Wood Series: What Is Ash Wood Used For?

Jun 7, 2024 | wood knowledge

The Diverse Uses of Ash Wood

In this series, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the timber species we stock at our West Sussex woodyard.

This month, we’re sharing the advantages of Ash wood – a fine timber, that combines strength, flexibility and good looks (what’s not to like?).

We’ll take a closer look at this popular timber while answering questions, including ‘what is Ash wood used for?’.

What type of wood is Ash?

Ash – genus Fraxinus and part of the olive family, Oleaceae – is a tough hardwood. It is celebrated for its versatility, flexibility, pale colour and desirable grain patterns. Tall and slender, Ash is a very important tree, despite not being the King, like the mighty Oak.

We supply native European Ash – Fraxinus excelsior. This species thrives in cooler climates – no wonder it does well here! It is currently the third most common tree species in the UK, making up a significant component of native woodland. However, deadly Ash dieback could threaten this. This disease – caused by a fungus – will potentially change the UK landscape forever.

Ash grade – what colour is Ash wood?

Colour is the determining feature in Ash. This is affected by nutrients in the soil, with deeper colouration in the centre boards and more white in outside crown boards.

Commonly, prime white Ash is the top grade and coloured Ash is second. Colour ranges from cream to shades of brown and highly desirable olive-green streaks.

The grain pattern of Ash wood is typically straight but can vary from tight to open depending on species and growth conditions. We tend not to use Ash with knots. We love to see a rippled grain in Ash – a shimmery irregular pattern with radial rays and flecking. When highly polished or oiled, this is especially beautiful.

Ultimately, when you come to us for Ash wood, we’ll ask what grain pattern you’re interested in. If the application needs dimensional stability, then we recommend centre boards.

Real Ash wood

What are the properties of Ash wood?

As well as being aesthetically pleasing this species is highly valued for its versatility. But what are the properties of Ash wood?

Strong
Ash is known for its strength-to-weight ratio, making it a durable and sturdy material for furniture, flooring and structural work.

Flexible and shock-resistant
When fresh cut, Ash can be bent without breaking. It also offers good shock resistance, rarely splintering where impact or vibration occurs.

Workable
Ash wood is relatively easy to work. Whether using hand or machine tools, it can be cut and shaped with precision. It also takes paint and other finishes very well.

Dimensionally stable
Ash offers good dimensional stability when properly dried and seasoned, meaning it is suitable for furniture and flooring applications.

However, Ash is not durable for outside use. It decays when exposed and therefore is only recommended for interior use.

What is Ash wood used for?

This is the point in the article where we like to make a pun about our timber of choice… unfortunately, we’re stumped this time!

But seriously, Ash is a popular timber that has many interior uses, including:

Furniture making
Used in the production of indoor furniture, Ash is ideal for tables, chairs, cabinets, and bed frames.

Ash lends itself to a variety of furniture styles, from traditional and rustic to sleek contemporary Scandi designs.

Flooring
Ash engineered wood flooring is durable and resistant to wear. It can withstand heavy foot traffic and is fairly low maintenance.

Kitchen cabinetry
Ash wood is an ideal choice for high-quality kitchen cabinetry. Its smooth surface takes paint and stains well, which offers a range of finish options.

Interior joinery
Due to its straight grain, Ash can be used for interior doors, window frames, skirtings and mouldings.

Special projects with Ash wood

By ‘special projects’, we mean more niche uses for Ash, such as:Grown in Britain Ash wood

Yurt frames
A chunk of our air dried Ash goes for steam-bending to make yurt frames. For these purposes we select a straight grain with no knots.

Sports equipment
Due to its strength-to-weight ratio and tolerance to impact, Ash is an excellent timber for handles and sports equipment such as oars, tennis rackets, baseball bats or hockey sticks.

Tools
As mentioned, the shock resistance and flexibility of Ash make it an ideal material for the handles of tools like hammers, axes or shovels.

Musical instruments
Ash wood can be used for the creation of guitars and drums. Ash has resonance properties as well as an attractive appearance.

Sustainable Ash wood suppliers

Ash is a highly sustainable species. It is a naturally prolific and regenerating species.

We source our Ash from local woodlands – it is literally on our doorstep, and therefore has a low carbon footprint.

We have long-established relationships with local woodland owners on the Sussex-Surrey borders. They have responsible long-term management plans – agreed with the Forestry Commission – to ensure the health of the trees, as well as the land and wildlife.

Our Ash suppliers are covered by Grown In Britain chain of custody certification to indicate compliance with high standards of sustainable forest management. You have assurance of your timber’s origins – it is traceable via a unique verification code.

Looking to buy Ash wood?

Here at our West Sussex woodyard, we supply both kiln and air dried Ash. Kiln dried Ash is generally for high end interior joinery and furniture. We have a broad range of dimensions in stock.

Looking for high-quality Ash from responsibly managed woodland? We welcome customers to our yard to self-select from our Ash stock. Call us to arrange an appointment and choose your timber – 01730 816941.

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