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Ash Wood: A History of Its Use in Traditional Craftsmanship

Timber Knowledge Industry Practices
18 July 2023 min read

Ash Wood: A History of Its Use in Traditional Craftsmanship

Need help finding a suitable wood for your next project? It's normal to feel uncertain when faced with many beautiful wood choices.

But what if there was a wood that ticked all your checkboxes?If you're looking for a versatile and popular choice, consider ash wood.

From its use in the weapons of the Vikings to the ornate furniture of the Elizabethan era, ash wood has proven its worth. In this article, we’ll delve into the history of ash wood and explore why it could be the time-tested answer to your woodworking needs.


Introduction to Ash Wood

Ash trees are native to Europe, Asia, and North America. They are deciduous trees that can grow up to 40m tall with a diameter of 120cm. The wood is known for its strength, elasticity, and durability, making it an ideal choice for furniture, flooring, tools, and sports equipment.

Due to its excellent properties, ash wood has been popular throughout the ages, from ancient to modern times. In Viking times, ash-made weapons like spears and bows. Later, during the Elizabethan era, ash was used in furniture-making and panelling. Today, the popular wood is used in various products, from baseball bats to electric guitars.

Traditional Uses of Ash Wood

Ash is known for its exceptional strength and resilience, making it an ideal choice for traditional woodwork. The wood is hard-wearing and long-lasting—perfect for manufacturing products meant to last.



Ash wood's durability and strength make it ideal for fine furniture-making. It’s commonly used to make dining tables, chairs, and cabinets. The wood’s light colour and distinctive grain pattern make it a beautiful choice for intricate carving and embellishments.


Longbows and Arrows

Ash wood's flexibility and straight grain make it an excellent choice for making longbows and arrows. Its ability to bend without breaking and its strength makes it the preferred choice for archers and hunters.



Ash also plays a critical role in tool-making. For example, ash wood handles are commonly used for hammers, chisels and axes due to their hardness and shock resistance. 

Further, the flexibility of ash wood makes it an ideal choice for crafting long tool handles like those found on rakes or shovels, providing both durability and comfort during extended use.


Sports Equipment

Ash is also commonly used in manufacturing sports equipment. It’s lightweight yet sturdy, making it ideal for baseball bats and hockey sticks.


The Benefits of Ash Wood

Ash trees are known for their adaptability and workability. From a woodworking perspective, ash wood offers several benefits:

Flexibility and elasticity: Ash wood’s flexibility and elasticity make it the ideal choice for tool handles, longbows, and various other products. It’s a superb choice for any product that must be flexible and strong.

Durability: Ash wood is known for its ability to withstand wear and tear, making it ideal for manufacturing products that need to be long-lasting and durable.

Shock resistance: Ash wood’s unique properties enable it to resist impact and shock, rendering it perfect for tool handles, sports equipment, and flooring.

Colour and grain: Ash has a light colour, sometimes appearing cream or tan. Its grain is straight, uniform and coarse, making it a beautiful choice for furniture and decorative elements.


Exploring Ash Wood's Future and Sustainable Practices

As we continue to consider the traditional uses of ash wood, it is equally important to consider its prospects. With increased awareness regarding environmental sustainability, the use and management of ash have become a subject of discussion among modern woodworkers, urban planners, and environmentalists.


Emerging Uses of Ash Wood

In recent years, we have seen ash being used innovatively. Beyond its well-known uses in furniture and tools, it is now utilised in architectural elements, electric vehicle parts, and the fashion industry. Its enduring appeal lies in its strength, flexibility, and beauty. But the value of ash wood is also found in its capacity to adapt to new uses and to be a part of sustainable practices. 

The wood’s structural qualities and aesthetic appeal have increased its architectural use. From building structures to flooring and decorative elements, the wood's versatility is being fully realised. The electric vehicle industry is also discovering the benefits of ash wood. Its light weight and strength make it an ideal choice for interior elements of the car, contributing to overall vehicle efficiency.

Additionally, the fashion industry has also embraced ash wood. With its natural grain and light colour, ash is used to craft accessories such as eyeglass frames, wristwatch bodies, and decorative elements on bags and belts. Its unique texture and hue make it an attractive, sustainable alternative to traditional materials.


Sustainability and Ash Wood

As we continue exploring the possibilities with ash wood, we also recognise the need to protect and manage our natural resources responsibly. As demand increases, it is crucial to practice responsible forestry. 

Several organisations, including Woodshop Direct, have committed to sustainable practices, ensuring ash wood is harvested responsibly, thereby contributing to the preservation of our forests.

Further, innovative solutions like tree cloning and seed banks are being explored to maintain the ash tree population. This ensures a steady supply of ash wood without upsetting the ecological balance. Also, developing disease-resistant strains of ash trees could play a significant role in future forestry practices.

Education on the importance of sustainability in woodworking is also vital. At Woodshop Direct, we understand the importance of educating our customers about the origin of the wood they purchase and the need for responsible consumption. We are committed to promoting sustainable practices in our operations and guiding our clients in making environmentally conscious choices.


Exceptional Wood Solutions from Woodshop Direct

The use of ash in traditional craftsmanship has a rich past and a promising future. From Viking longbows to Elizabethan furniture, ash wood has been essential in woodworking throughout human history. 

The wood’s durability, flexibility, and shock-resistant properties have made it a popular choice for tool-making, sports equipment, furniture, and more. 

Today, ash wood continues to be a popular choice for manufacturers, woodworkers, and designers. If you're considering using ash wood for your next project, browse our website or speak to our team at Woodshop Direct today.