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Blog entry by rhett posted 10-22-2013 01:29 PM 2261 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

At WIA this past weekend I had more than a few people ask me why I used ash instead of the traditional beech. It was implied I was using a lesser wood for plane building. While it may not get as polished as the old dogmatic standby, ash is proven harder than beech per the janka scale. It is also almost 2x more stable, according to this chart, on tangential dimensional change coefficients. The lower the number, the less the wood moves with +/- moisture.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

7 comments so far

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

554 posts in 4011 days

#1 posted 10-22-2013 01:37 PM

That’s too bad. You are doing fine work and have no need to justify/rationalize your creative and technical decisions.


View Don W's profile

Don W

19893 posts in 3580 days

#2 posted 10-22-2013 01:45 PM

Tradition is a hard nut to crack. I don’t knoiw were or why the beech tradition started, but I’m sure it had more to do with availability then anything else. Harder and more stable sure sounds like well thought out reasoning to me.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 2810 days

#3 posted 10-22-2013 04:28 PM

Good info. I was surprised that white and red oak moved more than Douglas Fir.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4347 days

#4 posted 10-23-2013 11:47 AM

Interesting info. I agree that availability would play a large role. There are other characteristics which may also have been important back in the old days. Beech is softer than Ash and therefore easier to work with hand tools. It is also a highly shock resistant wood, a good characteristic in a plane. I also have found that open grain woods are much more splintery that open grain woods and this might also be a consideration during production. Other factors such as drying times and weight (both under transport of raw materials and in use with the finished product) might also play a role. Personally I love ash. I’ve used it for several projects and it is strong and wonderful to work with and it looks great too. I am not trying to reinforce your critics here, just trying to rationalize why beech might have been the wood of choice in earlier times, but not necessarily today.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View rhett's profile


743 posts in 4680 days

#5 posted 10-23-2013 12:09 PM

Yes Mike, I believe every point you make to be accurate and feel in no way that you are being critical.

Dons comment about tradition sums it up.

Hope my posts don’t come off as snarky or antagonistic, I’m just a straight shooter who prefers fact to opinion.

Be Good

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View RPhillips's profile


1317 posts in 2849 days

#6 posted 10-23-2013 12:55 PM

Yeah, I’d say that Don and Stefang hit it right on the head. I like the fact that your breaking tradition and improving it by choosing to use better materials.

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3879 days

#7 posted 10-23-2013 02:32 PM

Interesting post. Thanks, Rhett.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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