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Working with Elm. Advice requested.

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Forum topic by woodrookieII posted 09-11-2014 06:11 PM 1507 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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woodrookieII

245 posts in 2131 days


09-11-2014 06:11 PM

Greetings Jocks,

I’m thinking of making a small table from elm. But I don’t know that much about elm. Perhaps you all can provide some advice.

Which elm to use? (ie. red vs gray vs ???)

Is elm stable enough? (prone to warping?)

Does it take a stain well?

Which has the more pronounced grain?

Any advice is welcome.

.......rookieII


14 replies so far

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 1828 days


#1 posted 09-11-2014 08:14 PM

How will the answers influence any decision?

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View JADobson's profile

JADobson

682 posts in 1578 days


#2 posted 09-11-2014 08:28 PM

Ignore Clint, he doesn’t like anyone asking questions. I’ve never worked elm but I’ve heard that it likes to cup and warps fairly easily. That said if you search for elm projects here there are some stunners.
See: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/tag/elm

-- James

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knotscott

7224 posts in 2843 days


#3 posted 09-11-2014 10:35 PM

I’ve used red elm, but never grey, so can’t comment about the latter. Red elm has incredibly beautiful grain IMHO, but it is prone to movement, and fuzzing even with sharp cutters. I found it’s more stable if you let it acclimate for a few days in your shop, then oversize the initial dimensions and let it acclimate another day or so before going to final dimensions. It’s a very stalky wood, and the fuzz at the end of cuts can be much stiffer and sharper than with most woods….enough so that I actually sliced my fingers try to brush the fuzz off with my hand.

Post some pics when you get rolling….

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

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 1828 days


#4 posted 09-12-2014 01:36 AM

Take the advice of someone who’s never seen it. Nyuk nyuk

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Yonak's profile

Yonak

979 posts in 988 days


#5 posted 09-12-2014 04:39 AM

It’s been quite awhile but I’ve used grey elm on a mantle clock project. If it’s dry the wood is stable but is prone to severe movement while drying so a lot of weight is required when drying. The wood has excellent chatoyance and a very interesting grain. I don’t remember how easy it is to work but I seem to remember it’s fairly dense. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

View palaswood's profile

palaswood

940 posts in 1218 days


#6 posted 09-12-2014 05:37 AM

sweet, i love chatoyance. A fellow LJ sent me some elm (gray) and its just been sitting. Now im stoked to do something with it.
What are wanting to use it for?

-- Joseph, Irvine CA, @palas_woodcraft on Instagram

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Normunds

3 posts in 823 days


#7 posted 09-12-2014 06:51 AM

In my country (live in Europe) elm is quite precious wood. Do not know difference between red, gray elm. We use… just ordinary elm, Ulmus glabra in Latin. Grain is really beautiful and I love to work with it… Looking at my stock of elm wood all boards are tremendously warped. It takes some planning and jointing/planing to get board in usable shape. But otherwise after sealing project with poly wood movement is not a problem.

In picture coved side panels of box are from elm. Rims – ash, inserts – acacia. There is sapele as well – top panel with inlay, but it is hidden on picture.

PS. I never stain elm! It is just too good for staining :)

View WDHLT15's profile

WDHLT15

1572 posts in 1943 days


#8 posted 09-12-2014 11:19 AM

What is gray elm?

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

View Yonak's profile

Yonak

979 posts in 988 days


#9 posted 09-12-2014 02:13 PM


What is gray elm?

- WDHLT15

It was sold to me as “grey” elm, not “gray” elm, in western Pennsylvania, 15 years ago. (Interestingly, I distinctly remember the sawyer pronouncing it like “ellem” and I attributed that pronunciation to a regional variance. There is a traditional song named, “Deep Elem Blues” / or “Deep Elm Blues” and I hadn’t recognized the connection to the tree until I heard the sawyer’s pronunciation.) Looking it up on the internet, it says it’s also known as American elm, white elm and soft elm, as it’s softer than red elm.

After looking at this site : https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/FNR/FNR-283-W.pdf : I wonder if what I have is really red elm as grey elm was devastated by Dutch Elm disease and, while red elm was affected by another disease, yet to a lesser extent that grey elm, there are stands still around. ..That, in addition to the working characteristics that I remember. Again, it’s been awhile.

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WDHLT15

1572 posts in 1943 days


#10 posted 09-13-2014 12:46 AM

I have never heard of american elm referred to as grey or gray elm, but then again, common names can be localized for sure.

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

View woodrookieII's profile

woodrookieII

245 posts in 2131 days


#11 posted 09-15-2014 01:02 AM

Wow such great replies! (even Clint!)

“chatoyance”........sweet word. Shimmer, moire’, I like that.

“grey” vs “gray”.....see…I am a rookie.

Movement is what I am concerned about on a 21×24 table top. Perhaps if I used a couple of braces/stabilizers that would not be seen behind the aprons/skirts.

I’ll search around for some red elm and see how it goes.

Thanks everyone.

....rookieII

View crank49's profile

crank49

3981 posts in 2438 days


#12 posted 09-15-2014 04:33 AM

My dad always called it ellem.
He lived in Tennessee all his life.
So maybe that pronunciation was a regional thing here, too.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View bobasaurus's profile

bobasaurus

2675 posts in 2651 days


#13 posted 09-15-2014 06:29 AM

I’ve found the grain of elm (I think it’s Chinese elm that I’ve been using) to be super interlocked, making it near impossible to hand plane smoothly. The sapwood is also super soft, so watch out for that. It did sand and finish up well.

-- Allen, Colorado

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mramseyISU

419 posts in 1013 days


#14 posted 09-15-2014 02:38 PM

My grandpa always called it piss ellum. I think that’s more of a southern way to pronounce it (he grew up in Arkansas).

-- Trust me I'm an engineer.

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