Wood heavy, hard, strong, stiff, quite tough, not durable in contact with soil, straight grained and coarse in texture. The finished wood very much resembles bastard-sawed oak, except that the grain is much coarser and the wood more porous. It shrinks moderately, seasons with little injury, stands well and takes a good polish.
In buildings ash is used principally for inside finishing, stairs and cabinet work. It is also extensively used in the manufacture of furniture and the construction of wagons, farm implements, etc. It is about the cheapest of the hard woods, is easier to work than oak, and when thoroughly kiln-dried can be used for making solid doors.
While there are six varieties of ash in the United States, but two varieties are known in the lumber markets, viz., white ash and black ash. The wood of the former has about the same color as white oak, while the black ash is of a brown color. The difference in the grain is not recognizable.
"The trees of the several species of ash are rapid growers, of small to medium height, with stout trunks. They form no forests, but occur scattered in almost all our broad-leaved forests."
Oak. - "The oaks are medium to large-sized trees forming the predominant part of a large portion of our broad-leaved forests, so that these are generally 'oak forests,' though they always contain a considerable proportion of other kinds of trees. Three well-marked kinds, white, red and live oak, are distinguished and kept separate in the market. Of the two principal kinds white oak is the stronger, tougher, less porous and more durable. Red oak is usually of coarser texture, more porous, often brittle, less durable and even more troublesome in seasoning than white oak. The red oaks everywhere accompany the white oaks, and, like the latter, are usually represented by several species in any given locality. Live oak, once largely employed in ship building, possesses all the good qualities (except that of size) of white oak, even to a greater degree. It is one of the heaviest, hardest and most durable timbers in this country, but is now too expensive to use for building purposes."
The wood of white oak is light straw color; that of red oak is tinged with red, the difference in the color of the woods being increased by varnishing. Both the white and red oak shrink and crack badly in seasoning, and all finishing lumber should be thoroughly kiln-dried, after which it stands well.
Both kinds are extensively used for inside finishing, cabinet work and furniture.
When used for doors the wood should be sawn into veneers not exceeding 3/16 inch thick and glued to a pine core. The silver grain in oak is obtained by quarter-sawing. White oak is also largely used for finished flooring in dwellings, for which purpose it should be quarter-sawed and cut into strips not exceeding 2 ¼ inches on the face. It is also occasionally used in construction for posts and bolsters, or where hardness or stiffness are required, but its high price is limiting its use in construction every year.
For finishing purposes red oak answers practically as well as white oak, and at the present time is sold at the same price. The two varieties should be used separately, however, as when finished there is is a pronounced difference in their color.