White Ash - uneven color - oxidation? fading?

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Forum topic by Voo posted 02-24-2016 03:34 AM 663 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 853 days

02-24-2016 03:34 AM

Topic tags/keywords: ash color fading


I just picked up some new ash lumber which looked like a consistent creamy color from the outside, but when I started resawing to do some bent laminations I realized that the core of the board is quite a bit darker.

The top, bottom, and edges of the board are light so its not related directly to the grain like a heartwood/sapwood situation. Any idea why this is? I thought light caused ash to darken. Have the outside surfaces oxidized/bleached in some way?

The cut pieces have been left out for a couple days now, but I haven’t seen any change so far, not sure I should be expecting anything… thoughts??

9 replies so far

View Dabcan's profile


255 posts in 2700 days

#1 posted 02-24-2016 01:00 PM

All the ash I buy has light and dark parts, it’s a heart wood sap wood thing.

-- @craftcollectif ,,

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2399 days

#2 posted 02-24-2016 01:56 PM

Stupid question, but the wood has been allowed to dry sufficiently, correct? I’ve worked with fair amount of ash, and I have noticed that it can get some grey in there, like I’ve seen in maple. It’s also normal to have some random spots that looks much lighter than the rest. But, I’ve never gotten a board that was all light on the outside and dark on the inside, but I usually only buy 5/4, but apparently it can happen. How thick were your boards?

Edit : Here's a table I built using ash. You can see on the bottom shelf picture, the end has the discoloration I think you may be talking about. I wish the photo upload worked so I could show a better angle, but does it kind of look like this :

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Voo's profile


6 posts in 853 days

#3 posted 02-24-2016 06:11 PM

Hmm not a stupid question. I wondered the same thing because the light and dark areas don’t follow the grain pattern but I don’t know how this lumber was dried. Unfortunately it won’t let me upload a picture, but I’m looking at a 6/4 board. After I cut the plys off one side I did think they felt cool to the touch like they might be more moist, but I wasn’t sure if I was imagining that. I’ll get a photo up when I can.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2399 days

#4 posted 02-24-2016 07:03 PM

Wouldn’t hurt to get a moisture meter. I use the one from harbor freight, I think it was like $12 or something. You can see in the photo that I posted, the lighter coloring doesn’t really follow the grain in that, either. In case I wasn’t clear, the lighter area is on the shelf, in the front corner.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Drew's profile


350 posts in 3129 days

#5 posted 02-25-2016 12:04 AM

Light and dark does NOT necessarily follow the grain in ash.
The dark just seems to flow right out of the grain and go off on its own sometimes.


View Voo's profile


6 posts in 853 days

#6 posted 02-25-2016 12:39 AM

Thanks guys that’s good to know. I guess I just got quite evenly colored boards in the past. I didn’t realize that you could get such cheap moisture meters, probably with the HF trip. Here’s a picture of the board (darkened with mineral spirits to highlight the color difference. Translates to a stripe on the pieces I cut from another part of the board, but you can see the even toned surface which is what all 4 edge grain sides look like.

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2212 days

#7 posted 02-25-2016 12:50 AM

Hmm, makes me wonder if the outside changed colors when being kiln dried? Possibly due to steam?

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2658 posts in 2951 days

#8 posted 02-25-2016 12:55 AM

I have dried ash that has variable darkness to it. I know not all ash is like that but I kinda’ like it.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View Voo's profile


6 posts in 853 days

#9 posted 02-25-2016 01:37 AM

Yeah, now that I think of it the ash on my last project had some gray areas that I liked even though I think I bleached them out in the end. The step stool I’m making now has a lot of narrow pieces, so a stripe down each would be a bit much overall. Seems like whatever the cause I probably can’t change it short of bleaching. Time to start over…

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