can you use elm for furniture?

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Forum topic by shelly_b posted 01-14-2013 06:48 AM 7849 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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850 posts in 2315 days

01-14-2013 06:48 AM

obviously you can use anything you want, but i have never heard of elm being used for furniture or in woodworking. i was stocking the fire and came across some beautiful wood. when i asked my boyfriend what kind it was he said elm…i asked why people don’t use it in woodworking and he and his friend said it was too hard and stringy. does anyone know if it can be used? or if it is to much of a PITA?

8 replies so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30050 posts in 2536 days

#1 posted 01-14-2013 10:09 AM

Elm isn’t used much for a few reasons. First, since Dutch Elm disease came through many years ago there are areas of the country that it simply no longer exists. In Canada it is illegal to transport from one province to another to stop the spread of the disease.

Second, it is hard to dry and keep straight. Because of the nature of the grain it twists and warps easily.

With that being said, i cut a lot of it and slab it to build with. I love the grain. I cut it thick and cut it down more when it’s dry.

Happy building!

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 2330 days

#2 posted 01-14-2013 10:18 AM

I’m only a novice at woodworking, but I know from splitting a very large elm for wood in late 60’s, like your friend said, it, like “Sweet Gum”, has the grain running in many directions and is tough. Thus, your pretty patterns. There is a mill and kiln in north Alabama that uses Elm exclusively for 2 X 2 and 3 X 3 pieces to serve the furniture industry for short legs on the less expensive furniture. I’m interested in other’s answers to this thread.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View knotscott's profile


8146 posts in 3573 days

#3 posted 01-14-2013 10:27 AM

Yes. Elm is more prone to movement than some woods, but it can be tamed. It’s got gorgeous grain. If you let it acclimate well, and make the initial cuts slightly oversized, then let it acclimate another day or two before cutting to final size, the movement is manageable.

This is elm

and these are elm (matched pair)

Both pieces have held nicely for a few years now.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 2330 days

#4 posted 01-14-2013 10:37 AM

Knotscott, Those are absolutely beautiful! Great workmanship and design, finish is stunning,

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2315 days

#5 posted 01-14-2013 10:45 AM

Wow, those are beautiful! The stuff in the wood pile had been sitting for a few years but it had like 4 different colors in it from reds to purples and browns. I’m not sure if it’s all like that or if it is just from aging…when I get my band saw I will def try milling some. We still have quite a few elms around. I know the dying ones are great for morel mushrooms but I never thought of using it for furniture!

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3435 days

#6 posted 01-14-2013 11:52 AM

Here’s the most beautiful log I’ve ever cut. It was the ugliest log I’ve ever seen and ever since, I’ve searched long and hard to find all the ugly logs I could find.

Click for details

I sold several slabs from this log on E-Bay before I found out how rare wood this beautiful is, since then I’ve waited to build something from it that would justify using this beautiful wood. I’m going to build a slab dining table and 6 low back chairs with it this year. The entire log has beautiful burl grain.

Give elm a try I’m sure you will be pleased with anything you make from it.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2315 days

#7 posted 01-14-2013 12:01 PM

wow, that is really pretty wood!! what kind is it? and your right, very ugly log!! lol

View WDHLT15's profile


1792 posts in 2674 days

#8 posted 01-15-2013 03:34 AM

You see elm in Furniture Store “Oak” furniture. If you quartersaw it, it will be more stable and straighter. I love the look of elm.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

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