Sycamore is a popular wood in carving, furniture making, butcher block making, flooring, and many more. It is a fast-growing tree with lots of great qualities.
When using Sycamore for different woodworking projects, I was curious about its hardness. I’ve done some research to find out, Is Sycamore a Hardwood?
Yes, Sycamore is a hardwood with excellent dimensional stability. It is a domestic hardwood with a hardness rating of 770 lbf (3,425 N) which is higher than most woods. Because of having high hardness and toughness, Sycamore is used for high-end furniture and cabinetry.
But that’s just a quick snapshot and there’s a lot more to know about the hardness of Sycamore just than that!
In this article, we’ll explore is Sycamore a hardwood, and how hard is Sycamore by considering its characteristic qualities compared to other woods and its pros and cons. Also, we’ll talk about how strong Sycamore is with its uses.
Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about the hardness of Sycamore compared to other popular wood types as well.
So, let’s jump in!
Check out these straight grain, figured white sycamore veneered Class O panels, doors and solid white Sycamore hardwood frame sets supplied to the recently completed Aga Khan Centre. A truly inspiring new building in Kings Cross with some of the best views of London! pic.twitter.com/AKmVfEEguR— Shadbolt (@ShadboltDoors) September 20, 2018
How Hard Is Sycamore?
Sycamore is one of the hardest domestic species in the world, which only seconds to wood types like Hickory.
It is a hardwood with exceptional dimensional stability, toughness, and durability.
The hardness of Sycamore is calculated by the Janka hardness test.
Janka hardness test is calculated by considering the resistance to wear and dent of a particular wood.
If any wood has high resistance against dent and wear, that means its Janka hardness rating is high.
According to the Janka hardness ratings, Sycamore has a hardness rating of 770 lbf (3,425 N) which is harder than most softwoods and some hardwoods as well.
Sycamore comes from a deciduous tree family that loses leaves in winter. It has a diffuse porous structure from small to medium.
Because of being hardwood, tyloses are present in their wood fibers which helps to minimize water absorption and prevent the wood from rotting.
Because of having high hardness and due to the presence of tyloses, Sycamore can be used for outdoor applications.
It has good weather resistance.
Sycamore wood is hard, tough, and durable. It has excellent resistance against cracking and splitting. Therefore, Sycamore is difficult to cut.
Woodworks and furniture made from Sycamore last for years even under harsh environments due to high hardness and resistance against environmental elements.
Due to high hardness, most sawmills don’t quarter saw Sycamore.
It has beautiful light tan to orange and brown color shades that add unique appearances to your house.
Because of having a significantly high hardness with a beautiful appearance, Sycamore is popular for luxury high-end furniture.
People tend to buy Sycamore furniture because they care about the quality of the wood.
Sycamore cabinet. Haven’t even put a finish on it yet! Love this wood. Hard to work with, but absolutely worth it. pic.twitter.com/a5VRIrRNQo— Greg Pillars (@PillarsGreg) December 28, 2016
So, let’s have a look at the hardness of Sycamore compared to other wood types to get an idea about how hard it is.
|Wood Species||Hardness value|
|Brazilian Walnut||3,684 lbf (16,390 N)|
|Red Mahogany, Turpentine||2,697 lbf (12,000 N)|
|Brazilian Cherry, Jatoba||2,350 lbf (10,500 N)|
|Golden Teak||2,330 lbf (10,400 N)|
|Hickory, Pecan, Satinwood||1,820 lbf (8,100 N)|
|Hard Maple, Sugar Maple||1,450 lbf (6,400 N)|
|White Oak||1,360 lbf (6,000 N)|
|Ash (White)||1,320 lbf (5,900 N)|
|American Beech||1,300 lbf (5,800 N)|
|Red Oak (Northern)||1,290 lbf (5,700 N)|
|Yellow Birch / Baltic birch||1,260 lbf (5,600 N)|
|Teak||1,155 lbf (5,140 N)|
|Black Walnut, North American Walnut||1,010 lbf (4,500 N)|
|Cherry||995 lbf (4,430 N)|
|Black Cherry, Imbuia||950 lbf (4,200 N)|
|Red Maple||950 lbf (4,200 N)|
|Sycamore||770 lbf (3,425 N)|
|Douglas Fir||710 lbf (3,158 N)|
|Silver Maple||700 lbf (3,100 N)|
|Hemlock||540 lbf (2,402 N)|
|Black Spruce||520 lbf (2,313 N)|
|Cypress||510 lbf (2,269 N)|
|Redwood||420 lbf (1,868 N)|
|Basswood||410 lbf (1,823 N)|
|Engelmann Spruce||390 lbf (1,735 N)|
|Sugar Pine||380 lbf (1,690 N)|
|White Pine||380 lbf (1,690 N)|
|Aspen||350 lbf (1,557 N)|
|White Cedar||320 lbf (1,423 N)|
As you can see the Sycamore has a medium level of hardness compared to most hardwoods.
Because of having good hardness and toughness, Sycamore is a durable versatile wood in the woodworking world.
American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), readily distinguishable by its large maple-like leaves & smooth white trunk that has pealing scaly brown bark near the base. Very hard, durable wood with fine speckled grain. pic.twitter.com/b0HBiEIeM0— James Green disagrees with SCOTUS (@J_Green_505) December 14, 2017
Sycamore is a hardwood that ranges in color from light tan to reddish-brown. Overall Sycamore is a beautiful wood that adds a unique appearance to your house.
Sycamore has an even and fine texture with interlocked grain pattern. Therefore, Sycamore does not take stains well.
The stain spread unevenly and causes a blotchy or splotchy surface. This is because of its tight grain structure.
The stain pigments are unable to penetrate through its wood fibers.
Apart from being a hardwood, Sycamore is one of the strongest wood types as well. Plus it has good resistance against cracking and splitting due to its high density.
Cutting, drilling, and screwing is difficult with Sycamore because it is so tough, and your woodworking tools need to be well sharpened.
It glues, turns, and finishes well. But shows a poor response for steam bending to soften wood before bending.
If you’re a beginner in woodworking, working with Sycamore can be a nightmare because the saw tends to keep getting stuck.
Sycamore is not good at drying because of having an interlocked grain structure.
Therefore, the moisture easily gets trapped inside of the wood and causes wood to twist and warp easily. This can prevent by kiln-drying wood with a mild schedule.
The wood has poor decay and rot resistance.
Therefore, proper finishing is a must before using it for any kind of woodworking application.
Here’re some most significant qualities of Sycamore,
- Poor workability
- No decay or rot resistance
- Interlocked grain structure
- Difficult to dry
Here’re the main characteristic features of Sycamore,
|Color||Light tan to reddish-brown|
|Applications||Joinery paneling, molding, furniture, fences|
Off centre rippled sycamore decorative box.— @fromthetree (@GeorgeWatkins2) June 27, 2022
–#lathe #wood #woodturning pic.twitter.com/Em8oDPySjj
So, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Sycamore hardwood.
Pros and Cons of Sycamore
|Beautiful appearance||Poor decay resistance|
|High hardness||Poor rot resistance|
|High durability||Does not take stains well|
|Crack and Split resistant|
Thermally modified @GrowninBritain sycamore cladding being dispatched. Durable and #sustainable pic.twitter.com/8wSpfDhSv7— Tyler Hardwoods (@TylerHardwoods) March 9, 2015
So, let’s find out what are the popular applications of Sycamore as a hardwood species.
What Is Sycamore Used For?
Here’re the common applications of Sycamore,
- Wood carving
- Butcher blocks
- Indoor and outdoor woodworks
Koa and Sycamore entrance tables complete! #luxury #furniture pic.twitter.com/B5ptqdzxDW— JoshuaRose Shep Huts (@JoshuaRose_Wood) August 8, 2016
How Strong Is Sycamore Wood?
Sycamore is a moderately strong wood. the compressive strength and bending strength of Sycamore are significantly higher than most hardwoods and softwoods because of being so heavy.
The compressive strength and bending strength of Sycamore are as follows,
- The compressive strength of Sycamore is 5,300 psi
- The bending strength of Sycamore is 10,000 psi
As you can see the bending strength of Sycamore is significantly high and therefore it has excellent flexibility against high forces.
This is useful in making cupboards and boat building.
That’s it, Folks! Now you know the answer to the hot question, Is Sycamore a hardwood? The answer is Yes.
So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about the hardness of Sycamore compared to other popular wood types.
Is Sycamore Harder Than Pine?
Yes, Sycamore is harder and denser than Sugar Pine and White Pine, but softer than Yellow Pine.
Pine wood belongs to the softwood family while Sycamore is a hardwood species. Even though Yellow Pine is a softwood, it has a greater hardness than Sycamore.
In the woodworking world, Pine is overall better and more versatile wood than Sycamore due to its excellent softwood qualities.
According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Sycamore and Pine is as follows,
|White Pine||380 lbf|
|Sugar Pine||380 lbf|
|Yellow Pine||870 lbf|
Nothing better than having a slice of tree in your house. Finally finished this sycamore slab dining table! What do y’all think? #buildlikeachampion #slaburday pic.twitter.com/hv89cLBXgh— Jaxon Uhles (@JaxonUhles) August 7, 2018
Is Sycamore Harder Than Walnut?
Walnut is harder than Sycamore. Walnut is harder denser and tougher than Sycamore.
It is a durable and long-lasting wood with excellent resistance against wear and tear. The finishing properties are also good in Walnut compared to Sycamore.
According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Sycamore and Walnut is as follows,
My first official post-pandemic project. A Tansu-styled shelf/drawer unit. Walnut, with sycamore drawers and door. The white wood in the rear of the unit is birch plywood. pic.twitter.com/3505JSIHyN— Connection Doctor, Empathy Guru (@PezeshkiCharles) May 30, 2021
Is Sycamore Harder Than Oak?
Oak is harder than Sycamore. Both Red Oak and White Oak are harder, denser, and more durable than Sycamore.
Both Oak and Sycamore comes from hardwood family.
According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Sycamore and Oak is as follows,
|Red Oak||1,290 lbf|
|White Oak||1,360 lbf|
As you can see, Oak is twice as much harder and denser than Sycamore.
Carved a sycamore spoon this morning while in the garden. It’s nice to sit outside and carve (it’s been ages since I had the chance). #spooncarving #heritagecrafts #greenwoodcarving pic.twitter.com/YdPGtiTlqq— Richard ♠️ (@rjwcrafts) March 15, 2022
Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Sycamore a Hardwood?
In this article, we have deeply discussed Is Sycamore a hardwood, and how hard Sycamore is by taking its characteristic qualities with pros and cons.
Sycamore is a hardwood with moderate hardness. It is tough and denser because of its interlocking grain structure. Even though it has excellent strengths, Sycamore has poor resistance against environmental elements such as moisture.
Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions about the hardness of Sycamore compared to other popular wood types.
Hope you have gained good knowledge about Is Sycamore a hardwood.
So, let’s begin your next woodworking project with Sycamore and get the best out of it. Have fun in woodworking!