Sponsored by: Weyerhaeuser Hardwoods
European Beech: Gold Goes Green
Fagus sylvatica of the Family Fagaceae
European beech, German beech, English,
Danish, French, or another country of origin
for the beech
European beech has a height range from 100
to 130 feet, but the tree can grow to a height
of 150 feet. The average weight is 45 pounds
per cubic foot with a specific gravity of 0.72.
European beech is straight-grained with
uniform texture and color. Experts
recommend slow drying to avoid a tendency
to check or warp.
Relatively heavy, hard and strong, it is
fairly easy to machine.
The wood finishes very well and takes a
variety of stains.
The importance of European beech in the North American market continues to grow. Available in lumber and veneer, the wood from the species Fagus sylvatica goes by a number of names usually tied to the country of origin, but it is most often known simply as European or German beech.
Uses for the wood include domestic and commercial furniture, cabinetry, flooring and millwork. European beech also has a reputation for being sustainable, and companies such as Weyerhaeuser Hardwoods promote the fact that they offer lumber which has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
“As people continue to embrace the importance of environmentally sustainable products, architects, builders, woodworkers and manufacturers will continue to seek hardwoods that meet these needs. European beech is an ideal option to meet the increasing number of government and commercial projects that require the use of materials that earn LEED credit,” said Stephanie Happer, Weyerhaeuser Hardwoods director of marketing. Weyerhaeuser sources its European beech from Abalon Hardwoods GmbH.
In addition to its sustainability, European beech is also popular due to its ease of use. “We switched from ash to the European beech for our solid wood products for RVs,” said Kim Grant, product manager at Custom Wood Products, a Wakarusa, IN-based company serving the RV Industry since 1989. “European beech is a fairly easy wood to work with. We use it to make tables, doors, chairs, cabinetry, cell phone holders, knife racks — literally anything wood that goes into an RV,” Grant added.
Another fan, Beyer Cabinets Ltd. in West Salem, WI, uses German beech in some of its cabinetry. According to the company, German beech displays a range of color variability. In the drying process, the steamed German beech yields a pink/orangey tan color, in comparison to the unsteamed beech, which yields a blonde tan colored wood. German beech has also been known to undergo a medium amount of color change, with a slight muting of the orangey tan colors and an ambering in color over time.
Mike Coon, company manager, said that the very plainness of the wood works well in contemporary styles, although others might like it in a traditional style as well. “European beech is easily stained and can be finished to resemble oak, cherry, maple, walnut and other hardwoods. The wood is great to machine and also to finish. We don’t have any problems with it. Some material will have a dark mineral stain, but some customers like the look,” Coon said.
European beech has grown in popularity due to its availability. “It is the most available and accessible temperate hardwood in the world. Europe has more temperate hardwood available than all the rest of the world combined,” said Doug Martin, president of North America sales and marketing for Pollmeier Inc., which offers the species.
European beech is a very strong, hard and durable close-grain hardwood, said Martin. “When compared to North American hardwood species, only hickory has higher strength properties. In addition to great machinability, the wood finishes very well. Designers like it because it gives them a blank slate.”
|European beech offers a contemporary look and is suitability for a variety of applications.
Photo courtesy of Weyerhaeuser.
European beech is also considered by some one of the most important of the European species. “In the middle of the 1990s beech became a remarkably fashionable wood in the veneer and solid sectors,” according to the Interwood Forest Products, Fritz Kohl Handbook. Two decades later, the famous blond wood is equally fashionable for being green.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.