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Wood Species Guide

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Wood species guide Hardwoods–and some softwods–continue to be one of the prime components in furniture, cabinet, and woodwork manufacturing. What follows are general uses and working and drying characteristic of the most frequently used species, including several tropical hardwoods. HARDWOODS Ash (Fraxinus) Range –Of the 65 species of trees and shrubs called ash, six-white, pumpkin, blue, black, green, and Oregon ash–are commercially important for lumber and other wood products. White ash grows throughout almost the entire wooded area of the U. S. east of the Great Plains, except the Gulf and South Atlantic coasts, and in southern Ontario and Quebec. Green ash has practically the same geographic distribution except that it also grows along the coast, follows the tributaries of the Mississippi River westward across the prairies, and extends farther northward in Canada. Black ash grows along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River from New England westward to Minnesota and northeastern Iowa. is in furniture, interior parts of upholstered furniture, kitchen cabinets, and architectural trim and cabinetry. Ash is straight Uses –The principal use of ash R. Sidney Boone is a forest products technologist, Donna Christensen a botanist, and Debra Squire a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, WI. grained, stiff, strong, and hard. White ash is superior to other ash species in these qualities. Ash also has good bending properties, high shock resistance, and it wears smooth in use. Characteristics –White ash shrinks moderately but can be kiln dried rapidly and satisfactorily. Ash commonly is dried from the green condition in the kiln and requires 10-15 days for 1-inch lumber. It machines well, is better than average in nail- and screw-holding strength, and is intermediate for gluing, Other ash species have lower strength properties than white ash but still compare favorably with other native hardwoods. These species also split easier shrink more, are average in workability, and perform somewhat less favorable than white ash when exposed to extreme cycles of moisture content. Aspen (Populus) Range –Aspen grows throughout most of the northeastern and western U.S. Commercial stands are located principally in the Lake States and the Northeast; smaller amounts are found in the central Rocky Mountain region. Uses –Once considered a weed tree, aspen is now used for a wide variety of exposed furniture parts and interior parts of upholstered furniture. Characteristics –A lightweight hardwood, aspen can be seasoned satisfactorily by air drying or kiln drying. The occurrence of "wet pockets" or "wetwood" in some lumber may require special attention during drying. The wood has low nail-withdrawal resistance but has little tendency to split under the action of nails or screws. It's easily worked and fairly easy to finish to a smooth surface. Aspen glues easily with a variety of glues and under a wide range of gluing conditions. It ranks among the best hardwoods in painting properties. Beech (Fagus grandifolia) Range –The natural range of beech in the U. S. extends from Maine to northern Florida and westward from the Atlantic coast into Wisconsin, Missouri, and Texas. Uses –Beech is used in the manufacture of furniture, especially chairs; veneer, kitchen cabinets; and architectural woodwork. Its ability to maintain curvature after bending has led to increasing use for curved chair parts. Characteristics –The wood is hard, strong, and machines well. Because its physical and mechanical properties are so balanced, it rates highly for nearly all wood-machining processes. It also has no characteristic taste or odor, making it suitable for woodenware, food containers, and novelties. It shrinks substantially during seasoning and requires maximum care to avoid checks, warping, and discoloration. It's typically kiln dried from the green condition to minimize these problems. This requires 12- 15 days for 1-inch lumber. Birch (Betual) the Lake States, New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and along the Appalachian Mountains into southern Georgia. It reaches its best development near the Canadian border. Sweet birch grows in New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and Range –Yellow birch grows in FURNITURE DESIGN & MANUFACTURING/DECEMBER 1988 By R. Sidney Boone, Donna Christensen, and Debra Squire BASIC MATERIALSextends southward along the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia and Alabama. Paper birch has a transcontinental range extending throughout Canada to Alaska. In the U.S., it occurs eastward from the Lake States to New York and New England. Uses –Yellow birch is one of the principal furniture woods in the U.S. because of its good machining and finishing properties, hardness, pleasing figure. and attractive color. Sweet birch lumber and veneer also are used in furniture. Both species are also used in kitchen cabinets and architectural trim, paneling, and cabinetry. Much paper birch is used for specialty veneer products such as toothpicks and tongue depressors. Characteristics –The wood of yellow and sweet birch is relatively heavy, hard, and strong and has high shock resistance. Although the wood is difficult to work with handtools, it can be readily shaped by machine and ranks high in nail-withdrawal resistance. Sweet birch ranks slightly above yellow birch in most strength properties. The wood of paper birch is considerably lighter than the other two birches and ranks below them in hardness, strength, and stiffness. All birches shrink considerably during drying. Yellow birch must be seasoned carefully to prevent checking and warping. Eleven to 15 days are required to dry 1-inch lumber from the green condition to 6 percent moisture content. Because yellow and sweet birch are


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