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Blog entry by rhett posted 10-22-2013 01:29 PM 1238 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.

-- It's only wood.



7 comments so far

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

422 posts in 1742 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.

Greg

View Don W's profile

Don W

15519 posts in 1312 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.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View natenaaron's profile

natenaaron

377 posts in 542 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

stefang

13623 posts in 2079 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

rhett

699 posts in 2412 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
Rhett

-- It's only wood.

View RPhillips's profile

RPhillips

759 posts in 581 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

helluvawreck

16033 posts in 1611 days


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

Interesting post. Thanks, Rhett.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

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