Characteristics of Beech Wood

Woodworkers admire Beech for its machineability, stability, and good looks. January 14, 2009

Question
I have to build 30 tabletops out of 5/4 beech, which I never worked with. I'm wondering the general properties of this wood, mostly how stable it is as far as cupping? The lumber looks great as its straight and flat. Also, should I use a WB finish (Agualente MLC) in a restaurant application?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor P:
The Euro steamed beech has been wonderful for me. I've been using it for cabinets, furniture, and on the grill. (It makes a dandy smoke when soaked in water for a day or two).

I'd not be hesitant to make tabletops with it. I've made a ton of doors using it for the frames and panels and I think it's one of the easiest woods to make doors with at the price. It's pretty hard, glues well, and takes an edge well. It looks great distressed and the color is very consistent. It takes a little more effort to sand because of the hardness, but doesn't fuzz around knots or swirls like a softer wood.

I have only used a few boards wider than 6", but I had no cupping or warping problems. Of course you still need to take care to not use any pieces that are likely to cause problems, but in my experience, I've had a lot less waste with the beech than with other woods like alder and oak.



From contributor J:
I used it for numerous kitchen cabinet jobs, built-ins, glue ups for large drawer fronts etc. I really like working with it. It's a dense wood so glue penetration is basically the same as working with white maple. My only suggestion is to not over tighten the clamps on a glue up. I had several face frames pop loose on the finished ends (as I don't face nail and clamp only on finished ends on cabinets) on one cabinet job. This happened during the winter so cold was a factor. I have never had the problem repeat itself. I tend to over tighten my clamps, so for beech I use more clamps and less pressure.


From contributor D:

Great wood to work with and for the price it is awesome. I dont expect prices to stay down once everyone discovers it. Contributir P - can you use it for smoking? I thought they chemical steam it to stabilize it? Is it a good outside wood?