Ash: the right wood in all the right places


With its straight grain and exceptional strength, ash has long been a staple in the legs of chairs, rockers, and benches throughout our collections. Balancing its strength, ash is also remarkably resilient– providing just the right “give” to make a spindle Thos. Moser chairback every bit as comfortable as it is beautiful.

A detail of an ash board. black and white images is of Tom Moser working on the spindle of a bowback chair

Tensile Strength

What is this “give” that makes ash so desirable to use for making spindles and legs? It’s known as tensile strength or the elasticity of the material. Every piece of wood, metal, glue, fiber, and even our own hair has tensile strength. It is the measure of how much pressure or stress can be placed on any one element before it breaks.

Tensile strength is the maximum stress or force a material can withstand while being stretched, pulled, or absorbed before breaking. Ash is an optimum choice for furniture makers to use for legs and spindles, as it can be manipulated and bent while maintaining its strength. In addition, ash is not as heavy as other hardwoods, making it perfect for creating a chair that is built to withstand everyday use that is not cumbersome.

Wooden stools at a kitchen island. There is vase with flowering twigs on the counter. the kitchen has blue tile backsplash and grey colored cabinets

Characteristics of Ash

Ash or Fraxinus is in the same family as the olive and lilac tree. Named for its spear-shaped leaves, the ash tree has over a dozen varieties that grow throughout the Eastern United States and Canada, the most common being green or white.

L: hands putting together a drawer made of ash. R: A dresser made of ash in a photo studio setting


Light in color, it is often difficult to see where the sapwood (the outermost part of the tree) and heartwood ( the innermost part of the tree) begin. Over time, the creamy color of ash will age into a dark golden hue.

Detail of ash spindles


Ash is considered a “hardwood,” as are the cherry and walnut we use in our furniture. However, the term “strength” or “hardness” of wood is incredibly ambiguous. That is to say; there is more than one way of determining the strength of the wood and its application.

The bending strength (when the weight is placed perpendicular to the grain) of ash is 15,000 psi. In contrast, cherry is 12,300 psi, and walnut is 14,600 psi. The hardness of ash (determined by engineers driving a metal ball halfway into the wood’s surface) is 1,320 lbs of force, compared to 490 lbs for cherry and 1,010 lbs for walnut.

The thos moser continuous arm chair on the left and on the right a detail of the ash legs of the chair.

Grain Pattern

Ash contains a relatively smooth and straight brown-beige grain pattern giving it a neutral palette that complements the varied grain patterns of cherry and walnut. Though it is generally known for its straight grain, conditions in its environment- soil, moisture, pests- can result in figured or spalted ash.

Two wooden chairs (Eastward Chairs) one in cherry one in walnut hang on a shaker wall post.


Building Furniture for a lifetime

When we build furniture, we do so with the utmost respect for the materials. We employ its natural strength and do so with the keen eye of a master craftsman. And in doing so, we carefully select wood that will dutifully withstand the rigors of daily life. As a natural polymer, wood resists stress by spreading the weight throughout the length of any given board. We follow its lead, utilizing the natural cathedrals of the grain as ornamentation that naturally enhances our aesthetic.

For us, ash’s tenacity and durability to withstand a lifetime of use in our chair legs and spindles make it the right wood in the right place.



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