Ash is a great species of lumber to work with. Ash is known for its staining potential and ability to mimic oak. It has great shock resistance, and solid workability. To this point, it has been an economical wood that was always readily available.
The light brown and creamy white colorations of ash look great with a simple clear finish and are strikingly beautiful.
Uses for Ash Wood
Ash is used for furniture, cabinetry, flooring, doors, architectural moulding and millwork, tool handles, baseball bats, hockey sticks, oars, turnings, and is also sliced for veneer. It is a popular species for food containers because the wood has no taste. Learn more about ash lumber.
Emerald Ash Borers are likely to kill 99 percent of the U.S. ash wood trees, says the U.S. Forest Service. This exotic insect girdles and kills the tree. The killer beetle has made a home in 26 states, two Canadian providences and is continuing to spread. In just 10 years, it has become the most destructive forest pest ever seen in North America.
The demise of the ash tree would be a truly sad event.
Can the Emerald Ash Borer be Stopped?
Research continues and (expensive) single-tree treatment is now available, but as of now, the infestation continues. In areas of the country already infected by emerald ash borer, quarantine efforts are underway to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer to new areas (the latest quarantine map).
The USDA has also recently approved three species of parasitic non-stinging wasps for import from China. The wasp eggs develop inside of the ash borer larvae, killing it. After they emerge from the trees, the adult wasps continue to feed on larvae and eggs in the area. Woodpeckers are the wasps only natural competition. According to the USDA, the wasps are not attracted to pets or people and have no stingers. What looks like a stinger is actually their egg-laying organ.
Currently, scientists are breeding and releasing them. As of fall, the wasps have been released in 19 states. But their population still has to catch up to the immense borer population and Illinois doesn’t have the wasps as yet.
“It’ll be years before that balance comes back into the ecosystem until then, there’s no silver bullet to save those ash trees,” said Heminghous.
Giving Ash a Second Life
Many woodworkers and designers are embracing ash, with a desire of paying homage to ash in its wood form, embracing the idea that even when you can’t save the ash tree, you can save its wood. The Chicago Furniture Designers Association has even launched a furniture exhibition entitled, Rising from the ASHES: Furniture from Lost Trees.
This resurgence in the popularity of ash is bittersweet. We will continue to celebrate and use ash lumber while it is available, while cheering on the parasitic wasps and hoping they will catch up to the emerald ash borer.
For more information refer to http://www.emeraldashborer.info/.
Be certain to check any quarantine regulations before removing ash.