Red oak: Main Uses are for Furniture, flooring, architectural millwork and moldings’, doors, kitchen cabinets, paneling and caskets. The Latin name for oak, Quercus, means "a fine tree." The oaks have been key in America's industrial transformation: railroad ties, wheels, plows, looms, barrels and, of course, furniture and floors. The oak is the state tree of New Jersey. It Grows throughout Eastern USA. The oaks are by far the most abundant 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. Average tree height is 60 to 80 feet. The wood is hard and heavy, with medium bending strength and stiffness and high crushing strength. It is very good for steam bending. Great wear-resistance and is the most widely used species.
White oak: Main Uses are for Furniture, flooring, architectural millwork, moldings’, doors, kitchen cabinets, paneling, barrel staves (tight cooperage) and caskets. White oak is impervious to liquids, and has been used extensively for ship timbers, barrels and casks. White oak is the state tree of Connecticut, Illinois and Maryland. White oak machines well nails and screws well although pre-boring is advised. Since it reacts with iron, galvanized nails are recommended. Its adhesive properties are variable, but it stains to a good finish. Can be stained with a wide range of finish tones. The wood dries slowly. A hard and heavy wood with medium bending and crushing strength, low in stiffness, but very well in steam bending. Great wear-resistance.
Alder: Grows Principally the Pacific Northwest, where it is the most abundant commercial hardwood. Average height is 90 feet and the tree matures in 25 to 40 years, but will begin to deteriorate by 60 to 80 years of age. Alder grows well on burned over lands and thrives in areas that have been ravaged by fire, earthquakes or logging. Main Uses are for Furniture, kitchen cabinets, doors, shutters, moldings’, panel stock, turnings, carvings and kitchen utensils. Alder is used in the smoking of meats and fish. Red alder, a relative of birch, is almost white when freshly cut but quickly changes on exposure to air, becoming light brown with a yellow or reddish tinge. Heartwood is formed only in trees of advanced age and there is no visible boundary between sap and heartwood. The wood is fairly straight-grained with a uniform texture. Red alder machines well and is excellent for turning. It nails, screws and glues well, and can be sanded, painted, or stained to a good finish. When stained, it blends with walnut, mahogany or cherry. It dries easily with little degrade and has good dimensional stability after drying. Red alder is a relatively soft hardwood of medium density that has low bending strength, shock resistance and stiffness.
Ash: Norse mythology refers to ash as "the mighty tree that supports the heavens" and "below earth its roots went down to hell." Ash belongs to the olive family, although its only fruit is a dart-like winged seed. Ash is a popular species for food containers because the wood has no taste. Admiral Richard Byrd wore snowshoes made from ash during his polar expeditions and early windmills were made from this species. It Grows Throughout the Eastern USA. White ash trees range in height from 80 to 120 feet with diameter from 2 to 5 feet. Main Uses are for Furniture, flooring, doors, architectural millwork and moldings, kitchen cabinets, paneling, tool handles, baseball bats, hockey sticks, billiard cues, skis, oars and turnings. At one time ash was the preferred wood for making tennis racquets. Ash machines well, is good in nailing, screwing and gluing, and can be stained to a very good finish. It dries fairly easily with minimal degrade, and there is little movement in performance. Ash has very good overall strength properties relative to its weight. It has excellent shock resistance and is good for steam bending.
Aspen: It Grows Commercially in the Northeast. Average tree height is 40 to 60 feet. The aspen has a short life span: just before reaching full growth, it has a tendency to suffer from decay. Aspens are known for seeding and thriving in places where fires have been. Main Uses are for Furniture parts (drawer sides), doors, moldings’, picture frames, millwork, toys, kitchen utensils, food containers, baskets and matchsticks. Important specialized uses include sauna laths because of its low conductivity of heat, and chopsticks. Aspen dose 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. Aspen is a true poplar, and therefore has similar characteristics and properties to cottonwood. The wood is light and soft, with low bending strength and stiffness, and medium shock resistance. It has a very low bending classification. It is Limited in Availability and rarely available in thick stock.
Basswood: The name comes from its inner bark, or bast, used by Native Americans to make rope. It Grows Principally the Northern and Lake states. Average tree height is 65 feet. Its Main Uses are for Carvings, turnings, furniture, pattern making, moldings’, millwork and musical instruments. An important specialized use is Venetian blinds and shutters. Native Americans also used basswood’s inner bark fibers to make thread and fabric. 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 and stained to a good smooth finish. It dries fairly rapidly with little distortion or degrading. It has fairly high shrinkage but good dimensional stability when dry. The wood is light and soft with generally low strength properties and a poor steam-bending classification
Beech: Known as "Mother of the Forest" for its nutrient-rich humus. Beech has a long, illustrious past. The Aryan Tribes of Asia, the earliest known people to use a written language, carved their messages into the soft, smooth pliable bark of the beech tree trunk. The writings, cut out of the bark and used intact, were called "boc," which eventually became "book. It Grows Throughout the Eastern USA, commercial concentration is in the Central and Middle Atlantic states. Average tree height is 120 feet. It’s Main Uses are for Furniture, doors, flooring, millwork, paneling, brush handles, wooden ware, bending stock, toys and turnings. It is particularly suitable for food and liquid containers since there is no odor or taste. Beech was used to make snuffboxes as well as mortars and pestles. Beech works readily with most hand and machine tools. It has good nailing and gluing properties and can be stained 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 high shrinkage and moderate movement in performance. Beech is classed as heavy, hard, strong, high in resistance to shock and highly suitable for steam bending. Good resistance to abrasive wear
Birch: From sap to bark, birch trees are used to make everything from beer to toothpicks. Native Americans stretched birch bark on their canoe frames and used the wood for their arrows. The birch is New Hampshire's state tree. It is also popular as an ornamental tree and has gained the nickname "Mother Tree" because birches were planted at the White House to honor the mothers of USA presidents. The oil extracted from the bark contains a chemical used to treat rheumatism and inflammations. Eastern USA, principally Northern and Lake states. The average tree is 60 to 70 feet in height. Birch prefers valleys and stream banks although it adapts itself to higher grounds. It’s Main Uses are for Furniture, millwork and paneling, doors, flooring, kitchen cabinets, turnings and toys. Native Americans often rolled and burned birch bark to keep mosquitoes away. Yellow birch has a white sapwood and light reddish brown heartwood. The wood is generally straight-grained with a fine uniform texture. Generally characterized by a plain and often curly or wavy pattern. The wood works fairly easily, glues well with care, takes stain 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 is susceptible to movement in performance. The wood of yellow birch is heavy, hard and strong. It has very good bending properties, with good crushing strength and shock resistance
Cherry: Like all fruit trees, cherry belongs to the rose family. American Colonists used the cherry tree for its fruit, medicinal properties and home furnishings. They mixed cherry juice with rum to create Cherry Bounce, a bitter but highly favored cordial. The bark was used in the production of drugs to treat bronchitis, and cherry stalks were used to make tonics. It Grows Throughout Midwestern and Eastern USA. Main commercial areas: Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and New York. Average tree height is 60 to 80 feet. Cherry trees can live to the extreme ages of 150 to 200 years. It’s Main Uses are for Fine furniture and cabinet making, moldings’ and millwork, kitchen cabinets, paneling, flooring, doors, boat interiors, musical instruments, turnings and carvings. Early printmakers used cherry for their engraving blocks. The heartwood of cherry varies from rich red to reddish brown and will darken with age and on exposure to light. In contrast, the sapwood is creamy white. The wood has a fine uniform, straight grain, satiny, smooth texture, and may naturally contain brown pith flecks and small gum pockets. Cherry is easy to machine, nails and glues well and when sanded and stained, it produces an excellent smooth finish. It dries fairly quickly with moderately high shrinkage, but is dimensionally stable after kiln drying. The wood is of medium density with good bending properties, it has low stiffness and medium strength and shock resistance.
Cottonwood: Cottonwood is the state tree of Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming. It grows in the Eastern U.S., main commercial areas: Middle and Southern states. Average tree height is 80 to 100 feet. Cottonwoods have rapid growth throughout their first 40 years, then grow slowly for the many years after. Some have been known to reach 100 feet in height in fifteen years. It’s Main Uses are for Furniture, furniture parts, millwork and moldings’, toys and kitchen utensils. Specialized uses are Venetian blinds, shutters, and caskets. Together, aspen, basswood, cottonwood, elm, gum, hackberry, sassafras, sycamore and willow represent 12.5 percent of commercially available USA hardwoods. Cottonwoods were a welcome sight for pioneers moving westward. The cottonwoods marked the presence of streams in the otherwise treeless Great Plains. General machinability is fair, although tension wood is frequently present and can cause a fuzzy surface when cut, 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 slight movement in performance. Cottonwood is relatively light in weight. The wood is soft, weak in bending and compression, and low in shock resistance. It has no odor or taste when dry.
Cypress: Cypress trees are conifers, but unlike most American softwoods, these are deciduous trees that shed foliage in the fall like hardwoods. Although cypress is a softwood, it grows alongside hardwoods and traditionally has been grouped and manufactured with hardwoods. The oils in cypress' heartwood make it one of the most durable woods when exposed to moisture conditions causing decay. It grows Most cypress trees are natives of the South. They are found primarily in wet, swampy areas along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from Delaware to Florida, and west along the Gulf of Mexico to the border of Texas and Mexico. Cypress also thrives along the Mississippi Valley from the Louisiana delta to southern Indiana. Cypress roots love water. Some trees growing on wet sites develop what are called cypress "knees" or pneumatophores. The knee-like upright growths come from the roots, helping to support the tree and also to aerate the waterlogged root system. The wood from the knees is soft and light and can be used to make vases and novelty items. It’s Main Uses are for Exterior: siding, shutters, shingles, trim, fence posts. Interior: paneling, molding, millwork, cabinetry, flooring, furniture. During the Middle Ages, European craftsmen carved massive cathedral doors from cypress. The sapwood is pale yellow white with the heartwood varying in color from light to dark or reddish brown. Cypress machines well, planes easily and resists warping. Pre-boring at board edges will help prevent splitting. It nails and screws very well. It glues well, sands easily and readily accepts finishes
Elm: Elm is the state tree of Massachusetts and North Dakota. It grows in the Eastern to Midwest USA. Average tree height is 40 to 60 feet. Its Main Uses are for Furniture, cabinet making, flooring, millwork, paneling and caskets. The red elm has a glue-like substance in its inner bark that formerly was steeped in water as a remedy for throat ailments; powdered for use in poultices, and chewed as a thirst-quencher. Red elm has a greyish white to light brown narrow sapwood, with heartwood that is reddish brown to dark brown in color. The grain can be straight, but is often interlocked. The wood has a coarse texture. The wood of red elm is fairly easy to work, it nails, screws and glues well, and can be sanded and stained to a good finish. It dries well with minimum degrade and little movement in performance. Elm is moderately heavy, hard and stiff with excellent bending and shock resistance. It is difficult to split because of its interlocked grain.
Gum: The origins of its Latin name, liquid amber styraciflua, are traced to the writings of Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez who, in 1519, described the gums as “large trees that exude a gum-like liquid amber in color. The gums are an important part of the Eastern hardwood forests, and are found throughout the Southeastern U.S. Average tree height is 80 to 120 feet: they prefer rich, moist soil and grow vigorously on occasionally flooded land. It’s Main Uses are for Cabinet making, furniture parts, doors, millwork, strips and moldings’, turnings and rail ties. Good substitute for walnut when stained. Storax, the clear, balsamic oleoresin that the tree secretees, often is used for medicinal and pharmaceutical preparations and it is used for adhesives, incense, perfuming, powders and soaps. 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 to an excellent finish. It dries rapidly with a strong tendency to warp and twist. It has a high shrinkage, and is susceptible to movement in performance. American gum is moderately hard, stiff and heavy and has a low steam-bending classification.
Hackberry: It Grows in the Eastern USA. Average tree height is 130 feet. Its Main Uses are Furniture and kitchen cabinets, millwork, doors and moldings. Historically, most Southern church pews were made of hackberry. It often is used for farm implements as well as crates and boxes. The wood planes and turns well and is intermediate in its ability to hold nails and screws, and stains satisfactorily. Hackberry dries readily with minimal degrade. It has a fairly high shrinkage and is most suitable in cut stock (small/short pieces). 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.
Hard Maple: The hard maple is the state tree of Wisconsin, Vermont, New York and West Virginia. In the North, during the cold nights and warm days of late winter, the sugar maple is tapped for its sucrose-containing sap, the source of maple syrup. It may take up to 30 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Early American settlers used maple ashes to make soap and Native Americans crafted their spears from hard maple. Until the turn of the century, the heels of women's shoes were made from maple. Maple has been a favorite of American furniture makers since early Colonial days. Hard maple is the standard wood for cutting boards because it imparts no taste to food and holds up well. It grows in the Eastern USA, principally Mid-Atlantic and Lake states. A cold weather tree favoring a more northerly climate, its average height is 130 feet. Its Main Uses are for Flooring, furniture, paneling, ballroom and gymnasium floors, kitchen cabinets, work tops, table tops, butchers blocks, toys, kitchenware and millwork: stairs, handrails, moldings, and doors. A single sugar maple tree produces up to 12 gallons of sap a year. Hard maple dries slowly with high 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 to an outstanding finish. Polishes well and is suitable for enamel finishes and brown tones. 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. The higher quality grades of lumber are available selected for white color (sapwood) although this can limit availability. Figured maple (birds-eye, curly, fiddleback) is generally only available in commercial volumes as veneer.
Hickory and Pecan: Its name is an English contraction of the Native American "powcohicora." In Eastern North America, it survived the catastrophic changes of the Glacial Epoch, some 50 million years ago. Thus, it is the first strictly American hardwood species. Westward trekking pioneers made hickory a prerequisite for their wagon wheels. Later, the Wright Brothers whittled hickory for their "flying contraption." Hickory sawdust and chips are used to flavor meat by smoking. Commercially, the pecan is the most important native North American nut tree and it is the state tree of Texas. Pecan was a Native American name given to any nut hard enough to require cracking with a stone. Native Americans, particularly in the Northeast, used hickory for their bows. It Grows in the Eastern USA, principal commercial areas: Central and Southern states. Tree height ranges from 60 to 120 feet. Hickories grow slowly and it is not unusual for a tree to take 200 years to mature. Its Main Uses are Tool handles, furniture, cabinetry, flooring, paneling, wooden ladders, dowels and sporting goods. Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the USA, was nicknamed “Old Hickory” because of his toughness during disputes. The heaviest of American hardwoods, the hickories can be 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 to a good finish. The grain pattern welcomes a full range of medium-to-dark finishes and bleaching treatments. It can be difficult to dry and has high shrinkage. 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. Extremely tough and resilient, even textured, quite hard and only moderately heavy.
Pacific Coast Maple: It Grows Principally in the Pacific Northwest, where it is an abundant commercial hardwood. Average height is 60 ft. It grows scattered or in small groves. Its Main Uses are for Furniture, kitchen cabinets, doors, shutters, moldings, panel stock, turnings, carvings and kitchen utensils. Very fast growing; it is the second most abundant species of hardwood PC Maple is easy on the pocket book; it’s about half the cost of hard maple. PC maple machines well and is excellent for turning. It nails, screws and glues well and can be sanded, stained or painted to a good finish. PC maple has medium density, but is slightly harder than eastern soft maple. It has medium bending strength, shock resistance and stiffness.
Poplar: Yellow poplar trees grow taller than any other USA. hardwood species and they are members of the magnolia family. The bark the leaves, flowers, fruit and roots contain pharmaceuticals. Poplar is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Widespread throughout Eastern USA. Tree heights can reach 150 feet. Its Main Uses are Light construction, furniture, kitchen cabinets, doors, musical instruments, siding, paneling, moldings and millwork, edge-glued panels, turnings and carvings. The poplar tree is rarely attacked by parasites. A versatile wood that is easy to machine, plane, turn, glue and bore. It dries easily with minimal movement in performance and has little tendency to split when nailed. It takes and holds paint, enamel and stain exceptionally well. A medium density wood with low bending, shock resistance, stiffness and compression values, with a medium steam-bending classification. It has excellent strength and stability.
Sassafras: It Grows Sporadically distributed throughout the Eastern USA. Height varies with region: southern trees generally grow tallest with average heights of 80 feet. Its Main Uses Furniture, millwork and moldings, windows, doors and door frames and kitchen cabinets. Sassafras tea can be made from boiling the tree’s flowers and the root bark. Sassafras oil from the tree’s root can also be used to perfume soap and as medicine. Chewing on sassafras twigs stimulates saliva production: a useful fact for desperately thirsty hikers. Sir Walter Raleigh took sassafras back to England from Virginia. In what were called the Great Sassafras Hunts from 1602-1603, ships were sent from England to collect the roots. Sassafras roots then were converted into a tonic that smelled like root beer and supposedly kept its drinkers youthful and healthy. Sassafras was also used as dye to give fabric an orange tint. Sassafras heartwood is pale brown to orange brown, resembling ash or chestnut. The narrow sapwood is yellowish white. The wood has a coarse texture and is generally straight-grained. It is Well-known as an aromatic species. Sassafras is easily worked and takes a finish well. It glues well and holds screws better than it nails, where pre-boring may be necessary to avoid splitting. It requires care in drying as it has a tendency to check with small movement in performance. With a medium strength in all categories except stiffness that is low. Sassafras is suitable for steam bending.
Soft Maple: It Grows Throughout Eastern USA, and to a lesser extent on the West Coast (big leaf maple). Average tree height is 60 to 80 feet. Its Main Uses are for Furniture, paneling and millwork, kitchen cabinets, moldings, doors, musical instruments, and turnings. 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. Charcoal is often made from soft maple. Soft maple machines well and can be stained to an excellent finish. It glues, screws, and nails satisfactorily. Polishes well and are suitable for enamel finishes and brown tones. It dries slowly with minimal degrade and there is little movement in performance. Soft maple is about 25 percent 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
Sycamore: It Grows Throughout Eastern USA. Average tree height is 60 to 125 feet with peeling outer bark and a smooth, mottled cream, tan and green inner bark resembling camouflage. Its Main Uses are for Furniture, furniture parts (drawer sides), millwork, paneling and moldings, flooring, kitchenware, butcher blocks, toys and fruit crates. The sycamore has the largest leaf of any tree native to North America. 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, with care, to an excellent finish. It dries fairly rapidly, with a tendency to warp. It has moderate shrinkage and little movement in performance. The wood is classified as moderate in weight, hardness, stiffness and shock resistance. It turns well on the lathe and has good bending
Walnut: The roots of the walnut tree release a toxic material that may kill other plants growing above them. From the time of ancient Greeks until well into modern European history, walnuts symbolized fertility and were strewn at weddings. Just the opposite, in Romania, brides who wished to delay childbearing placed into the bodice of their wedding dresses one walnut for each year they hoped to wait. It Grows Throughout Eastern U.S., but principal commercial region is the Central states. Average tree height of 100 to 150 feet. Its Main Uses are for Furniture, cabinets, architectural millwork, doors, flooring, paneling, and gun stocks. Walnut is a favored wood for using in contrast with lighter-colored species. Walnut is one of the few American species planted as well as naturally regenerated. Walnut works easily with hand and machine tools, and nails, screws and glues well. It holds paint and stain very well for an exceptional finish and is readily polished. It dries slowly, and care is needed to avoid kiln degrade. Walnut has good dimensional stability. Walnut is a tough hardwood of medium density, with moderate bending and crushing strengths and low stiffness. It has a good steam-bending classification.
Willow: It Grows Principal commercial areas are the Middle and Southern states, along the Mississippi River. Average tree height is usually no taller than 30 to 40 feet. Its Main Uses are for Furniture, moldings and millwork, paneling, doors, sports equipment, kitchen utensils and toys. Good walnut substitute. The chemical predecessor of aspirin originally was isolated from willow bark. 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 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. The wood is weak in bending, compression, shock-resistance and stiffness, with a poor steam-bending classification