For decades craftsmen have considered using North American white ash as a substitute for Appalachian red oak. But why?
In general ash (Fraxinus Americana) and red oak (Quercus rubra) are excellent hardwoods to use for many products. Moulding manufacturers, cabinet makers, and even door and window manufacturers could use either to produce their products.
Red oak is a more traditional fiber to use for products such as those listed above, however, ash has become a popular substitute since red oak was traditionally a slightly more expensive species.
When comparing ash and red oak many people find that the grain patterns are similar. This allows manufactures who are staining their end products to more easily substitute the species. If the color of ash stained is too light they can try darkening the stain to achieve a color more resembling red oak. Craftsmen will also notice that ash and red oak have similar working properties when it comes to machining, gluing, and fastening.
When ash is not a good substitute for red oak is when manufacturers are looking for more of a natural finish and are counting on any one of the different shades of red oak that have been categorized in ranges from “wheat” to a “light honey” to be a distinctive feature of their product.
The pricing for ash and red oak vary frequently. Those familiar with the hardwood lumber industry would tell you that hardwood lumber pricing is more like a commodities trading environment versus a consumer good. Prices are influenced greatly by supply and demand and changes in the market happen frequently and often.
If you are considering ash, red oak or any other species of hardwood lumber and would like to discuss options and alternatives give us a call. We would welcome the chance to help you.
American Lumber Company