This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
This is a Chilian tree, affording a timber which is largely used on the S. Pacific coast of America, and an important article of commerce. It gives spars 80-90 ft. long, and 800-1500 boards. Its grain is so straight and even that shingles split from it appear to have been planed.
The so-called apple-tree of Queensland yields planks 20-30 in. in diameter, the wood being very strong and durable, and much used by wheelwrights and for ships' timbers.
The common ash is indigenous to Europe and N. Asia, and found throughout Great Britain. The young wood is more valuable than the old; it is durable in the dry, but soon rots by exposure to damp or alternate wetting, and is very subject to worm when felled in full sap. It is difficult to work and too flexible for building, but valuable in machinery, wheel-carriages,' blocks, and handles of tools. The weight is 34-52 lb. a cub. ft.; cohesive force, 6300-17,000 lb.; strength, 119; stiffness, 89; toughness, 160. The colour of the wood is brownish-white, with longitudinal yellow streaks; the annual layers' are separated by a ring full of pores. The most striking characteristic possessed by ash is that it has apparently no sapwood at all - that is to say, no difference between the rings can be detected until the tree is very old, when the heart becomes black. The wood is remarkably tough, elastic, flexible, and easily worked. It is economical to convert, in consequence of the absence of sap. Very great advantage is found in reducing ash logs soon after they are felled into plank or board for seasoning, since, if left for only a short time in the round state, deep shakes open from the surface, which involve a very heavy loss when brought on later for conversion.
Canadian and American ash, of a reddish-white colour, is imported to this country chiefly for making oars. These varieties have the same characteristics as English ash, but are darker in colour. The Canadian variety is the better of the two.
This tree, the oomhlebe of the African natives, gives a very tough wood, used for wheel-spokes, shafts, waggon-rails, spears, and turnery, weighing 5G lb. a cub. ft.
The common beech inhabits most temperate parts of Europe, from Norway to the Mediterranean, and is plentiful in S. Russia. It is most abundant in the S. and Midland counties of England, growing on chalky soils to 100 ft. high and 4-G ft. diam. Wood grown in damp valleys becomes brittle on drying; it is very liable to destruction by worms, decays in damp situations, less in a dry state, but least of all when constantly under water. It is thus most useful for piles, and for knees and planking of ships. Its uniform texture and hardness make it very valuable for tools and common furniture. It is also used for carriage-panels and wooden tramways. Its weight is 43-53 lb. a cub. ft.; cohesive force, 6070-17,000 lb.; strength, 103; stiffness, 77; toughness, 138.