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American Beech Fagus grandifolis

UTILITY TIMBER ONCE POPULAR FOR CHAIRS
Beech is used extensively in mass-produced furniture because it is easy to work, consistent and inexpensive. It is not, however, especially decorative, so is often finished with paint or stain, both of which it takes very well. Medullary rays, which appear as tiny dark flecks in quarter-cut and slab-cut boards, are a distinguishing feature.

KEY CHARACTERISTICS

Type Temperate hardwood
Alternatives Yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), poplar (Populus species)
Sources North America Color Reddish brown
Texture Even and generally fine, but coarser than European beech
Grain Straight and defect-free
Hardness Hard
Weight Medium to heavy (46 lb./cu. ft.) (740 kg/cu. m)
Strength Very strong, and good for steam bending
Seasoning and stability Tends to move more than most temperate hardwoods, both from green and in the workshop, and it needs to be seasoned well. Tends not to be used for wide panels, except as a veneer. Make sure it is dry before use.
Wastage Low, as there is little sapwood and few defects.
Range of board widths Good
Range of board thicknesses Good, with thick stock available
Durability Needs preservatives for external use. Prone to insect attack and not durable to decay, but can be preserved.

VARIATIONS
Steamed beech tends to be darker and redder.

SUSTAINABILITY
Certified supplies are available, though there is no great threat to beech.

AVAILABILITY AND COST

Easy to buy, and one of the cheapest temperate hardwoods, at nearly half the cost of oak or cherry.




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Updated: 08/2017   copyright 2011 Rowecraft