Can ash (or any wood) be TOO green

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Can ash (or any wood) be TOO green

Postby JermyB » Wed May 23, 2012 12:52 pm

I have been working with some 2 day old freshly felled ash trees. They are only about 12-15 years old and the ring spacing is about 4-6 per inch. Because of it's freshness I expected it to work very easily, but it was significantly tougher (when using an axe and drawknife). My only comparison is that of other ash wood that I have worked. This has been felled for longer and tends to be slower grown resulting is tighter ring spacing.

The only conclusions that I could muster myself were: -
1) because the annual ring spacing of the freshly felled ash was larger the amount of ring-pouros wood was less, therefore there was more "stronger" wood for me to work.
2) because the ash was so fresh the glue that holds the fibres together (sorry for my ignorance, I don't know the actual terminology) was still very tacky and was halting my axe/drawknife progress.

P.S. When on the lathe it seemed to make no difference, but I presumed this was because I was now slicing across the grain rather than with it.

Any thoughts...
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Re: Can ash (or any wood) be TOO green

Postby monkeeboy » Wed May 23, 2012 8:35 pm

In my experience ash is highly variable.

The ash I worked in Cumbria was very slow grown and good to work, responded well to cleaving and edge tools

Now I have used two different crops of ash from two sites in Manchester.
One is very fast grown and brittle, knotty but quite hard to work; doesn't cleave well and very hard when only slightly seasoned.
The other is regular growth rate, not brittle but extremely hard to work with edge tools; cleaves very well but is tough work to axe and drawknife.

I've also used some ash from near Manchester Airport which was good for cleaving but hard on edge tools.
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Re: Can ash (or any wood) be TOO green

Postby SeanHellman » Wed May 23, 2012 10:13 pm

I agree with monkeeboy, wood can be very variable. You are using fast grown ash which is strong and harder to work than slow grown stuff, also wood near the root plate is often tougher that stuff higher up the trunk. If you use slow grown wood you would think it was a different species
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Re: Can ash (or any wood) be TOO green

Postby ToneWood » Tue May 29, 2012 10:12 pm

We cut up a mature ash a few years ago that had just blown down in a storm (i.e. v. green). I was going to leave it a year before attempting to split it, as I do with the iron like beech we seem to get round here but my father-in-law said he already split all his up, easy -- he was right it was a dream to split. It also felt very light, we were easily able to carry big 3 foot sections over our shoulders - felt about half the weight of the beech I'd previously dealt with.

BTW came across some exceptionally tall, slender trees locally recently, I would think well over a hundred feet due to their unusual conditions (protected and forced up by a very tall steep bank excellent water & nutrient supply from a nearby sewage works). I thought they were ash, certainly some of the tall trees nearby were ash but I couldn't see the same early leaves that were showing on the nearby ashes, so perhaps not.
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Re: Can ash (or any wood) be TOO green

Postby Louis » Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:20 pm

My experience tells me in the case of ash that it's the growth rate. Fast grown young ash is incredibly tough! When working it tangentially, the sideaxe doesn't dig very deap and it feels dull. If you're lucky enough to get your hands on it, I suggest only taking the corners off your clefts with an axe and then use the drawknife for most of the shaping, counter intuitive but slightly faster and more cofortable ont the wrist and elbow.

For some woods, namely sycamore, if it mellows a little it seems to reduce any tearing out that it's prone to when super green!

Also, some tools don't work well on very green wood e.g. planes, spoke shaves, scrapers, panel saws, bowl turning hooks...

Conclusion; usually not, it depends on the craft, for example bowl turning.
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