By Jo-Ann Kaiser
By Jo-Ann Kaiser
OTHER NAMES HEIGHT/WEIGHT PROPERTIES White ash is probably best known as the wood most often used for making baseball bats in the United States. But the wood has many other commercial uses and is a popular wood both domestically and on the export market.
White ash is probably best known as the wood most often used for making baseball bats in the United States. But the wood has many other commercial uses and is a popular wood both domestically and on the export market.
Ash has long been a favorite for use in sporting goods and tool handles because of its strength, relative light weight and shock absorbancy. It is a popular choice for hockey sticks, billiard cues, skis, oars and other sporting equipment. Before man-made materials took over the market, it was also the preferred wood for making tennis rackets.
Ash is one of the best woods for steam bending due to its flexibility, so it is often used for chairs and other furniture pieces with curved pieces.
"It is the porous bands of spring-growth that lend the flexibility, strength and reliability to ash, almost as if its growth were a natural lamination process," according to the Encyclopedia of Wood.
While ash's strength lends it to many utilitarian uses, it is also used in lumber and veneer form for furniture, paneling, flooring, interior joinery and cabinetry.
"The list of the uses white ash would take up many pages," writes Donald Culross Peattie, in A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America. "It goes into both church pews and the floors of bowling alleys, into rods for sucker pumps, and oars and keels of small boats, into butter-tub staves, and garden and porch furniture, into airplanes and farm wagons - everywhere that strength and lightness must be combined."
First Rate Second Growth
"Normally the quantity of white ash in the woodlot will not be more than four percent of the total stand of timber," Culross Peattie writes. "Fortunately, very large and ancient trees are not required for most of the uses to which ash is put. On the contrary, the toughest, strongest and soundest white ash with the greatest proportion of the pale sapwood that retail buyers prefer, is cut from the fast growing, comparatively young trees of second growth, such as commonly constitute most of the woodlots of the eastern states."
The USDA's "Wood Handbook - Wood as an Engineering Material," says, "Second-growth commercial white ash is particularly sought because of the inherent qualities of this wood. It is heavy, strong, hard, stiff and has high resistance to shock."
White Ash Veneer
"White ash is an off-white wood with a yellow hue and brown heart," says another veneer salesman. "The beauty of the light material is that it takes a stain very well from the lightest to darkest colors."
Ash is normally straight grained, but some has very decorative figures, similar to the bird's-eye and fiddleback figures of maple.
Dr. Wood, Medicine Man
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