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Fitzpatrick & Weller, Inc.

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Fitzpatrick & Weller
Fitzpatrick & Weller

Fitzpatrick & Weller
12 Mill Street
P.O.Box 490
Ellicottville, New York 14731
Phone 716-699-2393
Fax 716-699-2893
websales@fitzweller.com

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Jul 21

Written by: Fitzweller Administrator
7/21/2010 8:26 AM 

White Ash
Family Name: Fraxinus americana and related
species Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Fraxinus nigra
and Fraxinus velutina and Fraxinus latifolia of
the Family Oleaceae
Common Names: White ash, American ash
Height/Weight: White ash trees range in height
from 50 to 80 feet. Average weight is 42 pounds
per cubic foot, with a specific gravity of 0.66.
Properties: White ash is a strong and stiff wood,
with good shock resistance and excellent bending
qualities. The timber dries fairly quickly with
minimal degrade and small movement in service.
The wood works well with both power and hand
tools. Pre-boring recommended with harder
species of ash, such as Fraxinus americana and
Fraxinus pennsylvanica. Ash glues well and easily
takes a stain.

The United States is home to several species of ash, including the commercially viable Fraxinus americana (white ash), Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash), Fraxinus nigra (brown and black ash) and Fraxinus latifola and Fraxinus velutina (Oregon ash). Unfortunately, the United States is also home to the Emerald ash borer (EAB), a tiny green beetle native to Asia, that has proven to be a big threat to trees.

White ash is considered the premiere species of North American ashes, prized for being hard, strong, high in shock resistance with excellent bending qualities, but also easily worked. Louisville Slugger bats, manufactured by Hillerich & Bradsby Co. in Louisville, KY, are made of white ash and maple. The Hillerich & Bradsby Web site states, “Pound per pound, ash is the strongest timber available. Ash has a flexibility that isn’t found in other timbers like maple. It tends to flex rather than break, which gives a strong ‘sweet spot’ in terms of breakage. Ash is lighter than maple, giving a wider range of large barrel models.”

Brian Boltz, general manager of Larimer and Norton, the timber division of Hillerich & Bradsby in Warren, PA, said Louisville Slugger buys its ash from two areas of the country. “After extensive research we found that the best sources of ash lumber for the application of baseball bats offering strength, flexibility and the desired weight came from a county in northern Pennsylvania, and Cattaraugus and Chatauqua counties in New York.”

However, he said, “The EAB was found in Cattaraugus Co. in July 2009 and a quarantine was placed on all wood there. While the EAB hasn’t been detected in Chataqua Co., officials quarantined the area as well as a precautionary move.”

According to the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHISH), quarantines affect any industry, business or individual that deals with or handles hardwood firewood, ash wood or ash nursery stock, including growers, sawmills, wood haulers and wood brokers. Boltz said trees can be brought to the mills beginning Oct. 1 when the EAB is dormant, but they must be sawn and all waste product, such as bark, has to be destroyed by March 31. “In the past we sold the bark, but under the quarantine we must burn it ourselves.”

Supplies of white ash have remained constant, despite the new regulations, Boltz said. He is cautiously optimistic about the situation, all things considered. “Back in 2005 things looked extremely grave for white ash trees, but there are aggressive programs in fighting the EAB, plus the fact that the bug is limited in how far it travels.” Boltz said another threat to white ash supplies is forest owners who panic and cut all their supplies. “That could do as much damage in wiping out white as the EAB.”

Gingrich Woodcraft president and general manager Leon Gingrich said he has not had any problems getting good supplies of white ash, but added that he does buy certified material from his U.S. supplier. The Devlin, ON-based company uses white ash in a variety of products, including mouldings and cabinet doors. “It machines very nicely and takes a finish very well. I would compare it to red oak in terms of finishing properties. While it is a hard wood, it isn’t as difficult to work as hickory,” said Gingrich.

Other uses include furniture, church pews, flooring and sporting goods including baseball bats, pool cues, tennis racquets, hockey sticks and oars. White ash is also popular for tool and implement handles. Ash is a favorite species for making bent wood parts for chairs, boats and umbrellas.

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