Is Ash Good for Carving? What You Need to Know!

is ash good for carving

Ash is a straight grain hardwood with light to medium brown in color. Because of being a hardwood with exceptional qualities, Ash wood is commonly used for furniture making, cabinetry, flooring, and many other woodworking projects. I have made lots of woodworks using Ash wood. but when it comes to the wood carving field, I was always wondered, Is Ash good for carving?

Here’s what I found out in investigating:

Ash is good for carving. Ash is a hard and dense wood with great strength that can use to make beautiful and durable carvings. But the carving tools should be well sharpened because carving Ash wood is difficult because of its high hardness and density. Carving Ash wood needs lots of patience and practice.

But there’s a lot to know about Ash wood carving.

So, in this article, we’ll explore, Is Ash good for carving, how hard Ash wood to carve, properties of Ash wood that are important in wood carving, and describe carving Ash wood using chainsaw or hand tools as well.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about carving with Ash wood with pros and cons.

Just keep reading!

Is Ash Difficult to Carve?

Carving Ash wood is difficult for a beginner in woodcarving with limited tools. To make Ash wood carving easy, users need to be well experienced with wood carving and tools should be well sharpened.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, Ash wood has a Janka hardness rating of 1,320 lbf (5,872 N) which is greater than many other popular wood types.

For example,

  • Basswood which is known as the best wood for carving has a hardness of 410 lbf (1,824 N).
  • Butternut has a Janka hardness rating of 490 lbf (2,180 N)
  • Cherry has a Janka hardness rating of 950 lbf (4,226 N)

As you can see the hardness of Ash wood is no way near to the hardness of popular wood types such as Basswood, butternut, and cherry which are some of the best woods for carving. This is because of having the harder and denser wood structure of Ash wood.

According to the experts, if you want to carve Ash, treat it like Red Oakwood.

  • Go for rough-in work with a deep bevel and grind to a shallower bevel for better details.
  • Always cut small slices and use stop cuts of the wood along the direction of the wood grain. because long slices can cause the wood to split.

The ring-porous structure of Ash wood makes it difficult to carve especially using hand tools. This is why power tools are recommended when carving hard and dense woods like Ash wood.

Ash wood has a medium to coarse texture and straight wood grain which is important in wood carving. Even though Ash wood is difficult to carve, people tend to go for Ash wood because of its attractive texture and straight wood grain.

Ash wood has a moisture content of 50% of its total weight. So, to make the carving easy with Ash wood, you should dry the wood and reduce the moisture content for better carving.

Also, because of being high-density textured wood, Ash wood carvings can easily be polished and expressive in large wood carving projects.

Ash wood Properties that are Important in Wood Carving

1. High strength and Durability

Ash wood is one of the hardest and strongest woods on the planet. According to the Janka hardness ratings, Ash wood has a hardness rating of 1,320 lbf (5,872 N) which is significantly higher than many other kinds of wood.

The compressive strength and bending strength of Ash wood are also, pretty good for any wood carving project.

  • The compressive strength of Ash wood is 7,410 psi
  • The bending strength of Ash wood is 15,000 psi

Therefore, wood carvings made of Ash wood are extremely hard and strong with great durability. Ash carvings will easily last over decades with proper maintenance.

2. Shock Resistance

Ash wood has excellent shock resistance which is pretty much useful in carving sports items such as balls and bats.

If your Ash wood carves got hit hard, most of the shock force will absorb by the wood itself and protect the carve from splitting and cracking.

3. Lightweight

Usually, most of the hardwoods with excellent hardness and density are heavy in weight. Therefore, handling is difficult when carving. But surprisingly Ash wood is lightweight and you can easily handle and crave shaped without any issue.

4. Attractive

Ash wood has a straight grain pattern with a uniform texture with a light brown hue. This nice appearance on the surface makes the Ash wood aesthetically pleasing and an excellent option for wood carvings for decorative purposes.

5. Safe to Use

Ash wood is safe for wood carving. It is non-toxic wood and food safe. Therefore, Ash wood cutting boards are widely spreading in the woodworking world.

Therefore, you can use Ash wood to carve children’s toys, kitchen utensils, and any other equipment without any safety issues.

Pros and Cons of Using Ash wood for Carving

ProsCons
Nice appearanceEasily split
High workability with power toolsHard to carve due to high hardness and density
AffordableOpen grain
Easy to maintainLow weather resistance
Shock resistant 
Safe to carve 
Lightweight 

As you can see, Ash wood is a great wood for carving with lots of advantages. Plus, most of the disadvantages can prevent by applying a proper sealer for outdoor use.

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about is Ash good for carving with different carving techniques.

Is Ash Good for Hand Craving?

Ash wood is not recommended for hand carving without a well-sharpened toolset with enough resources. Plus, the user should have a good experience of carving Ash wood using hand tools.

Read: How to Sharpen a Gouge? – Top 2 Methods – Detailed Guide

As a woodworker, I generally avoid carving Ash wood with hand tools because of its high hardness and density. I never recommend beginners to carve Ash wood using hand tools because they I’ll never know the methods and techniques of wood carving and frustration is the only thing that they get by starting their carving journey by carving Ash wood with hand tools.

Is Ash Good for Chainsaw Craving?

Ash wood is an excellent wood for chainsaw carving. The wood won’t be split with chainsaw carving and you don’t have to worry about resources even if the user is a beginner or pro at wood carving, chainsaw carving of Ash wood is possible.

When you’re carving Ash wood using a chainsaw better to carve along its wood grain to avoid wood splitting.

Is Ash Good for Spoon Carving?

 Ash wood is not good for spoon carving. When carving a spoon there are lots of fine details you have to focus on. But with a hardwood like Ash wood which is very hard and dense, it’s so hard to make long slices cuts because the wood will split easily.

Plus, the open-grained structure of Ash wood has open pores that will retain food, oil, and fats and turn rancid even after washing the spoon.

Another thing is Ash wood has a ring pores structure and water carrying vessels are not distributed evenly throughout the wood. This makes the wood difficult to carve a spoon.

The high moisture content of Ash wood is not good to carve a spoon. Drying the wood to eliminate moisture is also quite difficult because Ash is a hardwood with high toughness.

According to my point of view, the time and effort you put on Ash wood can be wasted with a single split, and better to go for an alternative option like Basswood which is known as one of the best woods for wood carving.

Ash wood Carvings

Ash wood is mainly used for large wood carving projects due to its high durability and strength. Ash can get some nice shapes with power carving.

Here’re some common wood carving projects of Ash wood,

  • Sculptures
  • Wall arts
  • Baskets
  • Boxes
  • Crates
  • Sports equipment

Likewise, Ash wood is a popular option for most wood carvings due to its great qualities.

Best Other Wood Types for Carving Than Ash wood

Here’re are some other types of wood that give exceptional qualities in wood carving. You can easily skip Ash wood and pick one from them to start your next wood carving project.

  • Pine
  • Basswood
  • Black Walnut
  • Aspen
  • Butternut
  • Sugar Maple
  • White Pine

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Ash Good for Carving?

In this article, we’ve deeply discussed is Ash good for carving and is Ash difficult to carve with qualities of Ash wood which are important in wood craving.

Overall, Ash wood is a great wood for carving with well-sharpened hand tools and the user must be experienced. Beginners should practice with so many different types of woods than directly starting with Ash wood.

Furthermore, I have answered some frequently asked questions about Ash wood carvings with the best alternative wood types for carving as well.

So, I hope you have gained good knowledge about Ash wood carving in detail. So, let’s jump into your next wood carving project with Ash wood to get some practice and be the pro at this game. Enjoy wood carving!

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