The aesthetic of British Ash in handmade furniture
We regularly use British Ash in the furniture we make. And what a wonderful timber it is! A robust, durable hardwood that is a joy to work with. It’s pretty lightweight and fairly knot free. It sands beautifully and the crown cut boards have stunning grain patterns.
The colour can vary from a clean pale white ash (usually the crown cut boards will be more consistent in colour), to palish boards with almost pinkish hues, to boards cut from the heart which boast striking olive streaks. The streaks run down the length in the middle of the boards giving a wonderful contrast to the pale ash bordering them.
These boards cut from the heart of the tree are often referred to as Olive ash. You’ll see that each table within our collection of handmade dining room tables can be commissioned in a variety of timbers; and that British Olive Ash is one of these options.
The naturally pale colour of ash also makes it a great timber to use in order to contrast with a darker / richer timber in a single piece of furniture such as our Woolcombe bench.
Here’s a picture of a writing desk we made in British Olive Ash with a drawer bottom in British elm. The Pale Ash works beautifully with the richer hues of the elm.
And here’s an image of some contrasting American Black Walnut wedges in an Ash tenon of our Potton Table.
If we’re working on a bespoke dining or kitchen table that we’ve been commissioned to make in British Ash; I’ll usually pick from a pack ‘seat grade’ boards at the sawmill that I use. The grading that they use (seat), essentially means the waney edge boards in the pack are going to be nice and wide (normally around 600mm), with few defects in them. Any splits and shakes will normally be towards each end of the boards rather than down the middle. All these features basically mean that the pack would also be suitable for making some lovely clean ash chair seats.
This cleaner seat grading is achieved by not kilning the boards to such a low moisture content. Typically a kiln dried board of Ash might be around 11%, whereas the seat grade Ash is usually taken out of the kiln when the moisture content is around 18%.
So let’s say for example that we’re making a bespoke kitchen table that’s going to be 800mm wide and is going to be made using British Olive Ash. I’d aim to pick 2 lovely wide boards from the same log, each boasting a striking olive streak.
Back at the workshop I would cut the waney edges off on the saw, then rip (cut along the length of the board) each board in 2 and mark which planks are from which board. Once I have machined them all to thickness and square edged them, I would then arrange the planks in the order that they’ll be glued to make the table top. During this process the pairs are glued back together to look like a single board again. The end result will be a beautiful handmade table top with 2 stunning olive streaks running down its length.
We applied a raw oiled finish to the dining table top pictured below (handmade in British Olive Ash).
If you’re interested in commissioning a bespoke table or piece of furniture in this lovely timber that is British Ash, then why not contact us to talk more about the furniture that we could make for you.