Characteristics of ash wood

Autumn. A mountain ash with yellow leaves in wood. image by djandre77 from

Each type and variety of wood has its own unique and distinct characteristics. The characteristics of different types of wood are often used to identify what a product is made out of, what wood to use for what project, and how to use each wood in a project.

Ash is commonly used for many projects because of its versatility and unique characteristics.


There are roughly 70 species of ash trees in the world, but only two are used commercially. Ash wood is primarily creamy white in colour, although it can range to a beige colour in black ash varieties. The sapwood, or the youngest wood at the outer edges of the tree, is a very clear white to pale yellow while the heartwood, or the oldest wood from the centre of the tree, ranges from light to medium browns. The grain of ash wood is very straight and distinctive with wide spacing and brown streaks. It is a very hard wood with high density, which makes it a good substitute in both looks and usage for oak, and is very shock resistant. It weighs approximately 18.6 Kilogram per cubic foot.

Finishing and Workability

Ash wood takes all types of finishes whether they are oil or water based. Stains bring out the grain very nicely, and the ash looks similar to an oak when finished. Ash wood takes stains a little better than oak and therefore has a brighter finish. The wood is ring porous, which means there will be tiny holes in the wood that will be brought out by a stain or finish so if a clean, pore-free finish is desired then all pores must be filled with pore filler before finishing. Ash works very well with all types of tools--power or hand operated. It takes and holds glue well, but pre-drilling is recommended when using screws to join pieces; because of the wood's high density it is likely to split if a screw is attached without a hole drilled first. Ash wood bends very well and is best known for its bending properties.


Due to its bending properties, finish acceptance, nice grain pattern and high density ash wood is very versatile. It is used in furniture, mouldings, flooring and, most notably, baseball bats. Many baseball players have chosen ash bats over other woods because of its strength to weight ratio. The wood has also been used for tool handles, hockey sticks and canoe paddles for the same strength to weight ratio. Because of its versatility ash wood is also ideal for fine woodworking and craft projects.