Hardwood Facts

Learn more about the species that Premium Hardwoods, Inc. saws or read important hardwood market news.

Species we saw
Ash
Cherry
Hickory
Hard Maple
Soft Maple
Beech
Poplar
Red Oak
Walnut
White Oak

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Species we saw

Ash

Tree Characteristics:

There are 16 ashes native to the United States. Three of the most important are the black, green, and white ashes which grow in the eastern U.S. White ash is the largest and most common. It can grow to 120' high, but is commonly found at 70-80' high with a trunk that is 3' in diameter. Each leaf on an ash tree usually consists of anywhere between 3-11 leaflets. They are deciduous trees. The bark is thick, furrowed or scaly, and is usually ash-gray.

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products

Wood Characteristics:
Properties:
- heavy, hard, strong, stiff
- good shock resistance
- excellent bending qualities
- holds screws and nails moderately well; has tendency to split
- kiln-dries satisfactorily
- holds shape well after seasoning
- low resistance to decay
- wood stays smooth under constant rubbing
Used for:
- standard wood for D-handles for shovels and spades
- long handles of forks, hoes, rakes, shovels
- furniture - bent parts of chairs
- sporting equipment including oars and bats

Cherry

Tree Characteristics:

The Black cherry is the only cherry tree in the U.S. with commerical value. It can grow in excess of 60' high and 3' or more in diameter. The leaves are oblong and pointed, with finely-toothed edges. Cherry trees are deciduous. The bark is in small, scaly plates. The Black cherry is an intolerant species; it will not survive long when competing with other trees for sunlight. It can become established only in forest openings, and can be regenerated only when surrounding vegetation is cut.

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products

Wood Characteristics:
Properties:
- stiff and strong
- moderately hard and heavy
- high resistance to shock
- stays in place well after seasoning
- comparatively free from checking and warping
- difficult to work with handtools
- excellent bending strength
- glued satisfactorily
Used for:
- high quality furniture
- veneer
- backing blocks for electrotype plates
- woodenware
- interior finishes
- interior parts of furniture
- molding and trim

Hickory

Tree Characteristics:

There are 15 species of hickories; eight of which are considered commercially important in the U.S. A majority of the hickories in the eastern U.S. can reach heights of over 100' with diameters of 3-4'. The leaves on hickories contain 3-17 oval, pointed, toothed leaflets and are deciduous. The bark on younger trees is smooth and gray, but with age the bark becomes rough and scaly.

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products

Wood Characteristics:
Properties:
- very heavy, very hard, very strong, very stiff
- exceedingly high resistance to shock
- combination of strength, toughness, hardness, and stiffness not found in any other commercial wood
- very large shrinkage
- must be carefully seasoned to avoid checking and warping
- glued satisfactorily
Used for:
- 4/5 goes into manufacture of tool handles
- agricultural implements
- athletic goods such as bats
- interior parts of furniture

Hard Maple

Tree Characteristics:

There are 115 species of maples worldwide; of the thirteen species native to the U.S., five are important timber trees. The Sugar Maple is one of the largest and most important hardwoods in eastern forests. It can grow 75-100' in height withe a diameter between 3-4'. Its sap is used to make maple sugar and syrup.

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products

Wood Characteristics:
Properties:
- heavy, strong, stiff
- high resistance to shock
- shrinkage during seasoning is large
- high resistance to nail-withdrawal
- intermediate in ease of gluing
- takes stain satisfactorily
- polishes well
- usually straight-grained; occasionally has curly, wavy, or "bird's-eye" grain
- very resistant to abrasive wear
- no characteristic taste or odor

Used for:
- lumber
- distilled products
- veneer
- crossties
- pulpwood
- flooring
- furniture
- boxes
- crates
- handles
- interior finish
- cabinets
- woodenware


Soft Maple

Tree Characteristics:

Soft maples are very much like the hard maple. This group includes trees such as the Red Maple and Silver Maple. Both trees can reach heights between 75-120' with diameters between 2-4'.

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products

Wood Characteristics:

Properties:
- softer than hard maple
- not as strong or durable

Used for:
- furniture
- boxes
- woodenware

Beech

Tree Characteristics:

A deciduous tree that grows 60-80' high with a diameter between 2-3', the American Beech is highly regarded as an ornamental tree for its shape and mottled bark. It is long-lived and free from diseases. It is known for its smooth, light-colored bark which has attracted carvers of initials, hearts, and dates that remain throughout the life of the tree and deface its attractive trunk.

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products

Wood Characteristics:
Properties:
- heavy, strong
- resistant to shock
- readily bent when steamed
- wears well
- remains smooth under friction
- good nail-holding capacity; tendency to split
- difficult to work with tools
- difficult to kiln dry
- its short-fibered pulp is good for paper manufacturing when mixed with other long-fibered pulps
- heavier than most hardwoods

Used for:
- lumber
- veneer
- ties
- pulpwood
- baskets
- flooring
- furniture
- boxes
- crates
- handles
- food containers
- millwork
- chair backs/rungs


Poplar

Tree Characteristics:

The Yellow Poplar is one of the most attractive species in eastern forests. The tree is especially stately in areas around the Appalachians and Lower Ohio River Basin. It can reach a height of 200'. Its trunk is straight, can grow to 8-10' in diameter, and is sometimes free of branches 80-100' from the ground. The bark is light gray to brown.

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products

Wood Characteristics:
Properties:
- moderately light in weight, moderately stiff
- moderately low in shock resistance
- moderately low in bending and compressive strength
- moderately low shrinkage when dried
- not difficult to season
- stays in place well after seasoned
- intermediate in machining properties
- low in nail-withdrawal resistance
- little tendency to split when nailed
- takes and holds paints, enamel, and stain very well
Used for:
- lumber (used for interior parts of furniture, boxes, crates, interior finish, siding, veneer core-stock, musical instruments, and fixtures)
- veneer (used for furniture, finish, cabinetwork)
- pulpwood

Red Oak

Tree Characteristics:

Together, Red Oaks and White Oaks make up one of the most important segments of hardwood in eastern forests. Red Oaks can reach 60-80' in height and over 3' in diameter. The leaves are deciduous, often with pointed lobes and tipped with bristles or spines. Red Oak acorns are hairy inside and taste bitter, requiring two seasons to mature.

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products

Wood Characteristics:
Properties:
- extremely porous
- heavy, hard, stiff
- high shock resistance
- large shrinkage during seasoning
- above average in all machining operations except shaping
Used for:
- flooring
- slack cooperage
- furniture
- millwork
- boxes
- crates
- caskets
- timbers
- handles
- coffins
- pallets
- agricultural implements
- boats
- woodenware
- crossties
- mine timbers
- fence posts

Walnut

Tree Characteristics:

The Black Walnut can reach 100' in height and 2-3' in diameter. It grows best in well-drained bottomlands and coves of the Appalachians. Its leaves are deciduous, 12-24" long with 15-23 long-pointed, toothed leaflets.

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products

Wood Characteristics:
Properties:
- heavy, hard, strong, stiff
- good shock resistance
- works easily with hand or machine tools
- takes and holds paints and stains exceptionally well
- readily polished
- easily glued
- wood finishes beautifully; outstanding handsome grain color and pattern
Used for:
- furniture of the highest quality
- interior finishing
- gunstocks

White Oak

Tree Characteristics:

White Oaks can reach a height of 80-100' and grow to a diameter of 3-4'. Its leaves are deciduous and have rounded lobes. Unlike the Red Oak, the White Oak's acorns are not bitter, taking only one season to mature, and are hairless inside.

Wood Characteristics:

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products

Properties:
- heavy, very hard, strong
- large shrinkage during seasoning
- extra care must be taken to avoid checking and warping
- pores of heartwood impervious to liquids: only successful wood for tight cooperage
- heartwood is comparatively decay resistant
- above average in all machining operations except shaping
Used for:
- high-quality flooring
- furniture
- tight cooperage
- millwork
- timbers
- handles
- boxes
- crates
- barrels
- kegs
- casks
- ships
- boats
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