I have been offered about 500 bd ft of 4 qtr rough sawn ash for $200. I have
never worked with ash before. It is a usable wood (other the shovel handles)?
How easily does it work? Does it take stain?
I do have a planer and jointer.
New Eagle, PA
I just saw some nice work in Ash. It was very nice free-standing
cabinet, medium dark stain, machined dovetails. Country style furniture.
It looked nice to me.
Someone posted a link to the wood handbook -- you might check there.
Keep in mind that transporting ash is heavily restricted in some areas.
Michigan comes to mind. Has to do with the spread of the ash boring
beetle. They are levelling stands all over SW Ontario as well. The
woodpeckers are enjoying those beetles and as a result there is a noted
increase of woodpeckers in the area helping with the control.
A lot of 'Grand Rapids' style furniture from the early 1900's was not
oak, but ash. That was one of the reasons that they applied almost
paint-like heavy dark stains. Treated that way, it is hard to tell them
apart. Works a lot like oak.
For 0.40 / BF -- go for it. Ash is nice to work, as others have said it
can make nice furniture, or it makes a good secondary wood for drawer
sides, backs, etc.
The absence of accidents does not mean the presence of safety
Army General Richard Cody
Similar to oak, but harder than white and less "chippy" than red.
Not bad. It can be so hard that some dark stains don't penetrate
well, and wipe right off. Ash can look GREAT with a simple clear
coat. It's got a nice bright natural color and straight, but
pronounced grain structure.
If you do stain it, most people will think it's oak.
I actually really like working with it, it's a friendly wood.
I'm not entirely sure here, because ash (like walnut and beech) is a
nicer timber in the UK than in the USA. OTOH, our maple sucks.
I really like ash. It's not a first grade timber for really high-end
work, but it's nice for more rustic stuff.
If you stain it you can fake oak with it - this was commonly done early
last century, particularly for visible secondary wood, such as the rear
legs of a dresser (front legs, top and drawer fronts in oak). being
ring porous it looks better on the impressive flat-sawn surfaces, rather
than quarter sawn (where it merely looks untidy). There's no ray flake
pattern, as for oak, so this was sometimes painted on in "better" faked
I prefer ash though if it's finished light, with the minimum of
colouring. This works better with english ash (F. excelsior) as it's
paler to begin with. A good finish for rustic turned work, such as
Windsor chairs, is to melt some brown ochre into soft beeswax polish,
then brush that firmly into the well-sanded timber. Finish with dry
brushing the wax once all solvent has dried, then go over it again with
a clear hard wax. Because ash is ring porous, the coloured wax sticks in
the rings and highlights them, but buffs right off the non-porous
Cats have nine lives, which is why they rarely post to Usenet.
Be a little careful with this.
If it's northern grown white ash where the winters are pretty cold it
is a good buy.
There's been a problem for a number of years with "ash yellows" which
has reduced the harvest, particularly along the natural borders of the
white ash range.
There's green and brown ash that works different than the white and is
not as valuable.
IIRC correctly there are more than fifty species of ash growing in NA
and it would help to know which species it is.
If it's white ash and not punky, it'll work very much the same as
white oak and is often blended with or substituted for quercus alba.
Makes good tools handles and baseball bats but will look good in a
situation that usually calls for white oak. I don't know if it has
the tannin content of WO and so don't know if you can finish it
exactly the same in all conditions.
Tom Watson - WoodDorker
Just out of curiosity, I tried to fume some ash with ammonia, and it has
virtually no tannins in it. I'd read this prior to trying it, but while I
was trying some other pieces, I thought I'd throw some ash in the fumer.
I tried one control piece and one with tannic acid brushed on, and the
control piece darkened not a whit. The piece brushed with tannic acid
turned a kind of foul brown...not 'xactly what I'd call purdy.
Nice wood, I like it. But it doesn't like me much, I get a cough for
2-3 weeks after I make anything with it. My dust collector looks a
lot like the floor of my garage, and my air filter is a window fan
with a furnace filter in front it. Bad housekeeping, in other words.
But I don't get the same reaction from any other woods.
It is used to make baseball bats, bannisters, handles, boatbuilding,
furniture and steam-bends exceptionally well. It doesn't have the
highest workability, but it does have a nice straight grain. Finishes
well, but you'll need to test how well it stains. I have made fish
net frames from steamed/bent ash.
It's definately useable. It handles like really, really dry pine-
meaning it's easy on tools, can be dented if you're not careful, and
it splinters rather than chips if you make a mistake. On the bright
side, it is not all full of sap, and it really is a nice looking wood.
I haven't tried staining it, but I did ebonize some with india ink,
and it soaked that up really well. I also made a wooden arrowhead
plaque for my father for his birthday (he's a big cowboy buff), and
burned the edges with the torch before my wife woodburned it. It's
really kind of fun to burn- the grain gets dark very quickly, and it
makes a beautiful contrast with the rest of the wood.
The most common application for it I've seen in these parts is trim.
Usually it just gets a clearcoat, and it's quite striking.
For 40 cents a bf, it's a steal. I think I paid $2.25/bf for it the
last time I bought it.
Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
All kinds of ash, of course, as mentioned. All kinds of figure in ash as
well. We even have exotics like English ash, which makes lumber inferior
in every way to the domestic varieties, planted in cities.
Now, fresh cut log run stuff isn't worth anything near two bucks, but would
seem worth half a buck. At worst, you've got some heavy, cheap, secondary
wood. At best, you've got some figured stuff that takes a dye and holds a
"White" ash is about the driest domestic hardwood in the log, but you still
might want to consult
or other on stickering, stacking, and caring for your stash.
IMHO, I'd rather work ash than oak.. especially if you do any wood turning..
Ash is sort of treated like oaks "red headed step son", but I find that it cuts,
saws, stains, finishes, etc. as well as oak, ad with less splinters..
Please remove splinters before emailing
One man's opinion...and it's an OPINION only, but I don't care for ash.
(Don't like oak either, so there you go.)
If you want a nice "blonde" wood, it's great. But if you want to stain it,
don't bother. You know that really offensive (to ME!) (gotta put in those
qualifiers, you know?) way that oak takes stains? Makes the grain so
pronounced that all you can see is grain GRAIN GRAIN? Well ash is worse.
On top of that, it doesn't take dye well at all, and oil-based pigment is
what makes it look like oak from hell.
If you can take some quarter-sawn pieces off, it might not be so bad, but
you gotta ask yourself, just how bad do you want your furniture to look like
You could try filling the pores and glazing/toning it, but even that doesn't
come out particularly well.
HOWEVER, I agree with everyone that, for backers and utility wood, it's
decent. And for .40 a board foot...hell I'd by ANYTHING for .40 a board
No flames guys...just one man's opinion!!
I would like to thank you all for the input. I went to the guy's "farm" and
picked up my first load...I only have an F-150. Hopefully, I will be able to
get back down there later today and get the second load. The third will have to
wait until later this week.
The next step will be to set it up for drying. Maybe, by August, I can start
planing. That should be a whole lot of fun. I think I will perform that little
operation out in the driveway. :-)
New Eagle, PA
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