American ash

Fraxinus spp.

American ash

General Description

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.

Other Common names

Northern ash, Southern 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.

Case Studies

200 Gray’s Inn Road

200 Gray’s Inn Road

Design of new landscaped terrace as part of a staged refurbishment

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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.

American ash - Physical & Mechanical Properties

Specific Gravity (12% M.C.):0.6
Average Weight (12% M.C.):673 kg/m3
Average Volume Shrinkage (Green to 6% M.C.):10.70%
Modulus of Rupture:103.425 MPa
Modulus of Elasticity:11,977 MPa
Compressive strength (parallel to grain):51.092 MPa
Hardness:5871 N
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Working Properties

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.

American ash - Working Properties

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Main Uses

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.

American ash - Main Uses

Kitchen cabinets
Mouldings and
Veneered panels
Sports goods
Tool handles
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Other Information

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.

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