The most common species of ash used for woodworking is generally referred to as white ash, a species that has assumed a legendary role in major league baseball parks. When a batter takes his swings at home plate, he is usually relying on a bat made from white ash. It's a superior choice for bats because of long fibers, which bend a little upon impact with the ball. These same long fibers make ash an excellent choice for woodworkers who are planning projects that will involve bending and laminating.
Although quite hard and strong, ash offers excellent working properties in the shop. When using properly sharpened cutting tools, ash is rather easy to plane, saw, drill, and chisel. However, its tendency to splinter when dull tools are being used is less forgiving than with many species. Ash also offers outstanding staining and finishing qualities. The wood is comparable to oak in many respects, particularly appearance. The open grain texture shared by both species often fools the casual observer. Furthermore, oak and ash have almost identical hardness ratings.
An excellent choice for cabinets and fine furniture, ash is one of the most available domestic woods and rarely warps or twists. Because it has low resistance to decay, it should be used only for indoor applications . . . unless your surname is Ruth.
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