Working with Ash
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(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor A:
I love working with ash! Milling, finishing, carving, turning, but I have found that the finished ply is more expensive than oak. Beware of beetles, but not the rock group. I think Dr. Gene gave some insight into ash once somewhere.
From contributor B:
Ash is very open grained, so you can use grain filler or paste. It is a very beautiful wood that will never be mistaken for Formica or Wilson Art.
From contributor C:
The only wood I've ever worked with that could resemble ash is Catalpa. Both are beautiful woods in my opinion. I treat ash as I would red oak.
From contributor D:
It's hard to tell from the picture, but at first glance I wondered if the main piece was elm.
From contributor E:
At first glance, I thought the panel might be elm because of the little zig-zag lines between the early wood rings, but when you look at the marks on the right style, those little worm looking trails are caused by a beetle in the bark which allows the new cells in the cambium to fill the void where they excavated. This is a trait common to ash. They were present while the tree was still growing without hurting the tree.
From contributor F:
Ash can be a bit chippy when planing, so watch your grain directions. It can also be splotchy when staining, but I haven't run into this very often. I've always considered it a relatively similar in grain appearance to red oak; jut more finely detailed and elegant looking. Over the years I've built dozens of kitchens out of many different species for customers. I built my own out of ash.
From contributor G:
I think you have a mix of Elm and Ash, but itís hard to tell from the pictures. Why are you looking for a substitute? Ash is a very easy wood to work. I personally hate to mix species of wood when they are on exposed surfaces together. I have never seen Birch look like anything but Birch no matter how well it is finished.
From contributor H:
Ash is generally much cheaper than oak or cherry, so I don't know why you would want to substitute. One other thing - the solids come in two colors, frequently mixed in one board. There is the creamy yellow and a deeper brown. If you do a natural finish, the brown will fade out after 4-5 years and you get the nice patina seen in your photos. When you buy ash ply, there is almost never any brown, so mixing solids and plys can be a problem unless you stain. Ash stains well, but then it just looks like oak. In my opinion, there is nothing like a nice patinized ash (10 years old or more) and 100 year old natural ash is a beautiful thing.
From contributor I:
As far as the substitute question, I'm not looking for a substitute, just information about the wood itself. Some woods can be subbed for others and I was curious if Ash had a suitable substitute.
From contributor J:
It sure looks like elm. If you can get a 10x magnifier, look at a clean cut of the end grain. You will probably see ulmiform pores (wavy bands of latewood pores) that make the feathery grain appearance. We find it a bit tougher to work and finish than ash. Sometimes raised fibers are a bit of a problem when finishing, and they must be scraped or sanded smooth.
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