So we’re about to talk Ash wood and Ash timber.
As such we feel we need to fill you in on the hot topics for this particular timber species…
In at no.1 we have ‘Homegrown vs imported’ and hovering at no.2 (after at least 5 years in the charts!) is Chalara Fraxinea (Ash dieback disease) We thought you’d want to know so we might as well get it over with up front and then you go about your day thinking good Ash wood thoughts. Ok…
Homegrown Ash wood vs Imported
Imported hardwoods are important to furniture making, building and other woodcraft industries. They allow use timber to tackle projects mean that might not otherwise have been possible with a homegrown timber specie e.g. Dense & durable Greenheart for wharf building or Wenge for it’s tough oily dark colouring in furniture.
We import timber ourselves because our customers ask it of us.
But, the hard truth is, the process of importing has meant the neglect of our British Forestry and Timber Industries as alternative imported wood supplies have taken the place of our homegrown timbers.
Ash is a classic example.
A report from Grown in Britain & the Forestry Commission found that although our Ash is the same species as that currently imported from the continent, although UK White Ash has a similar appearance and properties to N.Am White Ash UK even though UK Ash can also be used for the same purposes as N.Am Ash it still only accounts for less than 10% of UK Ash supply.
Current imports of Ash wood amount to approximately 25,000m3 per annum, but the big news is there is potential for the UK to supply over 70,000m3 per annum.
70,000 m3 of Ash per year!
That’s a lot of wood for British furniture makers, builders, joiners,kitchen makers, yacht-builders, car companies… you name it, they all use Ash!
This is hard for us sawmills & foresters to hear but we know developments in awareness of the need for woodland management there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The UK has the potential to supply 3 x more Ash than the total current usage. That is an exciting thought, and we’re working on it!
Alongside GrowninBritain, Forestry England, CONFOR and our other Forest Industry partners we think the future is bright, which might surprise you, considering our next topic of conversation, but it’s true! #woodfact
Yes, our poor old Fraxinus Excelsior trees are under attack from tree disease, Chalara Fraxinea.
It is a worry for all of us. Currently the disease is found only in saplings, young vulnerable trees, not our more mature trees. So far the trees that will reach maturity in the next 1 – 30 years seem to be free from effects of the disease, so we have that to be thankful for at least.
Our foresters (and the greater UK forest industry) do not forsee a reduction in the supply of Ash anytime soon.
Rather, we see the Ash tree and it’s beautiful wood produce as part of the revitalisation of our UK Forest and Timber Industries*
We feel that even if there were to be a mass felling in the future there, sadly, aren’t alot of active sawmills cutting English logs for timber anymore so we feel we would be able to hold substantial stocks of round timber and keep producing through and through boules for high quality stock into the future (and beyond!)
We are yet to see what fate has in store for the Ash species as a whole but we’re monitoring activity on a daily basis.
Ash Dieback Update – May 2019 via Sylva.org.uk
It was 7 years ago when we first heard our native Ash tree had suffered a devastating blow with the discovery of Chalara Fraxinea.
Now scholars at Sylva Foundation, Fera Science, Oxford University & the Woodland Trust have published a paper that predicts that Ash Dieback – the fungal disease brought to the UK by infected imported Ash trees – will have an economic cost of £15 billion, the first £7 billion of which will be spent over the next 10 years.
Heartbreaking on so many levels and we still don’t know how this will play out.
You can buy the paper here or watch this space for more news.
if you’re worried, here’s a link on how to identify Ash Dieback http://bit.ly/identifyashdieback
Get the official Forest Research guide to Charala here https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/
But in the meantime… let’s think positive and talk more Ash!
So what’s in a Name?
Fraxinus Excelsior is the botanical name for our homegrown Ash, a tree which is actually an Oleaceae (of the olive family – this is interesting as you’ll see later) Fraxinus Excelsior, otherwise known to us as Ash is also what’s referred to as European Ash or common Ash and this is meant to distinguish it from other types?!
Not confusing at all!
Describing Ash Wood (the official line)
Here we go. So, we talk about Ash, a native hardwood, as light cream in colour, occasionally with Olivey green (Oleaceae see!) or Brown streaks. We’d say it has medium coarse grain, is not durable, has medium movement/stability. It’s heavy, dense and resistant to splitting. Has medium resistance to cutting, works well with hand or machine tools. can be glued, painted, stained, polished.
In the real world it’s much more exciting than that. It may be a common native hardwood but that’s the last time I’ll use the word ‘common’ as a description!
Ash is a real show stopper.
It has grain patterns to WOW (crown boards are the best but ssshhhh.. don’t tell everyone) and a creamy sheen when pale and ‘white’ but when coloured, it is oh-so striking. Swathes of reddy browns give a vivid colour along the grain or subtle khaki, olivey greys (that Oleaceae again!) wash through the heart.
What’s more, it’s a really solid, smooth wood. Knots aren’t very common.. amazing huh? and the sizes of boards can be outstanding (the last Ash to come out of the kiln was 80mm thick & 800 – 1000mm wide!!) which makes it fantastic for one piece table tops, desktops and surface tops.
On top of all those incredible qualities Ash is an absolute steal.
Pick a board (any board) from our stock … like Board No 045399 – 100mm x 600 x 3.0m… a bit of a hefty through & through board really but a serious one piece kitchen worktop… it’s for sale at £209 +VAT!
And there’s plenty more where that came from, even though our poor old Ash trees are under attack from Chalara Fraxinea!
What are the typical Ash board dimensions?
We regularly cut Ash logs over the sawing season and we try to keep balanced stock of all the regular joinery thicknesses, 20/27/34/41/54/65/80/100mm through and through boards.
This starts out in complete boules and they vary from 2m to 6m in length which is probably the maximum we can fit in the kiln right now (new kilns anyone?). Board widths can be very slim (great floorboards from the crown) but centre boards can be seriously wide at around 6-800mm. You’ve seen those big Ash trees around right?
Take a look at current stock sizes
What’s Ash timber good for?
Ash is a supremely good interior joinery timber, great for doors, staircases, architraves, skirting and the like.
It excels in fine furniture work, for bespoke kitchens and makes wonderful flooring. It really is a genuine allrounder as a hardwood.
It’s only drawback is Ash doesn’t have a natural durability for use outside unless it has been modified (heat treated or chemically treated). This process is available so if you feel drawn to Ash for exterior joinery work just say the word and we’ll try to find you a suitable solution!
How easy is it to source Ash timber?
However… if you don’t see what you need? Well then depending on how quickly you need it, we’ll either find you some or we’ll cut you some. Bespoke sawing is something we do regularly for furniture making clients so we’re very happy to do it for you too. You can have Ash boules cut to your own spec and if you need it we’ll keep them and dry them for you too.