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Ash wood - suitability for outdoor projects (and what if it has dieback?)

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Krome10

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Hi all

Recently had around 20 roadside ash trees taken down due to dieback, or perhaps just potential dieback with some. I've been reading about uses for the wood, and with a wood stove in the house (with possibly another one or two to come), firewood is an obvious choice. But we will also be doing a lot of work in the garden - fencing, shelters, benches, etc. So I'm wondering....:

1. Is ash generally any good for fencing, shelters, benches, etc.? Or are there better woods for that kind of thing?

2. Does the “rot” continue to have an affect after felling? IE – will the wood continue to deteriorate on account of the dieback even once cut down?

3. If it's not good for outdoor projects, does anyone know if it will burn as well as undiseased ash?

Any advice most welcomed

Many thanks
 

Sgian Dubh

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As Phil said, ash is not generally a good choice for uses where it's exposed to weather and especially in circumstances where it's in ground contact: it's classified as non-durable so likely to rot within five years. Having said that, one external use it was put to, quite famously I suppose, was as constituent parts of Morris 1000 woodies.

I don't think there are ongoing issues with wood gathered from ash trees felled because of dieback, but it's possible there are issues I'm not aware of. So, as far as I know the stuff can be boarded up, seasoned and used, or simply chopped into logs and burned after drying.

There are quite a number of alternative materials that can be used satisfactorily outdoors, e.g., oak, sapele, iroko, western red cedar, and tanalised wood, etc, all depending on the nature of the project. Slainte.
 

Fitzroy

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Case in point, Morris woodies rot is common and legendary.
 

Woody2Shoes

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1 - For fencing, sweet chestnut is the king (and when coppiced, most eco-friendly). You don't say what part of the country you're in, but chestnut grows best in southern England.
2 - Rot requires moisture to function. Once the timber starts to dry, the rot will become inactive/die. Ash starts off with a fairly low moisture content, and once out of the rain (and off the soil) should be fine.
3 - Ash will make excellent firewood - whether or not it's been affected by dieback. Obviously, badly rotten wood has less calorific value as it burns (the sugars and lignin in wood are energy-dense hydrocarbons, which is why insects and fungi like to eat them!).

You haven't mentioned it, but ash (diseased or not) makes excellent timber for indoor joinery!
 

johnnyb

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if I had lots of it I would dip it in preserver or even pay to have it treated( after sawing and drying) and make whatever you want. it would still last longer than b and q green wood!
 

shed9

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I'd plank it, store / air dry it over the coming years and sell it at a high premium due to a lack of supply within that future market.
 

Woody2Shoes

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if I had lots of it I would dip it in preserver or even pay to have it treated( after sawing and drying) and make whatever you want. it would still last longer than b and q green wood!
I would not do this in a month of Sundays! :p
 

johnnyb

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why not?he's asked how hes gonna use his cheap(to him) wood to make exterior stuff with. I'm not saying don't use it for inside stuff as a more suitable use.
has anybody ever had Ash pressure treated?
 

akirk

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The man who made things out of trees is a fascinating book on one person's journey to see all the things he can make from one tree - and Ash is the chosen tree - well worth reading...
 

Krome10

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Thanks for all the great and helpful replies.

On the sum of it, methinks it will all end up in the wood stoves. I do have a few outdoor projects in mind. Not least of all wood shelters to house the firewood! So I wanted to check whether ash was suitable before sawing up the straight useable pieces. As it's not, so be it... I can get other wood for that. In fact, I have a larch to come down and by all accounts larch and cedar (which I'd have to buy) are good choices.

I like the idea of sweet chestnut too - for the wood and the nuts - and will certainly look into planting some when time allows and if suitable for my area.
I've updated my location (South West Wales / Carmarthenshire).

I think this might have been touched on before a month or two ago, but seeing as different people are contributing to this thread.... For long term storage of firewood, is it better to keep the ash in the round and in long lengths? I was planning to process 2-3 years worth, and keep the rest in a forestry commission type set up. Well, not quite on that scale :) But in pieces of around 4 foot length and stacked and covered. I thought this might slow the seasoning down for when the time came 5-10 years down the line. I'll also be storing it 200 odd metres from the house, so keeping it in larger pieces will make transporting it up to the house easier when the time comes. Any downsides to keep it in 4 foot rounds for several years?

Cheers
 

Krome10

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The man who made things out of trees is a fascinating book on one person's journey to see all the things he can make from one tree - and Ash is the chosen tree - well worth reading...

Looks very interesting. And makes the plight of ash trees all the more sadder :(
 

Awac

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Thanks for all the great and helpful replies.

On the sum of it, methinks it will all end up in the wood stoves. I do have a few outdoor projects in mind. Not least of all wood shelters to house the firewood! So I wanted to check whether ash was suitable before sawing up the straight useable pieces. As it's not, so be it... I can get other wood for that. In fact, I have a larch to come down and by all accounts larch and cedar (which I'd have to buy) are good choices.

I like the idea of sweet chestnut too - for the wood and the nuts - and will certainly look into planting some when time allows and if suitable for my area.
I've updated my location (South West Wales / Carmarthenshire).

I think this might have been touched on before a month or two ago, but seeing as different people are contributing to this thread.... For long term storage of firewood, is it better to keep the ash in the round and in long lengths? I was planning to process 2-3 years worth, and keep the rest in a forestry commission type set up. Well, not quite on that scale :) But in pieces of around 4 foot length and stacked and covered. I thought this might slow the seasoning down for when the time came 5-10 years down the line. I'll also be storing it 200 odd metres from the house, so keeping it in larger pieces will make transporting it up to the house easier when the time comes. Any downsides to keep it in 4 foot rounds for several years?

Cheers
If you have a wood burner, this is quite a good introduction to the world of wood burning. Covers all aspects of storage, drying, calorific values etc.Fun read as well.

Not to be confused with Norwegian Wood a 1987 novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami.The novel is a nostalgic story of loss and burgeoning sexuality o_O

If you want to protect wood, I keep banging on about this stuff, I find it wonderful (and cheap!).
 

Yojevol

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A problem with ash dead or dying from ash die back is that it becomes brittle. This means tree surgeons cannot fell them, ie, dismember them, in the normal way because it's dangerous to climb them. The hire of a cherry picker can double the cost of taking one down.
Lots of healthy ashes are now being felled by local authorities where they may become a danger to the public, eg, roadsides and parks.
I wouldn't think brittle ash will be good for anything other than burning.
Morris 1000 estates used ash just as a traditional continuation of farm wagon construction where it was valued for its toughness. However it is not very durable hence the need for ash groves to ensure a constant supply.
Brian
 

IanA

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The man who made things out of trees is a fascinating book on one person's journey to see all the things he can make from one tree - and Ash is the chosen tree - well worth reading...
Hello I've been using ash wood for a long time and feel its one of the most perfect woods for furniture making. Its harder than oak, immensely strong, a beautiful close grain, crisp to work with and takes a very good polish. Apparently it also makes very good firewood but using it for the fire is such a waste. The book recommended by aKirk is a super book and real eye opener for those wondering what ash wood might be used for. Because of its structural strength and elasticity its been used for cart wheel rims for millennia. In the middle ages when yew was the prime wood for bow making very few bowmen had the physical strength to use such bows to full effect. Consequently the majority of bowmen used ash bows but they all used arrows made from ash. In America baseball bats have to be made from ash because it doesn't snap and finally I understand that Great Paul, the 16+ ton bell of St Pauls Cathedal is held up by ash beams. I have to say I know nothing of the pathology of ash die back and an associated brittleness mentioned by Brian. Anyway, I've filled in time during lockdown time by making a bedroom suite from a locally felled ash tree. Its almost finished and would say it looks good enough to me at least! A photo of the small side table, along with one leg of the bed, is attached. Wych elm has been used for all the drawer fronts in the suite as a contrast. Cheers IanA
 

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dickm

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Offer the timber to Morgan cars! Think they still use ash for the main frames of their sports cars.
 

topchippyles

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Hello I've been using ash wood for a long time and feel its one of the most perfect woods for furniture making. Its harder than oak, immensely strong, a beautiful close grain, crisp to work with and takes a very good polish. Apparently it also makes very good firewood but using it for the fire is such a waste. The book recommended by aKirk is a super book and real eye opener for those wondering what ash wood might be used for. Because of its structural strength and elasticity its been used for cart wheel rims for millennia. In the middle ages when yew was the prime wood for bow making very few bowmen had the physical strength to use such bows to full effect. Consequently the majority of bowmen used ash bows but they all used arrows made from ash. In America baseball bats have to be made from ash because it doesn't snap and finally I understand that Great Paul, the 16+ ton bell of St Pauls Cathedal is held up by ash beams. I have to say I know nothing of the pathology of ash die back and an associated brittleness mentioned by Brian. Anyway, I've filled in time during lockdown time by making a bedroom suite from a locally felled ash tree. Its almost finished and would say it looks good enough to me at least! A photo of the small side table, along with one leg of the bed, is attached. Wych elm has been used for all the drawer fronts in the suite as a contrast. Cheers IanA
I think its a little different when the the guy has just cut down 20 big trees and then timber would need milling and seasoning.
 

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