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The Unique Characteristics of Ash Wood: What Sets It Apart

Timber Knowledge
18 July 2023 min read

The Unique Characteristics of Ash Wood: What Sets It Apart

Are you struggling to choose the right wood for your next project? You're not alone. With so many wood varieties, understanding their unique characteristics can be overwhelming.

Ash wood is an excellent choice for many woodworking applications due to its straight grain, light colour, and incredible strength-to-weight ratio. It’s also one of the most versatile types of hardwood due to its unique qualities and popularity. 

This article will explore the characteristics that distinguish ash wood from other woods, its uses, and its benefits.


What is Ash Wood?

Ash (Fraxinus) is a deciduous tree species widely known for its strong and durable wood. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North America, with various species on these continents. In the UK, the two main species are common ash and the less common narrow-leaved ash, which are highly valued in the industry. 


Characteristics of Ash Wood

Density and Strength

Ash is one of the hardest and strongest hardwoods on the market. It’s highly dense with a Janka hardness rating of 1320, making it very wear and tear resilient. The wood's high density and strength make it a popular choice for furniture, flooring, tool handles, sports equipment, and other applications that require high durability.


Grain Pattern

The grain of ash wood is straight or slightly wavy and has a uniform texture that gives it a contemporary look. In fact, ash has a unique feature called a “strong figure,” which makes it stand out as a decorative wood. So, when someone says that ash wood has a "strong figure," they're referring to the fact that the grain patterns in the wood are pronounced and visible. 

The obvious presence of these patterns can give projects made with ash a striking appearance, adding to the aesthetic appeal of the piece. This natural design results from the annual growth ring structure, and it can produce beautiful and intricate designs on the wood's surface. 


Colour and Appearance

Ash wood is known for its light, creamy colour and subtle reddish-brown hue. This adds an aesthetic appeal to its strength and durability. The wood has a natural lustre and a beautiful grain pattern that varies from board to board, which makes every piece unique. Black ash and white ash have different appearances, although both come from the Fraxinus, or ash tree, family.

White ash (Fraxinus americana): This wood's colour is typically light and can range from a pale yellow to a more creamy or light brown colour. It doesn't usually display stark white tones as the name might suggest.

Black ash (Fraxinus nigra): Black ash is not actually black in colour. Its heartwood is light to medium brown, not substantially different from White ash. The sapwood can be very wide and tends to be beige or light brown.

There are several other species of ash trees as well, including European ash (Fraxinus excelsior), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), and blue ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata), each with their unique characteristics and colour ranges. However, most ash wood tends to be in the light to medium brown range, with the sapwood being lighter than the heartwood.


Uses of Ash Wood


Ash wood has been a popular choice for furniture makers for centuries due to its strength and durability. It’s used for any furniture that requires sturdiness and longevity, including chairs, tables, shelves, bed frames, and cabinets. It’s also an excellent choice for outdoor furniture since it can withstand moisture and weathering.



Ash wood is also a great option for flooring due to its high density and strength. It can withstand heavy foot traffic without showing signs of wear and tear. Ash floors have a unique look that provides a contemporary yet natural aesthetic.


Tool Handles and Sports Equipment

Due to its durability and strength, ash wood is a favourite for making tool handles, such as hammers and axes. The wood's elastic nature provides the shock absorption qualities for these kinds of tools. 

Ash is also used for baseball bats, hockey sticks and snooker cues in sports due to its strength and ability to absorb shock.


Benefits of Ash Wood

Durability and Strength

Ash wood is incredibly strong, making it a fantastic option for any project that requires durability and longevity. Its high density and unique grain pattern make it stand out, adding to its aesthetic appeal.


Ease of Workability

Ash is easy to work with due to its straight grain pattern. This means it can be cut and shaped easily with standard woodworking tools without requiring specialised equipment. As a bonus, it also stains and finishes well, adding to its appeal and versatility. 

Further, ash wood responds well to steam bending, making it an ideal choice for curved designs in furniture and crafts. From cabinets and wardrobes to musical instruments, the flexibility of ash allows creativity and versatility in design. 



Ash trees are widely distributed worldwide, making the wood a readily available option for both hobbyists and professionals. This means it's easy to find a supplier for any required quantity of ash wood for your next project.



Ash wood provides a balance between quality and affordability. It’s moderately priced compared to other hardwoods and generally more affordable than high-end woods like mahogany or walnut. However, it's pricier than softwoods such as pine. Therefore, its mid-range price point makes it a cost-effective choice for various projects. This, combined with its durability and aesthetic appeal, ensures excellent value for money.


Environmentally Friendly

Ash trees grow rapidly and are a sustainable source of timber, contributing to global efforts in environmental preservation. 

As you can see, no matter the project, the characteristics of ash wood provide a superior blend of functionality and beauty, creating pieces built to last while adding a touch of elegance.


Woodshop Direct’s Wood Solutions

Ash wood stands out due to its astounding strength, unique grain pattern, and striking appearance. The wood is also easy to work with, making it the preferred wood for DIY projects and beginners. 

Ash wood is specifically suited for furniture, flooring, tool handles, sports equipment, and any other project that requires a durable and reliable wood. 

Ultimately, with ash wood, every project becomes more than just a task—it becomes a statement. Woodshop Direct has an extensive range of ash wood in various sizes and grades, making it easy for everyone to access this fantastic wood type.