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 HOME WOOD LIBRARY White Ash, Black Ash

Ash: White & Black

Ash is a great craft wood, but best known as the wood of choice for baseball bats. Other woods are stronger, but it has the best strength to weight ratio, and since most players do not want a bat greater than 32 oz. this becomes significant. For the same reason, it is used for tool handles, hockey sticks, and canoe paddles. Historically it was used for food bowls because it had no significant odor or taste. Curved components for chairs, snowshoes and boats capitalize on its wonderful bending properties. Really you can use it for any fine woodworking, with only your imagination as the limiting factor

The Tree:Oleaceae (olive) Family
There are about 70 species in the world, and it is the oil in the wood that is chemically similar to olive oil, that links this tree with the Olive family. There are only about 17 types of this tree found in North America and only 2 or 3 that have any commercial significance. We predominately talk about white (Fraxinus Americana) and black (Fraxinus Nigra) ash in the lumber industry. The tree is never found in pure stands, but rather is widely distributed among other species

Wood Description:
The wood is straight-grained, open pored, and hard, with no distinctive taste or odor. It is tough and yet elastic, with high shock resistance and excellent steam bending characteristics. The wood is relatively stable with little downgrade in drying. It only occasionally shows interesting figure in crotch wood. It is not considered to be a durable wood when in contact with the ground. It is susceptible to fungal and beetle attack. White ash has quite a clear white to pale yellow sapwood, with heartwood pulling more to the light to medium tone browns. Often the commercial lumber yards pull the sap out of the pile to form a more consistent white stock in the higher grades.

Black Ash is a more consistent pale brown, or tan colour. Rarely have I found curly stock in the black ash, but it is nice to work with, since it tends to splinter less than the white variety.

I also prefer the black ash because it does not yellow in the same way as the white ash, rather stays a beige colour if left natural. It is a little softer thus making fabrication somewhat easier.

Weight: approximately 41lbs/cu.ft.

Ash finishes relatively easily and takes a beautiful stain. It is ring porous, so if you are looking for a glass like finish you must use a pore filler. It can be stained to look like oak as the grain pattern of the two woods is very similar. Ash has less chatter (ie. the little lines) between the rows of open pores, so tends to stain a little brighter than oak. You must sand carefully to eliminate cross grain scratching, particularly if you are using a dark stain.

Ash works easily with hand and power tools, with normal wear on cutting edges. It glues well, but pre-drilling is recommended. It holds screws well. It is most known for its excellent bending characteristics. It does have a very long fibre, so splintering can be a problem when turning it on the lathe. Make sure your tools are sharp and take a finer cut. Watch the grain direction, when jointing the edges.


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Ash wood Trivia:

Most baseball bats used today weigh around 33 oz. but Babe Ruth used 54 oz. bats to set his world records.




theWoodbox.com Jan 2007