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White Ash

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Wood identification
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Wood identification

Wood identification White ash (Fraxinus americana) grows from the East to the Midwest. Green ash and blue ash. Green ash and blue ash-with somewhat weaker wood-share the same range, and commercially, they're harvested and marketed together. Preferring the well-drained loam soil found in river valleys, white ash can grow to 120' tall and a diameter of 6' with nearly half the trunk height clear of branches. You won't find it in pure stands, though. Instead, the tree likes a mix of neighbors-hardwoods in the South, conifers in the North. The name "ash" may originally have come from the gray color of the tree's flat-ridged bark that's cross-hatched with diamond shapes. As does walnut, white ash produces leaves 8" to 12" long that are made up of five to nine lance-shaped leaflets, each about 5" long. Near the leaves hang the fruit of last year's growth-clusters of tan paddle-shaped wings with seed cases. White ash differs in color from black ash (often called brown ash), its cousin in the market. White ash looks lighter-although it's actually tan, not white. And even flat-sawn white ash can display bird's-eye, fiddle-back, and quilt-pattern figure. The wood of white ash nearly matches hickory's rating in strength, stiffness, and hardness. Yet, at 41 pounds per cubic foot, cream-colored white ash is lighter and easier to work. Although somewhat course-textured, white ash generally has straight and even grain.


Continued on page 3:  Uses in woodworking

 

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