Lumber Facts

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Ash

Color and Appearance: The heartwood is a light brown color, though darker shades can also be seen, which is sometimes sold as Olive Ash. Sapwood can be very wide, and tends to be a beige or light brown; not always clearly or sharply demarcated from heartwood. Has a medium to coarse texture similar to oak. The grain is almost always straight and regular, though sometimes moderately curly or figured boards can be found.

Workability: Produces good results with hand or machine tools. Responds well to steam bending. Glues, stains, and finishes well.

Catalpa

Color and Appearance: Heartwood color can range from a neutral grayish tan to a richer golden brown: nearly the entire trunk is composed of heartwood. Narrow sapwood is a pale gray. Overall appearance somewhat resembles ash. Grain is straight, with an open, coarse texture.

Workability: Generally easy to work with hand and machine tools, though care must be taken during sanding to avoid creating indents and ridges where the lighter latewood areas tend to sand more readily than the earlywood portions. (Using a rigid-backed sanding block is recommended.) Turns, glues, and finishes well, though pore-filling is necessary to obtain a smooth finished surface.

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OWC-JM-16.jpg

Cherry

Color and Appearance: Heartwood is a light pinkish brown when freshly cut, darkening to a deeper golden brown with time and upon exposure to light. Sapwood is a pale yellowish color. Has a fine texture with close grain. The grain is usually straight and easy to work—with the exception of figured pieces with curly grain patterns.

Workability: Cherry is known as being one of the best all-around woods for workability. It is stable, straight-grained, and machines well. The only difficulties typically arise if the wood is being stained, as it can sometimes give blotchy results due to its fine, closed pores.

Eastern Red Cedar

Color and Appearance: Heartwood tends to be reddish or violet-brown. Sapwood is a pale yellow color and can appear throughout the heartwood as streaks and stripes. Has a straight grain, usually with knots present. Has a very fine even texture.

Workability: Overall, Aromatic Red Cedar is easy to work, notwithstanding any knots or irregularities present in the wood. It reportedly has a high silica content, which can dull cutters. Aromatic Red Cedar glues and finishes well, though, in many applications, the wood is left unfinished to preserve its aromatic properties.

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OWC-JM-16.jpg

Hackberry

Color and Appearance: Heartwood is light brown to gray. Wide sapwood is a contrasting light yellow. Susceptible to blue-gray fungal staining if not processed promptly. Its overall appearance is similar to ash (Fraxinus spp.), and it’s sometimes used in place of ash. The grain is usually straight or occasionally slightly interlocked, with a very coarse uneven texture.

Workability: Generally good working characteristics with both hand and machine tools, though smaller pieces with knots or sections with the interlocked grain can pose challenges in machining. Responds superbly to steam bending. Glues, turns, stains, and finishes well.

Maple

Color and Appearance: Unlike most other hardwoods, the sapwood of Hard Maple lumber is most commonly used rather than its heartwood. Sapwood color ranges from nearly white, to an off-white cream color, sometimes with a reddish or golden hue. The heartwood tends to be a darker reddish-brown. Birdseye Maple is a figure found most commonly in Hard Maple, though it’s also found less frequently in other species. Hard Maple can also be seen with curly or quilted grain patterns. The grain is generally straight but may be wavy. Has a fine, even texture.

Workability: Fairly easy to work with both hand and machine tools, though slightly more difficult than Soft Maple due to Hard Maple’s higher density. Maple has a tendency to burn when being machined with high-speed cutters such as in a router. Turns, glues, and finishes well, though blotches can occur when staining, and a pre-conditioner, gel stain, or toner may be necessary to get an even color.

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OWC-JM-16.jpg

Spalted Maple

Color and Appearance: Spalted Maple is not a species of Maple, but rather any type of Maple that has been allowed to begin initial stages of decay, and then subsequently dried.  The partial decay, called spalting, gives the wood dark contrasting lines and streaks where fungus has begun to attack the wood. If the wood has been rescued from the spalting at the right time, the lumber should still be sound and usable, with little to no soft spots or rotten wood.  

Workability: Fairly easy to work with both hand and machine tools, though slightly more difficult than Soft Maple due to Hard Maple’s higher density. Maple has a tendency to burn when being machined with high-speed cutters such as in a router. Turns, glues, and finishes well, though blotches can occur when staining, and a pre-conditioner, gel stain, or toner may be necessary to get an even color.

Poplar

Color and Appearance: Heartwood is light cream to yellowish brown, with occasional streaks of gray or green. Sapwood is pale yellow to white, not always clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Can also be seen in mineral stained colors ranging from dark purple to red, green, or yellow, sometimes referred to as Rainbow Poplar. Colors tend to darken upon exposure to light. Poplar typically has a straight, uniform grain, with a medium texture. Low natural luster.

Workability: Very easy to work in almost all regards,  one of Poplar’s only downsides is its softness. Due to its low density, Poplar can sometimes leave fuzzy surfaces and edges: especially during shaping or sanding. Sanding to finer grits of sandpaper may be necessary to obtain a smooth surface.

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OWC-JM-16.jpg

Red Oak

Color and Appearance: Heartwood is a light to medium brown, commonly with a reddish cast. Nearly white to light brown sapwood is not always sharply demarcated from the heartwood. Quartersawn sections display prominent ray fleck patterns.  Grain is straight, with a coarse, uneven texture. The pores are so large and open that it is said that a person can blow into one end of the wood, and air will come out the other end: provided that the grain runs straight enough. (See the video below.)

Workability: Produces good results with hand and machine tools. Has moderately high shrinkage values, resulting in mediocre dimensional stability, especially in flatsawn boards. Can react with iron (particularly when wet) and cause staining and discoloration. Responds well to steam-bending. Glues, stains, and finishes well.

White Oak

Color and Appearance: Heartwood is a light to medium brown, commonly with an olive cast. Nearly white to light brown sapwood is not always sharply demarcated from the heartwood. Grain is straight, with a coarse, uneven texture. 

Workability: Produces good results with hand and machine tools. Has moderately high shrinkage values, resulting in mediocre dimensional stability, especially in flatsawn boards. Can react with iron (particularly when wet) and cause staining and discoloration. Responds well to steam-bending. Glues, stains, and finishes well.

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OWC-JM-16.jpg

Quartersawn White Oak

Color and Appearance: Heartwood is a light to medium brown, commonly with an olive cast. Nearly white to light brown sapwood is not always sharply demarcated from the heartwood. Quartersawn sections display prominent ray fleck patterns.  Grain is straight, with a coarse, uneven texture. Quartersawing makes the lumber more stable than.

Workability: Produces good results with hand and machine tools. Has moderately high shrinkage values, resulting in mediocre dimensional stability, especially in flatsawn boards. Can react with iron (particularly when wet) and cause staining and discoloration. Responds well to steam-bending. Glues, stains, and finishes well.

Sassafras

Color and Appearance: Heartwood is a medium to light brown, sometimes with an orange or olive hue. Color tends to darken with age. Sapwood is a paler yellowish brown, though it isn’t always clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Overall, Sassafras bears a strong resemblance to ash (Fraxinus spp.) and chestnut (Castanea spp.).  Grain is straight, with a coarse uneven texture.

Workability: Easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Sassafras also has good dimensional stability once dry. Glues, stains, and finishes well.

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Sycamore

Color and Appearance: Similar to maple, the wood of Sycamore trees is predominantly comprised of the sapwood, with some darker heartwood streaks also found in most boards. (Though it is not uncommon to also see entire boards of heartwood too.) The sapwood is white to light tan, while the heartwood is a darker reddish brown. Sycamore also has very distinct ray flecks present on quartersawn surfaces—giving it a freckled appearance—and it is sometimes even called “Lacewood,” though it bears little botanical relation to the tropical species of Lacewood. Sycamore has a fine and even texture that is very similar to maple. The grain is interlocked.

Workability: Overall, Sycamore works easily with both hand and machine tools, though the interlocked grain can be troublesome in surfacing and machining operations at times. Sycamore turns, glues, and finishes well. Responds poorly to steam bending.

Walnut

Color and Appearance: Heartwood can range from a lighter pale brown to a dark chocolate brown with darker brown streaks. Color can sometimes have a grey, purple, or reddish cast. Sapwood is pale yellow-gray to nearly white. Figured grain patterns such as curl, crotch, and burl are also seen. Grain is usually straight, but can be irregular. Has a medium texture and moderate natural luster.

Workability: Typically easy to work provided the grain is straight and regular. Planer tearout can sometimes be a problem when surfacing pieces with irregular or figured grain. Glues, stains, and finishes well, (though walnut is rarely stained). Responds well to steam bending.

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Address:

8805 Lancaster Ave.

Cincinnati, OH 45242

Phone:

513-581-0361

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