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Blog entry by rhett posted 276 days ago 1062 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.


7 comments so far

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

382 posts in 1597 days

#1 posted 276 days ago

That’s too bad. You are doing fine work and have no need to justify/rationalize your creative and technical decisions.


View Don W's profile

Don W

14637 posts in 1166 days

#2 posted 276 days ago

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. -

View natenaaron's profile


364 posts in 396 days

#3 posted 276 days ago

Good info. I was surprised that white and red oak moved more than Douglas Fir.

View stefang's profile (online now)


12578 posts in 1933 days

#4 posted 276 days ago

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


696 posts in 2266 days

#5 posted 276 days ago

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


View RPhillips's profile


366 posts in 435 days

#6 posted 276 days ago

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 - Learning... one mistake at a time...

View helluvawreck's profile


15404 posts in 1465 days

#7 posted 275 days ago

Interesting post. Thanks, Rhett.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- 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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