Ash throughout history
Fraxinus excelsior, more commonly known as European ash, is the toughest hardwood and has been used by humans for centuries. From being handles on Neolithic axes to 19th century carriages, ash has always been the go-to wood for carpenters. Ash is strong but flexible making it the ideal material for sturdy ladders, durable floorboards, and delicate skis. Centuries ago, it was also the favoured timber for arrows and catapults. Nowadays ash is commonly found as the cabinets in our kitchen, under the upholstery of our sofas and made into the bats of cricketeers. Its hallmark attributes lend well to structures that require a more curvaceous form as it can bowed and arced. But its properties do not stop there.
Ash in the workshop
At Steamed Studio, we love to work with ash. A beautiful creamy beige, ash wood accents most colours and brightens up any room. It is a timeless timber that reoccurs in interior trends again and again. Ductile in nature, European ash is the perfect timber to steam bend. Due to its shock absorbing tendency, the wood fibres resist splitting and cracking meaning more intricate shapes can be seamlessly created. No piece is ever the same when we work with ash. As a ring-porous wood, markings and variations in colours stripe the wood giving it its distinctive and beautiful aesthetic.
The Importance of Ash in the wild
Since sustainability and quality wood is an intrinsic part of who we are, understanding the role and value the ash tree plays in nature is vital. Amongst others, the ash is responsible for locking in large amounts of carbon which is crucial in the fight against climate change. Unfortunately, the threat of ash dieback haunts the longevity of the ash’s permeance on Britain’s landscape. This would be devastating to the wildlife and ecosystem that the ash synergises with. Mostly found in woodlands, the ash tree is Britain’s third most common tree. Early leaf fall allows light to pool on the woodland floor making it optimum growing conditions for insect supporting wildflowers. The ash tree is also home to many species of bird including owls, woodpeckers, and nuthatches. As the ideal habitat, the ash’s bark provides a nutritious diet of leaves, lichen, seeds, and deadwood for wildlife ranging from bullfinches and privet hawkmoths.