Ash trees are one of the most common trees found in the northern hemisphere, with around 60 different species existing throughout Europe, Asia and the North American continent. The parent name of all ash is 'Fraxinus', with all subsequent variations being named 'Fraxinus …....' for example the American, or 'White', Ash is named 'Fraxinus americana', but there are also Fraxinus caroliniana, nigra, profunda and dubis, as well as 16 others, and that is just those found in North America.
Ash trees are, in general, deciduous trees, losing their leaves and growing new ones seasonally, and whilst there are a few variations such as Fraxinus uhdei (the Shamel Ash) which are evergreen, American Ash is decidedly deciduous. If you have read our previous post, which details the differences between hard and soft wood, you may assume that the American Ash tree is a hardwood tree, and you would be right to do so.
Like most hardwood trees American Ash has a straight, close grain, and whilst it's other name, White Ash, might suggest otherwise, it actually has a light brown colour that on occasion can become quite dark; earning it the name Olive Ash due to its visual similarities to the wood of Olive Trees. It should also be noted that White Ash is also visually similar to Fraxinus pennsylvanica (Green Ash); in fact one of the only features that can help differentiate the two in nature is that the undersides of the White Ash's leaves are lighter than the overside, whilst the Green Ash's are more or less the same colour on both surfaces.
American Ash is often compared to Oak in regards to its coarse texture, which is an apt comparison to strike between the two, as the two are also generally priced at around the same amount, give or take depending on geographic location. This is apparent on the Woodshop Direct site, where currently the price difference between the White Ash and the White Oak is a little under £8 per ft³.
One of American Ash's greatest assets is its impressive workability with both hand and machine tools; not to mention the striking, aesthetically pleasing finishes that it is capable of effortlessly adopting. Whilst not the heaviest timber available, American Ash does possess exemplary strength for a wood of its weight, in addition to a remarkable resistance to shocks and impacts; which have led to this wood being used to create boxes, crates, flooring, bats and many other objects that we come into contact with on a day to day basis.