The Aiken Wood Carvers Common Wood DataBase

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Common Name(s): American Chestnut
Scientific Name: Castanea dentata
Distribution: Eastern United States
*Tree Size: 100-120 ft (30-37 m) tall, 5-7 ft (1.5-2.0 m) trunk diameter *Because of the chestnut blight of the early 1900s, very few trees of this size currently exist Average Dried Weight: 30 lbs/ft3 (480 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .40, .48 Janka Hardness: 540 lbf (2,400 N) Modulus of Rupture: 8,600 lbf/in2 (59.3 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,230,000 lbf/in2 (8.48 GPa) Crushing Strength: 5,320 lbf/in2 (36.7 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 3.4%, Tangential: 6.7%, Volumetric: 11.6%, T/R Ratio: 2.0
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light to medium brown, darkening to a reddish brown with age. Narrow sapwood is well-defined and is pale white to light brown. Wormy Chestnut is also seen, which is chestnut that has been damaged by insects, leaving holes and other discoloration in the wood.
Grain/Texture: Grain is straight to spiral or interlocked. With a coarse, uneven texture. Endgrain: Ring-porous; 2-4 rows of large, exclusively solitary earlywood pores, numerous small latewood pores in dendritic arrangement; tyloses common; growth rings distinct; rays not visible without lens; apotracheal parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates (short lines between rays).
Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable, though many trees killed by the chestnut blight of the early 1900s were left standing and eventually were damaged by insects.
Workability: Overall easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Chestnut splits easily, so care must be taken in nailing and screwing the wood. Due to its coarse texture, turning is mediocre. Glues, stains, and finishes well.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although no adverse health effects have specifically been reported for American Chestnut (Castanea dentata), other types of Chestnut in the Castanea genus (C. sativa and C. mollissima) have been reported to cause skin irritation.
Pricing/Availability: Because of the blight wiping out nearly all mature American Chestnut trees, its lumber is both rare and (relatively) valuable. Wormy Chestnut in particular is usually salvaged from old barns and other structures, and reprocessed and sold as reclaimed lumber. Prices are likely to be high for a domestic hardwood.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Flooring, rustic furniture, shingles, and reclaimed lumber. Comments: Wormy Chestnut is not a distinct species of Chestnut, but rather refers to trees that were killed by the chestnut blight of the early 1900s, caused by an accidentally introduced Asian bark fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica); the wood was subsequently damaged by insects, leaving holes and discoloration in the standing trees. The trees were then subsequently harvested and converted into lumber. Between the nail holes, discoloration, worm and insect damage, Wormy Chestnut is preferred in applications where a rustic or unpolished appearance is desired.
Related Species: Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) , Wormy Chestnut

 

 
Common Name(s): Sycamore, American Plane
Scientific Name: Castanea dentata
Distribution: Eastern United States
Tree Size: 120 ft (37 m) tall, 3 ft (1 m) trunk diameterAverage Dried Weight: 37 lbs/ft3 (600 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .46, .60 Janka Hardness: 770 lbf (3,430 N) Modulus of Rupture: 10,000 lbf/in2 (69.0 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,420,000 lbf/in2 (9.79 GPa) Crushing Strength: 5,380 lbf/in2 (37.1 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 5.0%, Tangential: 8.4%, Volumetric: 14.1%, T/R Ratio: 1.7
Color/Appearance: Similar to maple, the wood of Sycamore trees is predominantly comprised of the sapwood, with some darker heartwood streaks also found in most boards. (Though it is not uncommon to also see entire boards of heartwood too.) The sapwood is white to light tan, while the heartwood is a darker reddish brown. Sycamore also has very distinct ray flecks present on quartersawn surfaces—giving it a freckled appearance—and it is sometimes even called “Lacewood,” though it bears little botanical relation to the tropical species of Lacewood.
Grain/Texture: Sycamore has a fine and even texture that is very similar to maple. The grain is interlocked. Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; small pores gradually becoming less frequent from earlywood to latewood; solitary and in multiples and clusters; tyloses occasionally present; growth rings distinct due to lighter color of latewood and decreased pore frequency; rays easily visible without lens, noded; parenchyma rare or absent.
Rot Resistance: Sycamore is rated as non-durable to perishable regarding decay resistance, and is susceptible to insect attack.
Workability: Overall, Sycamore works easily with both hand and machine tools, though the interlocked grain can be troublesome in surfacing and machining operations at times. Sycamore turns, glues, and finishes well. Responds poorly to steam bending.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: There have been no adverse health effects associated with Sycamore.
Pricing/Availability: Usually moderately priced, though Sycamore is commonly sold as quartersawn boards, which can increase the cost.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, interior trim, pallets/crates, flooring, furniture, particleboard, paper (pulpwood), tool handles, and other turned objects.
Related Species: London Plane (Platanus x hybrida) -Not to be confused with European Sycamore—which is actually just a species of maple (Acer pseudoplatanus)—Sycamore is sometimes referred to as “American Plane” in Europe

 

 

 

Common Name(s): Apple, Crab Apple, Wild Apple
Scientific Name: Malus spp. (Malus domestica, Malus sieversii, Malus sylvestris, etc.)
Distribution: Found throughout most temperate climates
Tree Size: 13-30 ft (4-9 m) tall, 1 ft (.3 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 52 lbs/ft3 (830 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .61, .83 Janka Hardness: 1,730 lbf (7,700 N) Modulus of Rupture: 12,800 lbf/in2 (88.3 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,270,000 lbf/in2 (8.76 GPa) Crushing Strength: 6,030 lbf/in2 (41.6 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 5.6%, Tangential: 10.1%, Volumetric: 17.6%, T/R Ratio: 1.8
Color/Appearance: Heartwood can vary from a light reddish or grayish brown to a deeper red/brown. The grain of Apple is sometimes seen with streaks of darker and lighter bands of color, similar to Olive. Sapwood is a pale cream color
Grain/Texture: Grain is straight (though on some sections of the tree it can also be wild). With a very fine, uniform texture, closely resembling Cherry. Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; small to very-small pores tending to occur in increased frequency in earlywood zone; exclusively solitary; growth rings distinct; rays usually not visible without lens; parenchyma not typically visible with lens.
Rot Resistance: Apple is rated as non-durable for heartwood decay.
Workability: Apple can be somewhat difficult to work due to its high density, and can burn easily when being machined. Apple glues, stains, finishes, and turns well.
Odor: Apple has a faint, sweet scent while being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity: There have been no adverse health effects associated with Apple.
Pricing/Availability: Apple is seldom available in lumber form, and is usually seen only in very small sizes when available. Likely to be rather expensive, and is usually meant for only small projects and specialized applications.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Fine furniture, tool handles, carving, mallet heads, turned items, and other small specialty wood objects.
Related Species: None.

 

 
Common Name(s): Aromatic Red Cedar, Eastern Redcedar
Scientific Name: Juniperus virginiana
Distribution: Eastern North America
Tree Size: 100-115 ft (30-35 m) tall, 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 33 lbs/ft3 (535 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .44, .53 Janka Hardness: 900 lbf (4,000 N) Modulus of Rupture: 8,800 lbf/in2 (60.7 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 880,000 lbf/in2 (6.07 GPa) Crushing Strength: 6,020 lbf/in2 (41.5 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 3.1%, Tangential: 4.7%, Volumetric: 7.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.5
Color/Appearance: Heartwood tends to be a reddish or violet-brown. Sapwood is a pale yellow color, and can be appear throughout the heartwood as streaks and stripes.
Grain/Texture: Has a straight grain, usually with knots present. Has a very fine even texture. Endgrain: Resin canals absent; earlywood to latewood transition gradual, grain moderately uneven to moderately even; tracheid diameter small to very small; zonate parenchyma (double ring).
Rot Resistance: Regarded as excellent in resistance to both decay and insect attack, Aromatic Red Cedar is frequently used for fence posts used in direct ground contact with no pre-treating of the wood.
Workability: Overall, Aromatic Red Cedar is easy to work, notwithstanding any knots or irregularities present in the wood. It reportedly has a high silica content, which can dull cutters. Aromatic Red Cedar glues and finishes well, though in many applications, the wood is left unfinished to preserve its aromatic properties.
Odor: Aromatic Red Cedar has a distinct and tell-tale scent: the wood is commonly used in closets and chests to repel moths and other insects.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Aromatic Red Cedar has been reported to cause skin and respiratory irritation.
Pricing/Availability: Large and/or clear sections of Aromatic Red Cedar are much less common, but smaller, narrower boards with knots present are readily available at a modest price.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Fence posts, closet and chest linings, carvings, outdoor furniture, pencils, bows, and small wooden specialty items..
Related Species: African Juniper (Juniperus procera),Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana). Southern Redcedar (Juniperus silicicola) :
Comments: Although Aromatic Red Cedar is included in the cypress family (Cupressaceae) which includes many species of cedar, it’s perhaps more closely related in junipers in the genus Juniperus. In tree form, it is more commonly called Eastern Redcedar, while the wood itself is usually referred to as Aromatic Red Cedar. Though Eastern Redcedar trees are widely distributed throughout the eastern half of the United States, it is a very slow-growing species, and most trees harvested tend to be fairly small in diameter. Because of this, Aromatic Red Cedar boards tend to be knotty and narrow.

 

 
Common Name(s): White Ash, American White Ash
Scientific Name: Fraxinus americana
Distribution: Eastern North America
Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-5 ft (.6-1.5 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 42 lbs/ft3 (675 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .55, .67 Janka Hardness: 1,320 lbf (5,870 N) Modulus of Rupture: 15,000 lbf/in2 (103.5 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,740,000 lbf/in2 (12.00 GPa) Crushing Strength: 7,410 lbf/in2 (51.1 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 4.9%, Tangential: 7.8%, Volumetric: 13.3%, T/R Ratio: 1.6
Color/Appearance: The heartwood is a light brown color, though darker shades can also be seen, which is sometimes sold as Olive Ash. Sapwood can be very wide, and tends to be a beige or light brown; not always clearly or sharply demarcated from heartwood.
Grain/Texture: Has a medium to coarse texture similar to oak. The grain is almost always straight and regular, though sometimes moderately curly or figured boards can be found. Endgrain: Ring-porous; large earlywood pores 2-4 rows wide, small latewood pores solitary and radial multiples; tyloses common; parenchyma banded (marginal), paratracheal parenchyma around latewood pores vasicentric, winged and confluent; narrow rays, spacing normal.
Rot Resistance: Heartwood is rated as perishable, or only slightly durable in regard to decay. Ash is also not resistant to insect attack.
Workability: Produces good results with hand or machine tools. Responds well to steam bending. Glues, stains, and finishes well.
Odor: Can have a distinct, moderately unpleasant smell when being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity: Ash in the Fraxinus genus has been reported to cause skin irritation, and a decrease in lung function.
Pricing/Availability: Ash is among the least expensive utility hardwoods available domestically; it should compare similarly to oak in terms of price.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Flooring, millwork, boxes/crates, baseball bats, and other turned objects such as tool handles.
Related Species: Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra), Blue Ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata), European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia), Pumpkin Ash (Fraxinus profunda), Olive Ash
Comments: Among the most common species of ash that are seen commercially, some basic divisions can be made; the first is between White Ash (Fraxinus americana) and Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra). White Ash tends to have a lighter heartwood color, and wider spaced growth rings. By contrast, the heartwood color of Black Ash tends to be slightly darker, and the growth rings are typically much closer together.

 

 
Common Name(s): Big Leaf Maple Burl , Birds Eye Maple
Scientific Name: Acer macrophyllum
Distribution: Coastal regions of Pacific North America
Tree Size: 80-100 ft (25-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 34lbs/ft3 (545 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .44, .55 Janka Hardness: 850 lbf (3,780 N) Modulus of Rupture: 10,700 lbf/in2 (73.8 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,450,000 lbf/in2 (10.00 GPa) Crushing Strength: 5,950 lbf/in2 (41.0 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 3.7%, Tangential: 7.1%, Volumetric: 11.6%, T/R Ratio: 1.9
Color/Appearance: Unlike most other hardwoods, the sapwood of maple lumber is most commonly used rather than its heartwood. Sapwood color ranges from almost white, to a light golden or reddish brown, while the heartwood is a darker reddish brown. Silver Maple can also be seen with curly or quilted grain patterns.
Grain/Texture: Has closed pores and a fine texture. The growth rings tend to be lighter and less distinct in Soft Maples than in Hard Maple.
Rot Resistance: Rated as non-durable to perishable in regard to decay resistance..
Workability: Fairly easy to work with both hand and machine tools, though maple has a tendency to burn when being machined with high-speed cutters such as in a router. Turns, glues, and finishes well, though blotches can occur when staining, and a pre-conditioner, gel stain, or toner may be necessary to get an even color
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Bigleaf Maple, along with other maples in the Acer genus have been reported to cause skin irritation, runny nose, and asthma-like respiratory effects.
Pricing/Availability: Should be very moderately priced, though figured pieces such as curly or quilted grain patterns are likely to be much more expensive.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Veneer, paper (pulpwood), boxes, crates/pallets, musical instruments, turned objects, and other small specialty wood items.
Related Species: •Black Maple (Acer nigrum) •Box Elder (Acer negundo) •Field Maple (Acer campestre) •Hard Maple (Acer saccharum) •Red Maple (Acer rubrum) •Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) •Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum) •Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) •Ambrosia Maple •Birdseye Maple •Curly Maple •Quilted Maple •Soft Maple •Spalted Maple
Comments: Bigleaf Maple is appropriately named, as its leaves are the largest of any maple, commonly reaching an overall width of 6 to 12 inches (15-30 cm) across. Bigleaf Maple is a commercially important hardwood timber for the United States’ west coast, where it is virtually the only commercial maple species in the region. Bigleaf Maple is considered to be in the grouping of Soft Maples, and its wood is lighter, softer, and weaker than that of Hard Maple.

 

 
Common Name(s): Birch, Yellow Birch, Flame Birch
Scientific Name: Betula alleghaniensis
Distribution: Northeastern North America
Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 46 lbs/ft3 (740 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .55, .74 Janka Hardness: 1,260 lbf (5,610 N) Modulus of Rupture: 16,600 lbf/in2 (114.5 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 2,010,000 lbf/in2 (13.86 GPa) Crushing Strength: 8,170 lbf/in2 (56.3 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 7.3%, Tangential: 9.5%, Volumetric: 16.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.3
Color/Appearance: Heartwood tends to be a light reddish brown, with nearly white sapwood. Occasionally figured pieces are available with a wide, shallow curl similar to the curl found in Cherry. There is virtually no color distinction between annual growth rings, giving Birch a somewhat dull, uniform appearance.
Grain/Texture: Grain is generally straight or slightly wavy, with a fine, even texture. Low natural luster. Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; primarily radial multiples; medium pores in no specific arrangement, moderately numerous to numerous; parenchyma maringal, and sometimes diffuse-in-aggregates (faintly visible with lens); narrow rays, spacing fairly close to close. .
Rot Resistance: Birch is perishable, and will readily rot and decay if exposed to the elements. The wood is also susceptible to insect attack.
Workability: Generally easy to work with hand and machine tools, though boards with wild grain can cause grain tearout during machining operations. Turns, glues, and finishes well.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Birch in the Betula genus has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include skin and respiratory irritation.
Pricing/Availability: Likely to be rather economical in most instances. Figured boards can be more expensive, but normally plain birch lumber is in the same price range as maple or oak.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Plywood, boxes, crates, turned objects, interior trim, and other small specialty wood items.
Related Species: •Alaska Paper Birch (Betula neoalaskana) •Alder-leaf Birch (Betula alnoides) •Downy Birch (Betula pubescens) •Gray Birch (Betula populifolia) •Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) •River Birch (Betula nigra) •Silver Birch (Betula pendula) •Sweet Birch (Betula lenta) •Masur Birch
Comments: Birch is one of the most widely used woods for veneer and plywood worldwide. Besides regular sheets of plywood, Birch veneer is also used for doors, furniture, and paneling

 

 
Common Name(s): Butternut, White Walnut
Scientific Name: Juglans cinerea
Distribution: Eastern United States
Tree Size: 100 ft (30 m) tall, 3 ft (1 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 29 lbs/ft3 (460 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .36, .46 Janka Hardness: 490 lbf (2,180 N) Modulus of Rupture: 8,100 lbf/in2 (55.9 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,180,000 lbf/in2 (8.14 GPa) Crushing Strength: 5,110 lbf/in2 (35.2 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 3.4%, Tangential: 6.4%, Volumetric: 10.6%, T/R Ratio: 1.9
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is usually a light to medium tan, sometimes with a reddish tint. Growth rings are darker and form fairly distinct grain patterns. Sapwood is a pale yellowish white.
Grain/Texture: Grain is typically straight, with a medium to coarse texture. Silky natural luster. Endgrain: Semi-ring-porous; medium-large earlywood pores gradually decreasing to small latewood pores; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses occasionally to abundantly present; growth rings distinct; rays barely visible without lens; parenchyma banded (marginal), apotracheal parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates (sometimes very faint and barely visible even with lens).
Rot Resistance: Decay resistance is rated as moderately durable to non-durable.; also susceptible to insect attack..
Workability: Butternut is easily worked with both hand and machine tools. However, being so soft, Butternut has a tendency to leave some fuzzy surfaces after planing or sanding, and sharp cutters and fine-grit sandpaper is recommended. Butternut glues, stains, and finishes well.
Odor: Butternut has virtually no scent or odor when being worked
Allergies/Toxicity: There have been no adverse health effects associated with Butternut.
Pricing/Availability: Butternut should be inexpensive, especially within its native range in the eastern United States.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Veneer, carving, furniture, interior trim, boxes, and crates.
Related Species: •Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) •Claro Walnut (Juglans hindsii) •English Walnut (Juglans regia) •Peruvian Walnut (Juglans spp.)
Comments: Sometimes called White Walnut, Butternut is indeed closely related to Black Walnut. While the difference is not black and white, the wood of Butternut is considerably lighter-colored than Black Walnut, as well as being very soft and lightweight. Butternut trees can be distinguished from Black Walnut by looking at its fruit: Butternut’s fruit is more oblong or oval shaped, while Walnut is nearly round; (see illustration below). The commercial potential of Butternut’s edible fruit (nuts) is generally regarded as being more valuable than its lumber. (Butternuts are not related to Butternut squash, which comes from an unrelated plant—Cucurbita moschata.)

 

 
Common Name(s): Black Cherry, Cherry, American Cherry
Scientific Name: Prunus serotina
Distribution: Eastern North America
Tree Size: 50-100 ft (15-30 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 37 lbs/ft3 (595 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .47, .59 Janka Hardness: 950 lbf (4,230 N) Modulus of Rupture: 12,300 lbf/in2 (84.8 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,490,000 lbf/in2 (10.30 GPa) Crushing Strength: 7,110 lbf/in2 (49.0 MPa) Shrinkage:Radial: 3.7%, Tangential: 7.1%, Volumetric: 11.5%, T/R Ratio: 1.9
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light pinkish brown when freshly cut, darkening to a deeper golden brown with time and upon exposure to light. Sapwood is a pale yellowish color.
Grain/Texture: Has a fine texture with close grain. The grain is usually straight and easy to work—with the exception of figured pieces with curly grain patterns. Endgrain: Semi-ring-porous to diffuse-porous; small pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; mineral/gum deposits occasionally present; growth rings usually distinct due to a concentration of earlywood pores; rays visible without lens; parenchyma absent.
Rot Resistance: Heartwood is rated as being very durable and resistant to decay.
Workability: Wild Cherry is easy to work with both machine and hand tools. The only difficulties typically arise if the wood is being stained, as it can sometimes give blotchy results due to its fine, close grain. A sanding sealer or gel stain is recommended. Glues, turns, and finishes well.
Odor: Has a mild, distinctive scent when being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity: Breathing Cherry’s sawdust has been associated with respiratory effects such as wheezing.
Pricing/Availability: Since Cherry is a domestic lumber, prices should be moderate, though it should typically cost more than oak or maple, usually close to the price of walnut.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Veneer, furniture, cabinetry, turned objects, musical instruments, and carvings.
Related Species: •Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) •Plum (Prunus domestica) )
Comments: Cherry has a decent strength-to-weight ratio, though it’s not as hard as some other denser domestic hardwoods. Cherry is commonly used in furniture construction and turned items. It is said that Cherry’s colors can quickly be darkened and aged by exposing it to direct sunlight.Wild Cherry is the Old World counterpart to Black Cherry found in the New World. Wild Cherry is said to exhibit a bit more of a color contrast than Black Cherry, and it also tends to be slightly denser and stronger. However, the tree itself tends to be smaller than Prunus serotina, and does not yield the larger sizes of lumber that are available for the American species.

 

 
Common Name(s): Black Walnut
Scientific Name: Juglans nigra
Distribution: Eastern United States
Tree Size: 120 ft (37 m) tall, 3 ft (1 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 41 lbs/ft3 (655 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .51, .66 Janka Hardness: 1,010 lbf (4,490 N) Modulus of Rupture: 14,600 lbf/in2 (100.7 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,680,000 lbf/in2 (11.59 GPa) Crushing Strength: 7,580 lbf/in2 (52.3 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 5.5%, Tangential: 7.8%, Volumetric: 12.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.4
Color/Appearance: Heartwood can range from a lighter pale brown to a dark chocolate brown with darker brown streaks. Color can sometimes have a grey, purple, or reddish cast. Sapwood is pale yellow-gray to nearly white. Figured grain patterns such as curl, crotch, and burl are also seen.
Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight, but can be irregular. Has a medium texture and moderate natural luster. Endgrain: Semi-ring-porous; large earlywood pores grading to medium latewood pores, few; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses occasionally to abundantly present; growth rings distinct; rays barely visible without lens; parenchyma banded (marginal), apotracheal parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates (sometimes very faint and barely visible even with lens).
Rot Resistance: Black Walnut is rated as very durable in terms of decay resistance, though it is susceptible to insect attack.
Workability: Typically easy to work provided the grain is straight and regular. Planer tearout can sometimes be a problem when surfacing pieces with irregular or figured grain. Glues, stains, and finishes well, (though walnut is rarely stained). Responds well to steam bending.
Odor: Black Walnut has a faint, mild odor when being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Black Walnut has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye and skin irritation.
Pricing/Availability: Very popular and widely available, though board widths can sometimes be narrow. Considered a premium domestic hardwood, prices are in the high range for a domestic species.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Furniture, cabinetry, gunstocks, interior paneling, veneer, turned items, and other small wooden objects and novelties
Related Species: •Butternut (Juglans cinerea) •Claro Walnut (Juglans hindsii) •English Walnut (Juglans regia) •Peruvian Walnut (Juglans spp.)
Comments: It would be hard to overstate Black Walnut’s popularity among woodworkers in the United States. Its cooperative working characteristics, coupled with its rich brown coloration puts the wood in a class by itself among temperate-zone hardwoods. To cap it off, the wood also has good dimensional stability, shock resistance, and strength properties.

 

 
Common Name(s): Hickory, Shagbark Hickory
Scientific Name: Carya ovata
Distribution: Eastern United States
Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 1-2 ft (.3-.6 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 50 lbs/ft3 (800 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .64, .80 Janka Hardness: 1,880 lbf (8,360 N) Modulus of Rupture: 20,200 lbf/in2 (139.3 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 2,160,000 lbf/in2 (14.90 GPa) Crushing Strength: 9,210 lbf/in2 (63.5 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 7.0%, Tangential: 10.5%, Volumetric: 16.7%, T/R Ratio: 1.5
Color/Appearance: Heartwood tends to be light to medium brown, with a reddish hue; sapwood is a paler yellowish brown.
Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight, though occasionally wavy, with a medium texture. Endgrain: Ring-porous; large to very large earlywood pores in a single intermittent row, medium to small latewood pores solitary and radial multiples of 2-3, few; tyloses common; parenchyma reticulate (bands absent from earlywood row in true hickory group, but present in pecan hickory group); narrow rays, close spacing.
Rot Resistance: Considered to be non-durable to perishable regarding heartwood decay, and also very susceptible to insect attack
Workability: Difficult to work, with tearout being common during machining operations if cutting edges are not kept sharp; the wood tends to blunt cutting edges. Glues, stains, and finishes well. Responds well to steam bending.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: There have been no adverse health effects associated with Shagbark Hickory.
Pricing/Availability: Various species of Hickory and Pecan (Carya genus) are typically mixed together and simply sold as Hickory. Prices are usually in the low to mid range, depending upon local availability. Hickory prices should compare similarly to other utility hardwoods such as Red Oak or Soft Maple.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Tool handles, ladder rungs, wheel spokes, flooring, etc
Related Species: •Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis) •Mockernut Hickory (Carya tomentosa) •Nutmeg Hickory (Carya myristiciformis) •Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) •Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra) •Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa) •Water Hickory (Carya aquatica)
Comments: Hickory is among the hardest and strongest of woods native to the United States. On average, Hickory is denser, stiffer, and harder than either White Oak or Hard Maple. The wood is commonly used where strength or shock-resistance is important. Shagbark Hickory falls into the True-Hickory grouping, and is considered to be a ring-porous wood. The strength characteristics of Hickory are influenced considerably by the spacing of its growth rings. In general, wood from faster-growing trees, with wider spaced growth rings, tends to be harder, heavier, and stronger than wood from slower-growing trees that have rings which are closer together. In addition to strength and hardness applications, the wood of Carya species also has a very high thermal energy content when burned, and is sometimes used as fuelwood for wood stoves. Additionally, Hickory is also used as charcoal in cooking meat, with the smoke imparting additional flavor to the food

 

 
Common Name(s): Holly, American Holly
Scientific Name: Ilex opaca
Distribution: Eastern United States
Tree Size: 50 ft (15 m) tall, 2 ft (.6 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 42 lbs/ft3 (675 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .50, .67 Janka Hardness: 1,020 lbf (4,540 N) Modulus of Rupture: 10,300 lbf/in2 (71.0 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,110,000 lbf/in2 (7.66 GPa) Crushing Strength: 5,540 lbf/in2 (38.2 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 4.8%, Tangential: 9.9%, Volumetric: 16.9%, T/R Ratio: 2.1
Color/Appearance: Ideal lumber has a very uniform, pale white color with virtually no visible grain pattern. Knots are common, which can reduce the usable area of the wood. Can develop a bluish/gray fungal stain if not dried rapidly after cutting. Holly is usually cut during the winter and kiln dried shortly thereafter to preserve the white color of the wood.
Grain/Texture: Grain is interlocked and irregular. Medium to fine uniform texture with moderate natural luster. Endgrain: Diffuse-porous or semi-ring-porous; very small pores predominantly in radial multiples of 2-4, commonly arranged in radial rows; growth rings may be distinct due to an intermittent row of earlywood pores; rays visible without lens; parenchyma not typically visible with lens.
Rot Resistance: Rated as non-durable or perishable, and susceptible to insect attack..
Workability: Can be difficult to work on account of the numerous knots and interlocked grain. Glues, stains, and finishes well, and is sometimes stained black as a substitute for Ebony. Turns well on the lathe.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: There have been no adverse health effects associated with Holly.
Pricing/Availability: Seldom available for commercial sale, Holly is an expensive domestic lumber, and is usually only available in small quantities and sizes
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Inlays, furniture, piano keys (dyed black), broom and brush handles, turned objects, and other small novelty items.
Related Species: •Cape Holly (Ilex mitis) •English Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
Comments: Holly is typically used only for ornamental and decorative purposes. It has a fairly large shrinkage rate, with a lot of seasonal movement in service, and its strength properties are mediocre for a hardwood.

 

 
Common Name(s): Pacific Yew, Oregon Yew
Scientific Name: Taxus brevifolia
Distribution: Pacific Northwest North America
Tree Size: 30-50 ft (10-15 m) tall, 1-2 ft (.3-.6 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 46 lbs/ft3 (745 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .60, .74 Janka Hardness: 1,600 lbf (7,120 N) Modulus of Rupture: 15,200 lbf/in2 (104.8 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,350,000 lbf/in2 (9.31 GPa) Crushing Strength: 8,100 lbf/in2 (55.9 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 4.0%, Tangential: 5.4%, Volumetric: 9.7%, T/R Ratio: 1.4
Color/Appearance: Sapwood is usually a thin band of pale yellow or tan color, while the heartwood is an orangish brown, sometimes with a darker brown or purplish hue. Color tends to darken with age.
Grain/Texture: Pacific Yew has a tight grain, a fine texture, and a natural luster. As with all softwoods, the pores are closed. Yew is not commonly available in large or wide boards, and knots and other defects are commonly present, as well as sections with wild or irregular grain. Endgrain: Resin canals absent; earlywood to latewood transition gradual, color contrast medium; tracheid diameter very small.
Rot Resistance: Pacific Yew is very durable in regard to decay resistance, and is also resistant to most insect attack.
Workability: Overall, an easy wood to work, though knots and other grain irregularities can pose a challenge. Yew glues, finishes, and turns well.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Yew has been reported as a irritant. Usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation, as well as nausea. Additionally, nearly all parts of the Yew tree are considered toxic and poisonous to humans, and care should be exercised when working with this wood species.
Pricing/Availability: Yew is relatively uncommon, and larger tree trunks are usually hollow. Selection and sizes are somewhat limited, especially since most trunks are also full of knots, resulting in a high waste factor for many projects. Though sections of wood can sometimes be obtained for moderate prices, the overall cost of usable wood tends to be high.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is reported by the IUCN as being near threatened. Technically it doesn’t meet the Red List criteria of a vulnerable or endangered species, but is close to qualifying and/or may qualify in the near future. Common Uses: Bows (archery), veneer, cabinetry, furniture, carvings, musical instruments (lutes), and turned objects.
Related Species: •European Yew (Taxus baccata)
Comments: Perhaps among the hardest of all softwood species, Yew is certainly a unique wood species. Its density and working characteristics are more inline with a heavy hardwood than a softwood, yet its tight, fine grain and smooth texture give it a lustrous finish. Yet perhaps Yew’s greatest claim to fame is that of its mechanical properties: despite its strength and density, Yew has an incredibly low and disproportionate modulus of elasticity at only 1,320,000 lbf/in2 (9,100 MPa). What this means is that the wood is extremely flexible, yet strong, making it ideally suited for use in archery bows. In fact, Yew was the wood of choice for English longbows in medieval warfare.

 

 
Common Name(s): Poplar, Tulip Poplar, Yellow Poplar
Scientific Name: Liriodendron tulipifera
Distribution: Eastern United States
Tree Size: 130-160 ft (40-50 m) tall, 6-8 ft (1.8-2.5 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 29 lbs/ft3 (455 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .40, .46 Janka Hardness: 540 lbf (2,400 N) Modulus of Rupture: 10,100 lbf/in2 (69.7 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,580,000 lbf/in2 (10.90 GPa) Crushing Strength: 5,540 lbf/in2 (38.2 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 4.6%, Tangential: 8.2%, Volumetric: 12.7%, T/R Ratio: 1.8
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is light cream to yellowish brown, with occasional streaks of gray or green. Sapwood is pale yellow to white, not always clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Can also be seen in mineral stained colors ranging from dark purple to red, green, or yellow, sometimes referred to as Rainbow Poplar. Colors tend to darken upon exposure to light.
Grain/Texture: Poplar typically has a straight, uniform grain, with a medium texture. Low natural luster. Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; small pores in no specific arrangement; solitary and radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses occasionally present; growth rings distinct due to marginal parenchyma and noded rays; rays not visible without lens; parenchyma banded (marginal).
Rot Resistance: Heartwood is rated as being moderately durable to non-durable; susceptible to insect attack..
Workability: Very easy to work in almost all regards, one of Poplar’s only downsides is its softness. Due to its low density, Poplar can sometimes leave fuzzy surfaces and edges: especially during shaping or sanding. Sanding to finer grits of sandpaper may be necessary to obtain a smooth surface.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Poplar has been reported as an irritant; usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation, as well as asthma-like symptoms.
Pricing/Availability: Among the most economical and inexpensive of all domestic hardwoods. Poplar should be affordably priced, especially in the Eastern United States where it naturally grows.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.. Common Uses: Seldom used for its appearance, (except in the case of Rainbow Poplar), Poplar is a utility wood in nearly every sense. It’s used for pallets, crates, upholstered furniture frames, paper (pulpwood), and plywood. Poplar veneer is also used for a variety of applications: either dyed in various colors, or on hidden undersides of veneered panels to counteract the pull of the glue on an exposed side that has been veneered with another, more decorative wood species.
Related Species: None available.
Comments: Poplar is one of the most common utility hardwoods in the United States. Though the wood is commonly referred to simply as “Poplar,” it is technically not in the Populus genus itself, (the genus also includes many species of Cottonwood and Aspen), but is instead in the Liriodendron genus, which is Latin for “lily tree.” The flowers of this tree look similar to tulips, hence the common alternate name: Tulip Poplar.

 

 
Common Name(s): Port Orford Cedar, Lawson’s Cypress
Scientific Name: Chamaecyparis lawsoniana
Distribution: Pacific Northwest North America
Tree Size: 150-200 ft (46-61 m) tall, 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 29 lbs/ft3 (465 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .39, .47 Janka Hardness: 590 lbf (2,620 N) Modulus of Rupture: 12,290 lbf/in2 (84.8 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,646,000 lbf/in2 (11.35 GPa) Crushing Strength: 6,080 lbf/in2 (41.9 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 4.6%, Tangential: 6.9%, Volumetric: 10.1%, T/R Ratio: 1.5
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light yellowish brown. Sapwood is pale yellow-brown to almost white and isn’t clearly distinguished from the heartwood. Color tends to darken with age upon exposure to light, (though when left exposed outdoors it weathers to a uniform gray).
Grain/Texture: Port Orford Cedar is sometimes used for making arrow shafts, and the grain is “straight as an arrow,” with a uniform medium to fine texture. Endgrain: Resin canals absent; earlywood to latewood transition gradual, color contrast medium; tracheid diameter medium-large; zonate parenchyma.
Rot Resistance: Reported to be durable to very durable regarding decay resistance, and also resistant to most insect attacks. (Also reported to have good resistance to acid corrosion—Port Orford Cedar was used for storage battery separators during and prior to World War II.)
Workability: Overall, an easy wood to work, though knots and other grain irregularities can pose a challenge. Yew glues, finishes, and turns well.
Odor: Port Orford Cedar has a pungent, ginger-like scent.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Port Orford Cedar has been reported to cause skin irritation, runny nose, and asthma-like symptoms in some individuals. Because prolonged and continual inhalation of the sawdust is known to cause kidney problems, many occupational workers wear face masks when working with Port Orford Cedar.
Pricing/Availability: Due to the limited growing range, Port Orford Cedar’s demand usually exceeds its supply. Expect availability to be limited, and prices to very high for a domestic softwood wood species. Many logs are exported to Japan for use in woodenware, toys, and other small novelties, as well as for repair and construction in houses, shrines, and temples.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of over 20% in the past three generations, caused by exploitation, and the fungal root infection Phytophthora lateralis. Common Uses: Arrow shafts, musical instruments (soundboards on guitars), boatbuilding, boxes and chests, decking, and various interior millwork applications.
Related Species: •Alaskan Yellow Cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) •Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides)
Comments: So named because it was first discovered near Port Orford in Oregon. Port Orford Cedar is perhaps a hidden gem in the realm of strong, lightweight timber, possessing superb strength-to-weight ratios in both modulus of elasticity and modulus of rupture, as well as crushing strength.

 

 
Common Name(s): Redwood, Sequoia, Coast Redwood, California Redwood
Scientific Name: Sequoia sempervirens
Distribution: Pacific Northwest North America
Tree Size: 200-300 ft (60-90 m) tall, 6-12 ft (1.8-3.7 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 27 lbs/ft3 (435 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .36, .43 Janka Hardness: 450 lbf (2,000 N) Modulus of Rupture: 8,950 lbf/in2 (61.7 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,220,000 lbf/in2 (8.41 GPa) Crushing Strength: 5,690 lbf/in2 (39.2 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 2.4%, Tangential: 4.7%, Volumetric: 6.9%, T/R Ratio: 2.0
Color/Appearance: Heartwood color can range from a light pinkish brown to a deep reddish brown. Sapwood is a pale white/yellow.
Grain/Texture: Redwood has closed pores and a medium texture. The grain is typically straight, but may occasionally be wavy or irregular. Figure such as curly grain and/or burl clusters are occasionally seen. Endgrain: Resin canals absent; earlywood to latewood transition abrupt, color contrast medium-high; tracheid diameter large-very large; parenchyma diffuse (usually visible with hand lens).
Rot Resistance: Rated as moderately durable to very durable regarding decay resistance. Lumber from old-growth trees tends to be more durable than that from younger second-growth trees.
Workability: Typically easy to work with hand tools or machinery, but planer tearout can occur on figured pieces with curly, wavy, or irregular grain. Glues and finishes well
Odor: Redwood has a distinct odor when being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Redwood has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye, skin, and respiratory irritation, as well as asthma-like symptoms.
Pricing/Availability: Should be moderately priced as a construction lumber, though clear and/or figured woodworking lumber is likely to be much more expensive.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, but is on the IUCN Red List. It is listed as vulnerable due to a population reduction of approximately 40% in the past three generations, caused by a decline in its natural range, and exploitation. Common Uses: Veneer, construction lumber, beams, posts, decking, exterior furniture, and trim. Burls and other forms of figured Redwood are also used in turning, musical instruments, and other small specialty items..
Related Species: None available.
Comments: Capable of attaining heights of nearly 400 feet, Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is the world’s tallest tree species. It grows in a very limited area on the Pacific coast of northwestern United States, where heavy rainfall and cool, damp air create a unique environment for these trees. Redwood’s IUCN status is currently listed as vulnerable, but not endangered. A related species, (Sequoiadendron giganteum), sometimes known as Giant Sequoia or Wellingtonia, produces similar lumber

 

 
Common Name(s): Southern Red Oak, Spanish Oak
Scientific Name: Quercus falcata
Distribution: Southeastern United States
Tree Size: 80-100 ft (25-30 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 43 lbs/ft3 (695 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .52, .69 Janka Hardness: 1,060 lbf (4,720 N) Modulus of Rupture: 10,900 lbf/in2 (75.2 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,490,000 lbf/in2 (10.30 GPa) Crushing Strength: 6,090 lbf/in2 (42.0 MPa) Shrinkage:Radial: 4.7%, Tangential: 11.3%, Volumetric: 16.1%, T/R Ratio: 2.4
Color/Appearance: Has a light to medium reddish-brown color, though there can be a fair amount of variation in color. Conversely, White Oak tends to be slightly more olive-colored, but is by no means a reliable method of determining the type of oak.
Grain/Texture: Has medium-to-large pores and a fairly coarse grain
Rot Resistance: Red oaks such as Southern Red Oak do not have the level of decay and rot resistance that White Oaks possess. Durability should be considered minimal.
Workability: Easy to glue, and takes stain and finishes very well.
Odor: Has a tell-tale smell that is common to most oaks. Most find it appealing.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, oak has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye and skin irritation, as well as asthma-like symptoms.
Pricing/Availability: Slightly less expensive than White Oak, Red Oak is in good/sustainable supply and is moderately priced. Thicker 8/4 planks, or quartersawn boards are slightly more expensive per board foot.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, and veneer.
Related Species: •Black Oak (Quercus velutina) •Bog Oak •Brown Oak •Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) •California Black Oak (Quercus kelloggii) •Cherrybark Oak (Quercus pagoda) •Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinus) •English Oak (Quercus robur) •Holm Oak (Quercus ilex) •Laurel Oak (Quercus laurifolia) •Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) •Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana) •Overcup Oak (Quercus lyrata) •Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) •Post Oak (Quercus stellata) •Red Oak (Quercus rubra) •Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) •Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea) •Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus michauxii) •Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) •Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) •Water Oak (Quercus nigra) •White Oak (Quercus alba) •Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)
Comments: Southern Red Oak falls into the red oak group, and shares many of the same traits as Red Oak (Quercus rubra). Red Oak, along with its brother White Oak, are commonly used domestic lumber species. Hard, strong, and moderately priced, Red Oak presents an exceptional value to woodworkers—which explains why it is so widely used in cabinet and furniture making.

 

 
Common Name(s): Sassafras
Scientific Name: Sassafras albidum
Distribution: Eastern United States
Tree Size: 50-65 ft (15-20 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 31 lbs/ft3 (495 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .42, .50 Janka Hardness: 630 lbf (2,800 N) Modulus of Rupture: 9,000 lbf/in2 (62.1 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,120,000 lbf/in2 (7.72 GPa) Crushing Strength: 6,600 lbf/in2 (45.5 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 4.0%, Tangential: 6.2%, Volumetric: 10.3%, T/R Ratio: 1.6
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a medium to light brown, sometimes with an orange or olive hue. Color tends to darken with age. Sapwood is a paler yellowish brown, though it isn’t always clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Overall, Sassafras bears a strong resemblance to ash (Fraxinus spp.) and chestnut (Castanea spp.).
Grain/Texture: Grain is straight, with a coarse uneven texture. Endgrain: Ring-porous; large earlywood pores 3-6 rows wide, small latewood pores solitary and radial multiples of 2-4; tyloses common; growth rings distinct; rays visible without lens; parenchyma around latewood pores vasicentric, aliform (winged) and confluent.
Rot Resistance: Rated as durable to very durable.
Workability: Easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Sassafras also has good dimensional stability once dry. Glues, stains, and finishes well.
Odor: Sassafras has a distinct, spicy scent while being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Sassafras has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions include nausea and respiratory effects. Oil extracted from the roots and wood of Sassafras has been shown to be toxic and carcinogenic.
Pricing/Availability: Sassafras trees are generally too small to be commercially viable on a large scale, but limited quantities of lumber and turning blanks are available for a modest price.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Utility lumber, fence posts, boatbuilding, and furniture.
Related Species: None available.
Comments: Not to be confused with Blackheart Sassafras, an unrelated species native to Australia. Sassafras oil can be extracted from root bark or fruit of the tree; these same roots were traditionally used in the making of root beer, and the familiar scent is prevalent in the leaves and wood.

 

 
Common Name(s): Sitka Spruce
Scientific Name: Picea sitchensis
Distribution: Northwestern North America
Tree Size: 160 ft (50 m) tall, 5 ft (1.5 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 28 lbs/ft3 (455 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .36, .46 Janka Hardness: 510 lbf (2,270 N) Modulus of Rupture: 10,150 lbf/in2 (70.0 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,600,000 lbf/in2 (11.03 GPa) Crushing Strength: 5,610 lbf/in2 (38.7 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 4.3%, Tangential: 7.5%, Volumetric: 11.5%, T/R Ratio: 1.7
Color/Appearance: Can range from a creamy white, sometimes with a subtle pinkish hue
Grain/Texture: Sitka Spruce has a fine, even texture, and a consistently straight grain. Endgrain: Medium sized resin canals (larger than other spruce), sparse to numerous and variable in distribution; solitary or in tangential groups of several; earlywood to latewood transition gradual, color contrast medium; tracheid diameter medium-large
Rot Resistance: Heartwood is rated as being slightly resistant to non-resistant to decay
Workability: Easy to work, as long as there are no knots present. Glues and finishes well, though it can give poor (blotchy and inconsistent) results when being stained due to its closed pore structure. A sanding sealer, gel stain, or toner is recommended when coloring Spruce.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Spruce in the Picea genus has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include skin irritation and/or respiratory disorders.
Pricing/Availability: Construction grade spruce is cheap and easy to find. However, old growth and/or quartersawn clear pieces—free from knots—can be more expensive. Quartersawn billets of instrument-grade Sitka Spruce can easily exceed the cost of most all domestic hardwoods in terms of per board-foot cost.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Lumber, boxes/crates, furniture, millwork, aircraft components, musical instrument soundboards, boatbuilding (masts and spars), wind turbine blades, and virtually any application where a wood material with a good strength-to-weight ratio is needed.
Related Species: •Black Spruce (Picea mariana) •Engelmann Spruce (Picea engelmannii) •Norway Spruce (Picea abies) •Red Spruce (Picea rubens) •White Spruce (Picea
Comments: Sitka Spruce has an outstanding stiffness-to-weight ratio, and is available in large, straight-grained pieces, lending this timber to a wide range of commercial uses.

 

 
Common Name(s): Sweetgum, Redgum, Sapgum
Scientific Name: Liquidambar styraciflua
Distribution: Southeastern United States
Tree Size: 100 ft (30 m) tall, 3 ft (1 m) trunk diameter Average Dried Weight: 34 lbs/ft3 (545 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .46, .55 Janka Hardness: 850 lbf (3,780 N) Modulus of Rupture: 12,500 lbf/in2 (86.2 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,640,000 lbf/in2 (11.31 GPa) Crushing Strength: 6,320 lbf/in2 (43.6 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 5.3%, Tangential: 10.2%, Volumetric: 15.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.9
Color/Appearance: Wide sapwood is whitish to light pink or tan color, and is sometimes referred to as “sapgum” or “sweetgum.” Heartwood is gray to reddish brown, and is commonly referred to as “redgum.” Heartwood with darker black streaks is called “figured redgum.” Quartersawn pieces have a ribbon-stripe appearance.
Grain/Texture: Grain is interlocked, with a very fine, uniform texture. Good natural luster, this wood has sometimes been called “satin walnut.” Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; small pores in no specific arrangement, very numerous; exclusively solitary and/or in radial multiples of 2-3; tyloses common; growth rings indistinct; rays not visible without lens; parenchyma not visible with hand lens.
Rot Resistance: Heartwood sections are rated as moderately durable to non-durable regarding decay resistance, while the sapwood is perishable. Also susceptible to insect attack
Workability: Generally easy to work, though planing can produce tearout due to interlocked grain. Sweetgum is known to warp and distort badly during initial drying. (After initial drying, distortion is significantly less, but the wood still experiences an appreciable amount of movement in service.) Turns, glues, stains, and finishes well. Responds moderately well to steam bending.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Sweetgum has been reported to cause skin irritation.
Pricing/Availability: Because the sapwood is so wide, only older mature trees will yield the darker Redgum heartwood lumber. Sapgum is widely available at low cost, while Redgum is more uncommon, and prices can be in the mid range for a domestic hardwood, with prices for figured and/or quartersawn pieces costing more.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Veneer, plywood, furniture (speaker/acoustic cabinets), interior trim, boxes/crates, and turned objects.
Related Species: None available.
Comments: Not to be confused with various Australian species in the Eucalyptus genus that are also referred to as “red gum.”

 

 
Common Name(s): Eastern White Pine
Scientific Name: Pinus strobus
Distribution: Eastern North America (also widely grown on plantations throughout its natural range)
Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-4 ft (.6-1.2 m) trunk diameter (historically older-growth trees were much larger) Average Dried Weight: 25 lbs/ft3 (400 kg/m3) Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .34, .40 Janka Hardness: 380 lbf (1,690 N) Modulus of Rupture: 8,600 lbf/in2 (59.3 MPa) Elastic Modulus: 1,240,000 lbf/in2 (8.55 GPa) Crushing Strength: 4,800 lbf/in2 (33.1 MPa) Shrinkage: Radial: 2.1%, Tangential: 6.1%, Volumetric: 8.2%, T/R Ratio: 2.9
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light brown, sometimes with a slightly reddish hue, sapwood is a pale yellow to nearly white. Color tends to darken with age.
Grain/Texture: Grain is straight with an even, medium texture. Endgrain: Large resin canals, numerous and evenly distributed, mostly solitary; earlywood to latewood transition gradual, color contrast fairly low; tracheid diameter medium to large.
Rot Resistance: The heartwood is rated as moderate to low in decay resistance.
Workability: Eastern White Pine is easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Glues and finishes well.
Odor: Eastern White Pine has a faint, resinous odor while being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity: Working with pine has been reported to cause allergic skin reactions and/or asthma-like symptoms in some people.
Pricing/Availability: Eastern White Pine is widely harvested for construction lumber. Prices should be moderate for a domestic softwood.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Common Uses: Crates, boxes, interior millwork, construction lumber, carving, and boatbuilding..
Related Species: •Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra) •Caribbean Pine (Pinus caribaea) •Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana) •Jeffrey Pine (Pinus jeffreyi) •Khasi Pine (Pinus kesiya) •Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis) •Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) •Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta) •Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) •Maritime Pine (Pinus pinaster) •Ocote Pine (Pinus oocarpa) •Patula Pine (Pinus patula) •Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis) •Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) •Pond Pine (Pinus serotina) •Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) •Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata) •Red Pine (Pinus resinosa) •Sand Pine (Pinus clausa) •Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) •Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata) •Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii) •Spruce Pine (Pinus glabra) •Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana) •Sumatran Pine (Pinus merkusii) •Table Mountain Pine (Pinus pungens) •Western White Pine (Pinus monticola) •Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana)
Comments: Eastern White Pine is one of the most common and widely used timbers for construction lumber in the northeast United States. It’s one of the three primary commercial species of White Pine, with the other two—Sugar Pine and Western White Pine—being found on the west coast. The long, straight trunks of Eastern White Pine were once prized for use as ship masts. The king of England’s aggravating habit of marking out and reserving all the biggest and best of these trees for use in his navy lead to the Pine Tree Riot of 1772, and played a role in the events leading up to the Revolutionary War.