A favorite of western settlers for their wheel hubs and rims, this shock-resistant species has a wildly twisting and interlocking grain pattern. Elm resists splitting better than any other common domestic species, which makes it a poor choice for firewood. However, elm is an excellent choice when another wood member is being pounded into it, such as when back spindles are pounded into a Windsor chair seat made from elm (a very popular choice for this application).
Dutch elm disease, a fungus carried by bark-boring beetles accidentally introduced from Europe, has ravaged nearly the entire range of elms in the United States. Supplies of elm lumber and veneer are still widely available, but this disease will undoubtedly make elm much more scarce in the future.
The reddish-tan color of elm makes it an attractive choice for furniture, accessories, and trim. Carvers and turners find it to be relatively friendly, but chiseling often results in uncontrolled splintering. Elm poses no special problems for straight-line cuts made with power tools. When storing elm, be sure to protect your wood from humidity and moisture because it is highly susceptible to distortion. Like most species with a coarse, open-grained texture, elm glues, stains, and finishes exceptionally well.
Wood grain images provided by HobbitHouseInc.com