He plans to use them for an upcoming project. He might have some suggestions as to what to use it for and what not to use it for.
Glenna
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