This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Notwithstanding that the wood of the Hornbeam is remarkable for its close grain, even texture and consequent strength, it is seldom used for structural purposes. To a certain extent this is attributable to the tree not usually growing to a very large size, and also to the fact that when it does it is liable to become shaky. Evelyn says that it makes good firewood, and that it burns like a candle. In Prance and Switzerland it is preferred before other woods for charcoal, not only for forges and for cooking, but also for making gunpowder. At the great gunpowder factory at Berne, scarcely any other wood is used. Hornbeam has of late been much more largely used in this country than formerly, it having been found to be peculiarly adapted for making lasts used by bootmakers Hearing some time since that this wood was being sent to this country in considerable quantities from France enquiry led to the discovery that it was being used almost exclusively for the above purpose, and that it was imported in sacks, each containing a number of small blocks, in shape of the rough outline of a last We were at the time accorded the privilege of inspecting some steam works that had recently been erected at Ealing by Messrs. Peal for converting this wood into lasts.
Very large quantities of the wood were consumed in this factory, a pair of lasts being turned out ready for finishing in a very few minutes. The advantage over other woods, and even over Beech, which has hitherto been considered the best wood for last making, is that, after the withdrawal of nails, the holes so made close up, which is not the case with most other woods. - Gardener's Chronicle.