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domestic-hardwood

Elm (Ulmus americana, U. rubra, U. thomasii, U. alata, U. crassifolia, U. serotina)

Elm is a domestic hardwood

Location

Six species of elm grow in the eastern United States: American (Ulmus americana), slippery (U. rubra), rock (U. thomasii), winged (U. alata), cedar (U. crassifolia), and September (U. serotina) elm. American elm is also known as white, water, and gray elm; slippery elm as red elm; rock elm as cork and hickory elm; winged elm as wahoo; cedar elm as red and basket elm; and September elm as red elm. American elm is threatened by two diseases, Dutch Elm disease and phloem necrosis, which have killed hundreds of thousands of trees.

Characteristics

Sapwood of elm is nearly white and heartwood light brown, often tinged with red. Elm may be divided into two general classes, soft and hard, based on the weight and strength of the wood. Soft elm includes American and slippery elm. It is moderately heavy, has high shock resistance, and is moderately hard and stiff. Hard elm includes rock, winged, cedar, and September elm. These species are somewhat heavier than soft elm. Elm has excellent bending qualities.

Primary Uses

Historically, elm lumber was used for boxes, baskets, crates, and slack cooperage; furniture; agricultural supplies and implements; caskets and burial boxes; and wood components in vehicles. Today, elm lumber and veneer are used mostly for furniture and decorative panels. Hard elm is preferred for uses that require strength.

*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.

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domestic-hardwood

Cottonwood ( Populus)

Cottonwood is a domestic hardwood

Location

Cottonwood includes several species of the genus Populus. Most important are eastern cottonwood (P. deltoides and varieties), also known as Carolina poplar and whitewood; swamp cottonwood (P. heterophylla), also known as cottonwood, river cottonwood, and swamp poplar; black cottonwood (P. trichocarpa); and balsam poplar (P. balsamifera). Eastern and swamp cottonwood grow throughout the eastern half of the United States. Greatest production of lumber is in the Southern and Central States. Black cottonwood grows on the West Coast and in western Montana, northern Idaho, and western Nevada. Balsam poplar grows from Alaska across Canada and in the northern Great Lakes States.

Characteristics

The heartwood of cottonwood is grayish white to light brown. The sapwood is whitish and merges gradually with the heartwood. The wood is comparatively uniform in texture and generally straight grained. It is odorless when well dried. Eastern cottonwood is moderately low in bending and compressive strength, moderately stiff, moderately soft, and moderately low in ability to resist shock. Most strength properties of black cottonwood are slightly lower than those of eastern cottonwood. Both eastern and black cottonwood have moderately high shrinkage. Some cottonwood is difficult to work with tools because of its fuzzy surface, which is mainly the result of tension wood.

Primary Uses

Cottonwood is used principally for lumber, veneer, pulpwood, excelsior, and fuel. Lumber and veneer are used primarily for boxes, crates, baskets, and pallets.

*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.

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domestic-hardwood

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.

*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.

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domestic-hardwood

Cherry, Black (Prunus serotina)

Cherry, Black is a domestic hardwood

Location

Black cherry (Prunus serotina) is sometimes known as cherry, wild black cherry, and wild cherry. It is the only native species of the genus Prunus of commercial importance for lumber production. Black cherry is found from southeastern Canada throughout the eastern half of the United States. Production is centered chiefly in the Middle Atlantic States.

Characteristics

The heartwood of black cherry varies from light to dark reddish brown and has a distinctive luster. The nearly white sapwood is narrow in old-growth trees and wider in secondgrowth trees. The wood has a fairly uniform texture and very good machining properties. It is moderately heavy, strong, stiff, and moderately hard; it has high shock resistance and moderately high shrinkage. Black cherry is very dimensionally stable after drying.

Primary Uses

Black cherry is used principally for furniture, fine veneer panels, and architectural woodwork. Other uses include burial caskets, wooden ware, novelties, patterns, and paneling.

*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.

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domestic-hardwood

Butternut (Juglans cinerea)

Butternut is a domestic hardwood

Location

Also called white walnut, butternut (Juglans cinerea) grows from southern New Brunswick and Maine west to Minnesota. Its southern range extends into northeastern Arkansas and eastward to western North Carolina.

Characteristics

The narrow sapwood is nearly white and heartwood is light brown, frequently modified by pinkish tones or darker brown streaks. The wood is moderately light in weight (about the same as eastern white pine), rather coarse textured, moderately weak in bending and endwise compression, relatively low in stiffness, moderately soft, and moderately high in shock resistance. Butternut machines easily and finishes well. In many ways, butternut resembles black walnut especially when stained, but it does not have the same strength or hardness.

Primary Uses

Principal uses are for lumber and veneer, which are further manufactured into furniture, cabinets, paneling, interior woodwork, and miscellaneous rough items.

*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.

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domestic-hardwood

Buckeye (Aesculus octandra, A. glabra)

Buckeye is a domestic hardwood

Buckeye consists of two species, yellow buckeye (Aesculus octandra) and Ohio buckeye (A. glabra). These species range from the Appalachians of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina westward to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Buckeye is not customarily separated from other species when manufactured into lumber and can be used for the same purposes as aspen (Populus), basswood (Tilia), and sapwood of yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera).

Characteristics

The white sapwood of buckeye merges gradually into the creamy or yellowish white heartwood. The wood is uniform in texture, generally straight grained, light in weight, weak when used as a beam, soft, and low in shock resistance. It is rated low on machinability such as shaping, mortising, boring, and turning.

Primary Uses

Buckeye is suitable for pulping for paper; in lumber form, it has been used principally for furniture, boxes and crates, food containers, wooden ware, novelties, and planing mill products.

*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.

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domestic-hardwood

Birch (Betula alleghaniensis, B. lenta, B. papyrifera)

Birch is a domestic hardwood

The three most important species are yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), sweet birch (B. lenta), and paper birch (B. papyrifera). These three species are the source of most birch lumber and veneer. Other birch species of some commercial importance are river birch (B. nigra), gray birch (B. populifolia), and western paper birch (B. papyrifera var. commutata). Yellow, sweet, and paper birch grow principally in the Northeast and the Lake States; yellow and sweet birch also grow along the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia.

Characteristics

Yellow birch has white sapwood and light reddish-brown heartwood. Sweet birch has light-colored sapwood and dark brown heartwood tinged with red. For both yellow and sweet birch, the wood is heavy, hard, and strong, and it has good shock-resisting ability. The wood is fine and uniform in texture. Paper birch is lower in weight, softer, and lower in strength than yellow and sweet birch. Birch shrinks considerably during drying.

Primary Uses

Yellow and sweet birch lumber is used primarily for the manufacture of furniture, boxes, baskets, crates, wooden ware, cooperage, interior woodwork, and doors; veneer plywood is used for flush doors, furniture, paneling, cabinets, aircraft, and other specialty uses. Paper birch is used for toothpicks, tongue depressors, ice cream sticks, and turned products, including spools, bobbins, small handles, and toys.

*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.

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domestic-hardwood

Beech, American (Fagus grandifolia)

Beech, American is a domestic hardwood

Only one species of beech, American beech (Fagus grandifolia), is native to the United States. It grows in the eastern one-third of the United States and adjacent Canadian provinces. The greatest production of beech lumber is in the Central and Middle Atlantic States.

Characteristics

In some beech trees, color varies from nearly white sapwood to reddish-brown heartwood. Sometimes there is no clear line of demarcation between heartwood and sapwood. Sapwood may be roughly 7 to 13 cm (3 to 5 in.) wide. The wood has little figure and is of close, uniform texture. It has no characteristic taste or odor. The wood of beech is classed as heavy, hard, strong, high in resistance to shock, and highly suitable for steam bending. Beech shrinks substantially and therefore requires careful drying. It machines smoothly, is an excellent wood for turning, wears well, and is rather easily treated with preservatives.

Primary Uses

Most beech is used for flooring, furniture, brush blocks, handles, veneer, woodenware, containers, and cooperage. When treated with preservative, beech is suitable for railway ties.

*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.

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domestic-hardwood

Basswood (Tilia americana)

Basswood is a domestic hardwood

American basswood (Tilia americana) is the most important of the native basswood species; next in importance is white basswood (T. heterophylla), and no attempt is made to distinguish between these species in lumber form. In commercial usage, “white basswood” is used to specify the white wood or sapwood of either species. Basswood grows in the eastern half of the United States from the Canadian provinces southward. Most basswood lumber comes from the Lake, Middle Atlantic, and Central States.

Characteristics

The heartwood of basswood is pale yellowish brown with occasional darker streaks. Basswood has wide, creamy white or pale brown sapwood that merges gradually into heartwood. When dry, the wood is without odor or taste. It is soft and light in weight, has fine, even texture, and is straight grained and easy to work with tools. Shrinkage in width and thickness during drying is rated as high; however, basswood seldom warps in use.

Primary Uses

Basswood lumber is used mainly in venetian blinds, sashes and door frames, moulding, apiary supplies, wooden ware, and boxes. Some basswood is cut for veneer, cooperage, excelsior, and pulpwood, and it is a favorite of wood carvers.

*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.

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domestic-hardwood

Aspen (Populus grandidentata, P. tremuloides)

Aspen is a domestic hardwood

Aspen is a generally recognized name that is applied to bigtooth (Populus grandidentata) and quaking (P. tremuloides) aspen. Aspen does not include balsam poplar (P. balsamifera) and the other species of Populus that are included in the cottonwoods. In lumber statistics of the U.S. Bureau of the Census, however, the term cottonwood includes all the preceding species. Also, the lumber of aspen and cottonwood may be mixed in trade and sold as either popple or cottonwood. The name popple should not be confused with yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), also known in the trade as poplar. Aspen lumber is produced principally in the Northeastern and Lake States, with some production in the Rocky Mountain States.

Characteristics

The heartwood of aspen is grayish white to light grayish brown. The sapwood is lighter colored and generally merges gradually into the heartwood without being clearly marked. Aspen wood is usually straight grained with a fine, uniform texture. It is easily worked. Well-dried aspen lumber does not impart odor or flavor to foodstuffs. The wood of aspen is lightweight and soft. It is low in strength, moderately stiff, and moderately low in resistance to shock and has moderately high shrinkage.

Primary Uses

Aspen is cut for lumber, pallets, boxes and crating, pulpwood, particleboard, strand panels, excelsior, matches, veneer, and miscellaneous turned articles. Today, aspen is one of the preferred species for use in oriented strandboard, a panel product that is increasingly being used as sheathing.

*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.