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American Elm Ulmus americana

THE SOFTER AND MORE SYMPATHETIC ELM
American elm, which is often referred to as white elm, is neither as popular nor as widely available as red elm (U. rubra). However, because it is softer and the grain tends to be more consistent, it is a little easier to work. It is usually employed as a utility lumber rather than as a quality hardwood for furniture and cabinetmaking, though it is often used as a substitute for red elm as long as strength is not a consideration.

KEY CHARACTERISTICS

Type Temperate hardwood
Other names White elm, soft elm, swamp elm, water elm, gray elm
Alternatives Spanish chestnut (Castenea sativa), other elms
Sources North America
Color Pale brown, with a slight reddish hue
Texture Coarse and soft, but even
Grain Straight, with a little interlocking, but the contrast between latewood and earlywood is less than for red elm (U. rubra).
Hardness Soft
Weight Medium (35 lb./cu. ft.) (560 kg/cu. m)
Strength Moderate, but very good for bending
Seasoning and stability Moderate
Wastage Medium
Range of board widths Good
Range of board thicknesses Good
Durability Prone to insect attack and rot when used outside

VARIATIONS
Look out for mottled rays on quartersawn sides, and for burls.

SUSTAINABILITY
Not listed as endangered and not readily available as certified stock.

AVAILABILITY AND COST
Less readily available than red elm (U. rubra), but cheaper.



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Updated: 06/2017   copyright 2011 Rowecraft