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About our Wood

Currently we stock Walnut, Cherry, Cypress, Aromatic Cedar, Red Oak, White Oak, Maple, Ash, Alder, Hickory, Honey Locust, and Osage Orange (Hedge). and more!  We also stock Barnwood, mahogany, bloodwood, and padouk. 

Introduction

The hardwood forests of the eastern United States contain a wide range of temperate hardwoodspecies, which have been managed for commercial and non-commercial purposes since theturn of the 20th Century.

Hardwoods from America offer specifiers, manufacturers and end-users around the world a great varietyof colour, grain and character; from the warm, darker tones of walnut, red alder, elm, cherry and red oakto the lighter hues of white oak, maple and ash. Many of these species also have interesting colourcontrasts between the sapwood and heartwood, with species such as hickory, sapgum and tulipwooddisplaying exciting colour variation within their heartwood as well. Most of the species featured in thispublication can be used for a wide range of applications, from fine furniture and cabinets to internal joinerysuch as doors, stairs and panelling. The physical properties of some species, such as the oaks, hardmaple, ash, walnut and hickory make them ideal for flooring. An important factor for manufacturers is thatboth veneer and solid lumber are available in most species, ensuring a good match for any project.The availability and characteristics of American hardwood species vary according to growing regionsand the map below may be useful as a guide to provenance.

Note – Many American hardwood species such as ash, tulipwood, soft maple and the red and white oaks, will growacross the Northern, Central, Southern and Appalachian regions. But, because of the variation in climate, soil typeand elevation, the wood produced can vary significantly in colour, grain and other physical properties.

Other names: Red alder, Western red alder, Western alder

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American alder - Alnus rubra

Distribution & Availability

West coast USA, principally the Pacific Northwest, where it is the most common commercial hardwood. Available in a range of grades and specifications as both rough lumber and dimensionstock, although veneer production is more limited.

General Description

Red alder is almost white when freshly cut, but quickly changes on exposure to air to light brown with a yellow orreddish tinge. Heartwood is formed only in trees of advanced age and there is no visible definition between sapand heartwood. The wood is fairly straight grained with auniform texture.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

Red alder is a relatively soft hardwood of medium densitythat has low bending strength, shock resistance andstiffness.

WorkingProperties

Red alder machines well andis excellent for turning andpolishing. It nails, screws and glues well, and can besanded, painted, or stainedto a very good finish. It dries easily with little degrade andhas good dimensional stability after drying.

Durability

The wood is non-resistant to heartwood decay, but is permeable to preservative treatment.

Main Uses

Furniture, kitchen cabinets, doors,interior mouldings, turning, carving and kitchen utensils. Widely used by furniture industries around the world, its color makes it an ideal substitute for cherry.

Other names: Northern ash, Southern ash

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American ash - Fraxinus spp

Distribution & Availability

Distributed throughout Eastern USA. Good availability as lumber and veneer. The lumber is often classified according to growing regions and marketed as Northern ash and Southern ash. It is sometimes separated for colour and sold as white ash (sapwood) or brown ash (heartwood). American ash cancomprise a number of commercial sub species and is available in a wide range of grades and specifications as lumber and veneer. Note that white ash is the commercial name for Fraxinus americana.

General Description

American ash is similar in appearance to European ash. The sapwood is light coloured to nearly white and the heartwood varies from greyish brown to light brown, to pale yellow streaked with brown. The wood is generally straight grained with a coarse uniform texture. The degree and availability of light coloured sapwood, and other properties, will vary according to the growing regions. For example, Southern ash lumber will be faster grown and contain more sapwood and therefore, a higher percentage of white colour, but compared to Northern ash, it has a more open texture and grain.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

Ash has very good overall strength properties relative to its weight. It has excellent shock resistance and is good for steam bending. 

Working Properties

Ash machines well, is goodin nailing, screwing and gluing, and can be stained and polished to a very good finish. It dries fairly easily with minimal degrade, and good stability means there is little movement in performance.

Durability

Non-resistant to heartwood decay. The heartwood is moderately resistant to preservative treatment, and the sapwood is permeable.

Main Uses

Furniture, flooring, doors, architectural interiors, high class joinery and moulding, kitchen cabinets, panelling, tool handles, sports goods and turning. A versatile, good-looking wood, offering great value for a wide range of joinery and furniture applications.

Other Information

Light brown flecks or mineral streaks, sometimes referred to as glassworm, are common and are treated as a natural characteristic and not considered as defects.

Other names: American black cherry

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American cherry - Prunus serotina

Distribution & Availability

Found throughout Eastern USA, but main commercial areas are Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and New York State. Although cherry accounts for less than 2% of the growing hardwood resource, it is widely available in a full range of specifications and grades as both lumber and veneer.

General Description

The heartwood of American cherry varies from rich red to reddish brown and will darken on exposure to light. In contrast the sapwood is creamy white. Cherry can be supplied steamed, to darken sapwood or left unsteamed. The wood has a fine uniform straight grain, smooth texture, and may naturally contain brown pith flecks and small gum pockets.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

The wood is of medium density with good wood bending properties. It has low stiffness, medium strength and shock resistance.

Working Properties

Cherry is easy to machine. It nails and glues well and when sanded, stained and polished, it produces an excellent smooth finish. It dries fairly quickly with moderately large shrinkage, but is dimensionally stable after kilning.

Durability

Rated as resistant to heartwood decay and the heartwood is moderately resistant to preservative treatment.

Main Uses

Furniture and cabinet making, high class joinery, kitchen cabinets, mouldings, panelling, flooring, doors, boat interiors, musical instruments, turning and carving. The subtle range of red tones found in the heartwood have made this species very fashionable for many high end applications.

Other Information

On exposure to UV light, cherry products with a natural finish will generally darken in colour over time. This premium wood has naturally occurring pin knots and gum streaks which are not considered defects. Sapwood is admitted without limit. Because of this NHLA rule, cherry lumber is often sold with a heartwood specification such as 90/50, which means one face will be 90% heartwood and not less than 50% heartwood on the reverse face.

Other names: Sugar maple, black maple

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American hard maple - Acer saccharum, Acer nigrum

Distribution & Availability

Eastern USA, principally Northeastern and Lake States. A cold weather tree favouring a more northerly climate. Widely available as lumber and veneer. The higher quality grades of lumber are available selected for white colour (sapwood), although this can limit availability. Figured maple (birdseye, curly, fiddleback) is generally only available in commercial volumes as veneer.

General Description

The sapwood is creamy white with a slight reddish brown tinge and the heartwood varies from light to dark reddish brown. The amount of darker brown heartwood can vary significantly according to growing region. Both sapwood and heartwood can contain pith fleck. The wood has a close fine texture and is generally straight grained, but it can also occuras “curly”, “fiddleback”, and “birdseye” figure.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

The wood is hard and heavy with good strength properties, in particular its high resistance to abrasion and wear. It also has good steam bending properties.

Working Properties

Hard maple dries slowly witha large shrinkage, so it can be susceptible to movement in performance. Pre-boring is recommended when nailing and screwing. With care it machines well, turns well, glues satisfactorily, and can be stained and polished to an outstanding finish.

Durability

Rated as slightly or non-resistant to heartwood decay. The heartwood is resistant to preservative treatment, but the sapwood is permeable.

Main Uses

Flooring, furniture, panelling, kitchen cabinets, worktops and table tops, interior joinery: stairs, handrails, mouldings, and doors. The hard wearing properties and tight smoothgrain make this species ideal for high traffic flooring applications, such as theatres, concert halls, gymnasiums and basketball courts.

Other Information

The lighter coloured sapwood will tend to darken over time on exposure to UV light. Hard maple lumber is often sorted for the white (sapwood) colour, which the NHLA grading rules define as White maple or Sap maple.

Other names: Red maple, silver maple

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American soft maple - Acer rubrum, Acer saccharinum

Distribution & Availability

Wide distribution throughout Eastern USA, however, Pacific coast/big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) grows exclusively in the Pacific Northwest. Availability is improving as demand increases in export markets.

General Description

In most respects the wood of soft maple is very similar to that of hard maple, although due to its widespread growth it maybe more susceptible to regional colour variations. Generally the sapwood is greyish white, sometimes with darker coloured pith flecks, and the heartwood varies from light to dark reddish brown. The wood is usually straight grained.The lumber is generally sold unselected for colour.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

Soft maple is about 25% less hard than hard maple, has medium bending and crushing strength, and is low in stiffness and shock resistance. It has good steam bending properties.

Working Properties

Soft maple machines well and can be stained and polished to an excellent finish. It glues, screws, and nails satisfactorily. It dries slowly with minimal degrade and has good stability which means there is little movement in performance.

Durability

Non-resistant to decay. The heartwood is moderately resistant to preservative treatment but the sapwood is permeable.

Main Uses

Furniture, panelling, interior joinery, kitchen cabinets, mouldings, doors, musical instruments, and turning. Soft maple is often used as a substitute for hard maple or stained to resemble other species such as cherry. Its physical and working properties also make it a possible substitute for beech.

Other Information

Eastern soft maple: Typically red maple in the North and silver maple through the Midwest and Southern USA. It is essential to discuss this with your supplier, as they are very different inappearance. The red maple tends to resemble hard maple and is much more consistent in colour, while the silver maple has a wide range of colours and can have a slightly softer texture. Both species can produce a highly figured wormy variety which is sold WHND or Worm Holes No Defect. All soft maple varieties can be sorted for colour according to the NHLA specifications in The Illustrated Guide to American Hardwood Lumber Grades.

Pacific coast / big leaf maple: This Pacific Northwest species follows the grading guidelines for red alder. The main lumber grades are Select & Better, No.1 Common, and Frame. It is sold kiln-dried, surfaced, and graded from the better face with naturally occurring pin knots, which are not considereda defect. For best results, consult your supplier for the grade that will suit your needs.

Other names: Northern red oak, Southern red oak

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American red oak - Quercus spp.

Distribution & Availability

Widespread throughout Eastern USA. The oaks are by far the largest species group growing in the Eastern hardwood forests. Red oaks grow more abundantly than the white oaks. The red oak group comprises many species, of which about eight are commercial. Excellent availability as lumber orveneer in a wide range of grades and specifications. Red oak is often classified according to growing regions and marketed as Northern red oak and Southern red oak.

General Description The sapwood of red oak is white to light brown and the heartwood is often a pinkish reddish brown. The wood is similar in general appearance to white oak, but with a slightly less pronounced figure due to the smaller rays and a more porous end grain structure. The wood is mostly straight grained with a coarse texture.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

The wood is hard and heavy, with medium bending strength and stiffness and high crushing strength. It is very good for steam bending. More detailed strength information is available in AHECʼs publication Structural design in American hardwoods.

WorkingProperties

Red oak machines well; nailing and screwing is good although pre-boring is recommended, and it can be stained and polished to a very good finish. It performs best when dried slowly, reducing the opportunity for degrade such as splits and warp. It has a high shrinkage and can be susceptible to movement in performance under variable moisture conditions.

Durability

Rated slightly non-resistant to heartwood decay, moderately easy to treat with preservatives.

Main Uses

Construction, furniture, flooring, architectural interiors, internal joinery, stairs and mouldings, doors, kitchen cabinets, panelling and coffins. Not suitable for tight cooperage. Red oakc an vary in colour, texture, characteristics and properties according to the growing region. It is therefore recommended that users and specifiers work closely with their suppliers to make sure the wood they order is suited to their specific needs.

Other Information

This attractive looking oak, that is widely available, is increasingly being chosen by designers and architects for furniture, joinery and flooring in export markets around the world. While some red oak can have a distinct pink or red colour, other supplies can appear very similar to white oak. This is especially true once a finish is applied, which results in more ‘mixed oak’ products.The large volume of red oak production ensures that lumber availability is good and that a high proportion of long, wide boards with uniform grain can be obtained. For the same reason, red oak is increasingly available sorted to width and length for specific applications.

Other names: Northern white oak, Southern white oak

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American white oak - Quercus spp

Distribution & Availability

Widespread throughout Eastern USA. The white oak group comprises many species, of which about eight are commercial. Very widely available in lumber and veneer, in a full range of grades and specifications.

General Description

White oak is similar in colour and appearance to European oak. The sapwood of American white oak is light coloured and the heartwood is light to dark brown. White oak is mostly straight grained with a medium to coarse texture, with longer rays than red oak. White oak, therefore, has more figure.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

A hard and heavy wood with medium bending and crushing strength, low in stiffness, but very good in steam bending. Its good overall strength means it is increasingly being used by architects and designers in structural applications. More detailed information can be obtained in the AHEC publication Structural design in American hardwoods.

WorkingProperties

White oak machines well, nails and screws well, although preboring is advised. As it reacts with iron, galvanised or copper nails are recommended. Its adhesive properties are variable, but it stains and polishes to a good finish. The wood dries slowly and care is needed to avoid checking. Due to its high shrinkage, it can be susceptible to movement in performance under variable moisture conditions.

Durability

The heartwood is resistant to decay, extremely resistant to preservative treatment, and the sapwood is moderately resistant to treatment. Its natural durability means that white oak heartwood can be used externally without preservative treatment, but localised climate and exposure conditions should be taken into account to determine its potential performance.

Main Uses

Construction, furniture, flooring, architectural joinery, exterior joinery, mouldings, doors, kitchen cabinets, panelling, railway sleepers, timber bridges, barrel staves and coffins. White oak can vary in colour, texture, characteristics and properties accordingto the growing region. It is therefore recommended that users and specifiers work closely with their suppliers to make sure the wood they order is suited to their specific needs. Northern and Southern may be sold separately.

Other Information

White oak tends to be consistent in colour throughout its wide Northern to Southern range. Certain areas of the Appalachian Mountains produce a highly figured wormy variety and this is sold as Sound Wormy. Sapwood is admitted without limit in the NHLA rules, but usually sorted with a minimum of one heartwood face for export. Consult your supplier about their grading standards for sapwood. White oak is used around the world and complements European oak, although its colour consistency and the high volume of square edged lumber production make it first choice for many furniture, flooringand joinery manufacturers.

Other names: Yellow poplar, tulip poplar

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American tulipwood - Liriodendron tulipifera

Distribution & Availability

Widespread throughout Eastern USA. Widely available in a full range of standard lumber thicknesses. Excellent availability as lumber and veneer. Tulipwood is one of the largest trees in the U.S. forest and can produce very wide and long specifications, which are relatively knot free. It represents around 9% of the standing hardwood resource, which ensures continuity and volume supply to export markets.

General Description

The sapwood is creamy white and may be streaked, with the heartwood varying from pale yellowish brown to olive green. The green colour in the heartwood will tend to darken on exposure to UVlight and turn brown. The wood has a medium to fine texture and is straight grained. The size of the sapwood and some physical characteristics will vary according to growing regions. The wood has many desirable characteristics and is suitable for a wide variety of important uses. Tulipwood is not a poplar (Populus) and has many superior properties. However the tree resembles the shape of the European poplar, hence its name in the USA.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

A medium density wood with low bending, shock resistance, stiffness and compression values, with a medium steam bending classification. Tulipwood is very strong for its weight and is ideal for laminated beams and structures. More detailed strength information is available in the AHEC publication Structural design in American hardwoods.

Working Properties

A versatile timber that is easy to machine, plane, turn, glue and bore. It dries easily with minimal degrade. It has very good dimensional stability and has little tendency to split when nailed. It takes and holds paint, enamel and stain exceptionally well.

Durability

Non-resistant to decay. Heartwood is moderately resistant to preservative treatment, sapwood is permeable. The absorptive properties of tulipwood mean that it is potentially ideal for preservative treatment. Recent research in Europe confirms that tulipwood works effectively with traditional and new preservative treatment methods. For more information visit: www.americanhardwood.org.

Main Uses

Construction, furniture, interior joinery, kitchen cabinets, doors,panelling, mouldings, edged-glued panels, plywood (USA), turning and carving.

Other Information

This very available, cost effective and versatile American hardwood is exported around the world and many designers and architects are exploring its exciting natural colour variegation. Burls and swirls in the grain are a common occurrence and are not considered defects. A heavy purplish-blue mineral colour is limited in the upper lumber grades and unlimited in the Common lumber grades. Because the Common grades are generally stained or painted in finishing, a grey colour is allowed in the wood after surfacing. Tulipwood is becoming more readily available in fixed widths. Note that tulipwood is widely known as yellow or tulip poplar in the USA.

Other names: Black walnut, American walnut

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American black walnut - Juglans nigra

Distribution & Availability

Throughout Eastern USA, but principal commercial region is the central United States. One of the few American species planted as well as naturally regenerated. Reasonable availability in both lumber and veneer.

General Description

The sapwood of walnut is creamy white, while the heartwood is light brown to dark chocolate brown, occasionally with a purplish cast and darker streaks. Walnut can be supplied steamed, to darken sapwood or left unsteamed. The wood is generally straight grained, but sometimes with wavy or curly grain that produces an attractive and decorative figure. The dark heartwood will lighten in colour as it ages overtime with exposure to UV light.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

Walnut is a tough, hard timber of medium density, with moderate bending and crushing strengths and low stiffness. It has a good steam bending classification.

Working Properties

Walnut works easily with hand and machine tools, and nails, screws and glues well. It holds paints and stains very well and can be polished to an exceptional finish. It performs best when dried slowly, reducing the opportunity for degrade. Walnut has good dimensional stability.

Durability

Rated as very resistant to heartwood decay, it is one of the most durable woods even under conditions favourable to decay.

Main Uses

Furniture, cabinet making, architectural interiors, high class joinery, doors, flooring, gunstocks and panelling. A favoured wood for using in contrast with lighter coloured timbers.

Other Information

The NHLA grades have been altered for this species because of availability and nature of the timber growth (around 1% of the standing forest resource). The FAS lumber grade allows a 5 inch minimum width and 6 foot minimum length. When steamed, the sapwood, which is not considered a defect, will turn a darker colour to assist blending in the finishing process and is admitted without limit. Discuss with your supplier for more information.

Other names: White poplar, popple

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American aspen - Populus tremuloides

Distribution & Availability

Aspen is a true poplar and is harvested commercially in the North Eastern USA. Limited availability of volume lumber and veneer in a full range of sizes and grades.

General Description

Sapwood is white, blending into the light brown heartwood. The contrast between sap and heartwood is small. The wood has a fine uniform texture and is straight grained.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

The wood is light and soft, with low bending strength and stiffness, and medium shock resistance. It has a very low bending classification.

Working Properties

Aspen does not split when nailed, it machines easily with a slightly fuzzy surface, and turns, bores, and sands well. It takes paint and stain well to produce a good finish, although care is required where the surface is fuzzy. It has low to moderate shrinkage and good dimensional stability. As a true poplar aspen has similar characteristics and properties to American cottonwood and European poplar.

Durability

Non-resistant to heartwood decay, and extremely resistant to preservative treatment.

Main Uses

Furniture parts (drawer sides), doors, mouldings, picture frames, interior joinery, toys, kitchen utensils. Matchsticks (USA). Important specialised uses include sauna laths because of lack of taste and odour.

Other Information

Regionally referred to as popple and is not to be confused with American tulipwood (Liriodendron tulipifera), which is also known in the USA as yellow poplar. Light brown mineral streaks are naturally occurring and are not considered a defect.

American basswood - Tilia americana

Distribution & Availability

Eastern USA, principally the Northern and Lake States, where there is reasonable availability as lumber and veneer. Lumber is produced in a range of thicknesses, specifications and grades, although volumes may be limited.

General Description

The sapwood of basswood is usually quite large and creamy white in colour, merging into the heartwood, which is pale to reddish brown, sometimes with darker streaks. The wood has a fine uniform texture and indistinct grain that is straight.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

The wood is light and soft with generally low strength properties and a poor steam bending classification.

Working Properties

Basswood machines well and is easy to work with hand tools making it a premier carving wood. It nails, screws, and glues fairly well and can be sanded, stained, and polished to a good smooth finish. It dries fairly rapidly with little distortion or degrade. It has a fairly large shrinkage but good dimensional stability when dry.

Durability

Non-resistant to heartwood decay but the wood is permeable, so it can be suitable for preservative treatment.

Main Uses

Carving, turning, furniture, pattern-making, mouldings, interior joinery and musical instruments. An important specialised use is Venetian blinds or internal window shutters.

Other Information

Often produced in 9/4 (57.15mm) thickness for venetian blinds. Pin knots and light brown mineral streaks are a natural characteristic and not considered a defect.

American beech - Fagus grandifolia

Distribution & Availability

Grows throughout Eastern USA, although commercial concentration is in the Central and Middle Atlantic States. Production volumes of higher lumber grades and thicker stock may be limited.

General Description

The sapwood of American beech is white with a red tinge, while the heartwood is light to dark reddish brown. American beech tends to be slightly darker and less consistent than European beech. The wood is generally straight grained with a close uniform texture.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

American beech wood is classed as heavy, hard, and reasonably strong, high in resistance to shock and very suitable for steam bending.

Working Properties

American beech works readily with most hand and machine tools. It has good nailing and gluing properties and can be stained and polished to a good finish. The wood dries fairly rapidly but with a strong tendency to warp, split and surface check. It is subject to a large shrinkage and moderate movement in performance.

Durability

Rated as non-resistant to heartwood decay, but permeable for preservative treatment.

Main Uses

Furniture, doors, flooring, internal joinery, panelling, brush handles and turning. It is particularly suitable for food containers as there is no odour or taste.

Other Information

Occasional brown streaks of mineral can be found in the heartwood and are not considered a defect. Commercially, production of beech is not on the scale of European production but there are U.S. companies specialising in steaming and export.

American yellow birch - Betula alleghaniensis

Distribution & Availability

Eastern USA, principally Northern and Lake States. Reasonable availability, but more limited if selected for colour, i.e. red birch (heartwood) or white birch (sapwood). Increasingly found in export markets, although volumes produced may limit sizes and grades available.

General Description

Yellow birch has a white sapwood and light reddish brown heartwood. The wood is generally straight grained with a fine uniform texture.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

The wood of yellow birch is heavy, hard and strong. It has very good wood bending properties, with good crushing strength and shock resistance.

Working Properties

The wood works fairly easily, glues well with care, takes stain and polish extremely well, and nails and screws satisfactorily where pre-boring is advised. It dries rather slowly with little degrade, but it has moderately high shrinkage, so can be susceptible to movement in performance.

Durability

Non-resistant to heartwood decay. Moderately resistant to preservative treatment but sapwood is permeable.

Main Uses

Furniture, internal joinery and panelling, doors, flooring, kitchen cabinets, turning and toys.

Other Information

Often sorted for sap (sapwood) or red (heartwood). When sorted for colour, the FAS grade will allow a 5 inch minimum width. Refer to the NHLAʼs Rules for the Measurement & Inspection of Hardwood & Cypress for colour sorting specifications. Paper birch is a much softer textured birch species, which is lighter in colour, with scattered brown flecks and should not be confused with yellow birch.

Other names: Eastern cottonwood, Eastern poplar, Carolina poplar

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American cottonwood - Populus deltoides

Distribution & Availability

Cottonwood is a true poplar and grows commercially in the Central and Southern States, where it is widely available in lumber and veneer. This species may be limited in some export markets where demand is low.

General Description

The sapwood is white and may contain brown streaks while the heartwood may be pale to light brown. It is a diffuse porous timber with a coarse texture. The wood is generally straight grained and contains relatively few defects. As a true poplar cottonwood has similar characteristics and properties to American aspen and European poplar.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

Cottonwood is relatively light in weight. The wood is soft, and weak in bending and compression, and low in shock resistance. It has no odour or taste when dry.

Working Properties

General machinability is fair, although tension wood is frequently present and can cause a fuzzy surface when cut, if machine blades are not very sharp or set at correct angles, which in turn will require additional care when finishing. The wood glues well and has good resistance to splitting when nailing and screwing. It dries easily but may still have a tendency to warp, with small movement in performance.DurabilityNon-resistant to decay.

Main Uses

Furniture, furniture parts, interior joinery and mouldings, toys and kitchen utensils. A specialised use in America is Venetian blinds and shutters. Some export markets in Asia and Europe, especially Italy, use this cost effective, light coloured species for dark staining in reproduction furniture.

Other Information

Occasionally referred to as white poplar and is not to be confused with American tulipwood which is known as yellow poplar in the USA. Sometimes sawn into 9/4 (57.15mm) thickness for Venetian blinds.

Other names: Slippery elm, brown elm, grey elm

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American red elm - Ulmus rubra

Distribution & Availability

The Eastern to Midwest USA. Limited availability in both lumber and veneer, due to the impact of Dutch elm disease1. Elm is now regenerating better in some regions and is still exported, but in relatively small volumes, therefore some grade qualities and specifications may be limited.

General Description

Red elm has a greyish white to light brown narrow sapwood, with heartwood that is reddish brown to dark brown in colour. The grain can be straight, but is often interlocked. The wood has a coarse texture.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

Elm is moderately heavy, hard and stiff with excellent bending and shock resistance. It is difficult to split because of its interlocked grain.

Working Properties

The wood of red elm is fairly easy to work; it nails, screws and glues well and can be sanded, stained and polished to a good finish. It dries well with minimal degrade and little movement in performance.

Durability

Rated as non-resistant to heartwood decay, and classed as permeable to preservatives.Main Uses
Furniture, cabinet making, flooring, internal joinery and panelling.

Other Information

Bird pecks are a natural characteristic in all the elm species and are not considered a defect when grading lumber to the NHLA standard.

1. A fungal disease, which is spread by the elm bark beetle. Although believed to be originally native to Asia, the disease was accidentally introduced into America and Europe in the 1920s, where it has devastated native populations of elms which have not had the opportunity to evolve resistance to the disease

Other names: redgum, sapgum, sweetgum

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American gum - Liquidambar styraciflua

Distribution & Availability

The gums are an important part of the Eastern hardwood forests, and are found throughout the South Eastern USA. Excellent availability as lumber and veneer in a wide range of grades and specifications. When sorted for colour, redgum (majority heartwood) is more limited in its availability.

General Description

The sapwood of American gum tends to be wide and is white to light pink, while the heartwood is reddish brown, often with darker streaks. The wood has irregular grain, usually interlocked, which produces an attractive grain figure. It has a fine uniform texture.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

American gum is moderately hard, stiff and heavy and has a low steam bending classification.

Working Properties

The wood is easy to work, with both hand and machine tools. It nails, screws and glues well, takes stain easily and can be sanded and polished to an excellent finish. It dries rapidly with a strong tendency to warp and twist. It has a large shrinkage, and is liable to movement in performance.

Durability

Rated as non-resistant to heartwood decay. The heartwood is moderately resistant to preservative treatment, but the sapwood is permeable.

Main Uses

Cabinet making, furniture parts, doors, internal joinery, strips and mouldings. Used in some export markets with stained finishes as a walnut or mahogany substitute.

Other Information

Lumber is often sold as sapgum and no colour specification is required. According to the NHLA grading standards, when sold as redgum, each clear cutting is required to have one red (heartwood) face.

Other names: Common hackberry, sugarberry

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American hackberry - Celtis occidentalis

Distribution & Availability

Throughout Eastern USA, although not available in large commercial volumes. There is some export of lumber, mainly in thinner stock and availability of higher grades may be limited.

General Description

Hackberry is closely related to sugarberry (Celtis laevigata) and is a member of the elm family. There is little difference between sapwood and heartwood, which is yellowish grey to light brown with yellow streaks. The wood has irregular grain, occasionally straight and sometimes interlocked, with a fine uniform texture.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

Hackberry is moderately hard, heavy and has medium bending strength, high shock resistance but is low in stiffness. It has a good steam bending classification.

Working Properties

The wood planes and turns well and is intermediate in its ability to hold nails and screws, and stains and polishes satisfactorily. Hackberry dries readily with minimal degrade. It has a fairly high shrinkage and may be susceptible to movement in performance.

Durability

Non-resistant to heartwood decay. The heartwood is moderately resistant to preservative treatment, but the sapwood is permeable.Main UsesFurniture and kitchen cabinets, joinery, doors and mouldings.

Other Information

Sometimes referred to as sugarberry and used as an ash substitute. Can be susceptible to blue stain before and after kilning, so lumber purchased in USA will tend to be surfaced (planed).

American hickory & pecan - Carya spp.

Distribution & Availability

Eastern USA, principal commercial areas are the Central and Southern states. Readily available, but more limited if sold selected for colour as either red or white hickory or pecan. For export, lumber may be limited in the higher grades and available mainly in thinner stock.

General Description

The hickories are an important group within the eastern hardwood forests. Botanically, they are split into two groups; the true hickories, and the pecan hickories (fruit bearing). The wood is virtually the same for both and is usually sold together. The sapwood of hickory and pecan is white, tinged with brown while the heartwood is pale to reddish brown. Both are coarse textured and the grain is usually straight but can be wavy or irregular.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

The density and strength of the hickories will vary according to the rate of growth, with the true hickories generally showing higher values than the pecan hickories. The wood is well known for its very good strength and shock resistance and it also has excellent steam bending properties.

Working Properties

The hickories are considered difficult to machine and glue, and are very hard to work with hand tools, so care is needed. They hold nails and screws well, but there is a tendency to split so pre-boring is advised. The wood can be sanded and polished to a good finish. It can be difficult to dry and has a large shrinkage, which may affect stability under variable moisture conditions

Durability

Rated as non-resistant to heartwood decay. The wood is classed as resistant to preservative treatment.

Main Uses

Tool handles, furniture, cabinetry, flooring, wooden ladders, dowels and sporting goods. Hickory is increasingly being exported for flooring, for its attractive rustic look and hardwearing properties.

Other information

Typically referred to as hickory in the North and pecan in the South of the USA. Bird pecks are a common characteristic and are not considered as defects. Deep purple mineral streaks are also a natural characteristic and are not considered as defects. The FAS lumber grade permits a minimum width of 4 inches (101.6mm)

Other names: Buttonwood, American plane

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American sycamore - Platanus occidentalis

Distribution & Availability

Throughout the Eastern USA. Reasonable availability in a range of specifications and grades in lumber and veneer, although availability in export markets may vary and be quite limited where demand or interest is low.

General Description

The sapwood of sycamore is white to light yellow, while the heartwood is light to dark brown. The wood has a fine close texture with interlocked grain. It is not related in any way to European sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), but it has the same family classification, and similar characteristics to European plane (Platanus orientalis). Contrasts well with other species.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

The wood is classified as moderate in weight, hardness, stiffness and shock resistance. It turns well on the lathe and has good bending qualities.

Working Properties

The wood machines well, but high speed cutters are needed to prevent chipping. It is resistant to splitting, due to the interlocked grain. The wood glues well and stains and polishes, with care, to an excellent finish. It dries fairly rapidly, with a tendency to warp. It has moderate shrinkage and little movement in performance.

Durability

Rated as non-resistant to heartwood decay, but is permeable to preservative treatment.Main UsesFurniture, furniture parts (drawer sides), internal joinery, panelling and mouldings, kitchen ware, butchers blocks and veneered panels.

Other Information

In some export regions, such as Europe, sycamore refers to a specific “maple” looking wood species, which can cause confusion. American sycamore produces the same wood as European plane with its distinct grain pattern, but is probably more commercially available and, therefore, has the potential to be more widely used.

Other names: Black willow, swamp willow

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American willow - Salix spp.

Distribution & Availability

Eastern USA. Principal commercial areas are the Middle and Southern States, along the Mississippi river. Reasonable availability on a regional basis as lumber and veneer, although availability in exports markets may vary and may be restricted to certain grades and thinner stock.

General Description

The sapwood of willow varies according to growing conditions and is light creamy brown in colour. In contrast, the heartwood is pale reddish brown to greyish brown. The wood has a fine even texture and, although generally straight grained, it can sometimes be interlocked, or display figure.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

The wood is weak in bending, compression, shock resistance and stiffness, with a poor steam bending classification.

Working Properties

Willow works fairly easily with hand and machine tools, but care is needed to avoid a fuzzy surface when interlocked grain is present. The wood nails and screws well, glues excellently, and can be sanded and polished to a very good finish. It dries fairly rapidly with minimal degrade, although may be susceptible to moisture pockets. Dimensional stability is good when dry.

Durability

Non-resistant to hardwood decay. The heartwood is resistant to preservative treatment and the sapwood is permeable.

Main Uses

Furniture, joinery, interior mouldings, panelling, doors, sports equipment, kitchen utensils and toys. In some European markets, such as Italy, willow is increasingly used with a stain to reproduce the lighter tones of European walnut.

Other Information

Burls and swirls in the grain are a natural characteristic and are not considered defects.

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