Hardwood 101

Red Oak
Red oak is one of three main varieties of oak. The sapwood is a light reddish brown color while the heartwood varies from light brown to dark brown. Red oak is dense with long straight grains that make it a common choice for many wood workers. It also has good wood working properties, working well with both hand tools and machines.

It glues well and holds a nail, however red oak has a tendency to split when nailed without pre-drilling.

Maple
In North America maple grows to heights of 110 feet or more and can have a diameter of 2.5 feet.

Most maple have sapwood that is light cream color with rusty brown tinges running through it. The heartwood is a light reddish brown but can also be darker.

Maple tends to be a hardFree Articles, dense type of wood that machines well and is easy to work with using hand tools. Maple is quite resistant to shock and this makes it good for handles and sporting goods. Maple takes glue well and also accepts stains and other finishes without blotching.

Ash
The sapwood of ash is often a light brown color but can vary to gray. Ash is usually straight grained with high shock resistance. This is one of the reasons that ash is used for tool handles and baseball bats.

Ash has a good workability and is able to hold a screw or nail quite well. Ash also takes glue well.

Ash is easy to work with and takes a finish well.

Mahogany
Mahogany can reach the towering heights of 175 feet or more and have a butressed trunk several feet in diameter.

Mahogany has a light purple or pink heartwood which darkens after being exposed to the air. In contrast the sapwood is an off-white to yellow color. Mahogany has a medium to course texture.

Mahogany is somewhat tricky to work with. Sharp tools are a must to prevent the grain from being torn. Mahogany is quite easy to get a good surface for finishing and takes glue well.

Butternut
Butternut (Juglans cinerea) can be found in the south east United States and into southern Ontario and Quebec. Butternut can normally be found along clearings and the edge of forests.

The tree itself grows quite tall sometimes reaching one hundred feet tall and 3 feet in diameter.

In general butternut has a white or light brown sapwood with brown or chestnut heartwood.

Butternut is easy to work with and takes a finish well.

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