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Chestnut, American

Chestnut, American (Castanea dentata)

Chestnut, American is a domestic hardwood

Location

American chestnut (Castanea dentata) is also known as sweet chestnut. Before this species was attacked by a blight in the 1920s, it grew in commercial quantities from New England to northern Georgia. Practically all standing chestnut has been killed by blight, and most supplies of the lumber come from salvaged timbers. Because of the species’ natural resistance to decay, standing dead trees in the Appalachian Mountains continued to provide substantial quantities of lumber for several decades after the blight, but this source is now exhausted.

Characteristics

The heartwood of chestnut is grayish brown or brown and darkens with age. The sapwood is very narrow and almost white. The wood is coarse in texture; growth rings are made conspicuous by several rows of large, distinct pores at the beginning of each year’s growth. Chestnut wood is moderately light in weight, moderately hard, moderately low in strength, moderately low in resistance to shock, and low in stiffness. It dries well and is easy to work with tools.

Primary Uses

Chestnut was once used for poles, railroad crossties, furniture, caskets, boxes, shingles, crates, and corestock for veneer panels. At present, it appears most frequently as wormy chestnut for paneling, interior woodwork, and picture frames.

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