The Fraxinus genus contains about 70 species that are native to Central and North America, Europe and Asia. A typical ash tree can live for 200 years, and they can survive much longer. The European or common ash (F. excelsior) can grow to heights of between 60 and 115ft (18—35m) after about 45 years.
Due to its strength, high shock resistance and straight grain, ash is often used for the handles of striking tools, baseball bats and other sports equipment, furniture and interior joinery. In the past great use was made of ash as a material for wheel rims, oars, gates and walking sticks. It is said that a proper shepherd’s crook should be made of ash. Interestingly, the Old English name for a spear was æsc (pronounced ‘ash’); these would be made from young ash saplings, known as ‘ground ash’.
The three species of American Ash vary in colour, although similar in structure and properties. The black and brown ash are slightly darker, with a greyish brown colour, than the Other varieties, which tend to be a lighter grey-brown tinged with red. The wood is normally straight-grained and coarse, with an even texture, and lustrous. The narrow is almost white.
American White Ash
Bending properties vary, but are normally very good. The wood is elastic, tough and strong relative to its weight, and has good stiffness and hardness. Shock resistance is very good. It works well with machine and hand tools but has a moderate blunting effect. The harder species need pre-boring for nailing and screwing, It polishes, stains and glues well.
American Ash dries fairly rapidly with little degrade, but grey-brown stains and surface checks can occur. There is little movement in service.
American Ash is perishable and non-durable, with permeable sapwood. It is vulnerable to attack from the common furniture and powder-post beetles. It takes preservative treatment well.
Typical Uses :
American Ash is used for quality furniture, interior joinery, boatbuilding and built-in kitchens. Other uses include sports equipment such as oars, paddles, bats and cues, and handles for workshop and garden tools. It is also a good source Of decorative veneers.