Is Ash Tree Wood Good For Wood Carving?

Want to try your hand at carving, but not sure what type of wood you should use?

Well, in this post, you’ll learn why your woodcarving style will dictate the best wood for carving with. You’ll also discover exactly how tough Ash wood is (it might surprise you).

And keep reading to find out what type of woodcarving technique Ash wood may (or may not) be best suited for.

is ash good for carving

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What Is The Best Wood For Woodcarving?

The answer to this depends on your wood carving style.

Some carving styles use hand tools and require a light touch. So, these carving techniques require quite low density soft pliable woods.

On the other hand, there are some carving styles that need a heavier hand — and in some cases even require power tools. So tougher wood types are more suited for these styles.

OK…So What Types Of Wood Are Best For Different Carving Techniques?

Well, when it comes to light touch carving that uses hand tools, you should use pliable woods.

So for whittling, Basswood and White Pine are good choices, because these two timbers don’t require a lot of force to cut. And, these timber types also hold designs rather well too.

For styles that require a bit more force, such as Chip Carving, lumber such as Black Walnut and Cherry, are ideal.

When it comes to intense carving styles — of the kind that require power tools — you need very tough timber. So, for styles like Chainsaw Carving, you need to use a tough timber like European Oak (a.k.a White Oak).

What About Ash Wood? What Type Of Carving Style Is Ash Wood Suited For?

One of the first things you need to know about a woods suitability for a carving style, is its toughness.

Very soft woods are great for delicate precise cut carving. While heavy hard timbers are not.

And, one of the ways that we measure the hardness of a particular wood, is by checking its Janka rating.

That Janka rating measures how much force it takes to make a dent in a piece of wood. The higher the Janka rating, the more force it takes. And the more force it takes, then the harder the timber.

Now, when it comes to power tool carving styles such as Chainsaw Carving, White Oak is a great choice wood for that particular style.

White Oak has a Janka rating of 1290 lbf. That means it will take 1290 pounds of force to make a dent in this tough durable lumber.

When we look at Ash Woods Janka rating, it is even harder than White Oak. That’s because Ash woods Janka rating is 1320 lbf. So, Ash wood is a poor choice for lighter tough hand-tool wood carving styles, such as Whittling.

Related Post: Is Oak Wood A Good Choice For Chainsaw Carving?

But What About Using Ash Wood For Styles Like Woodturning or Chainsaw Carving?

Well, beyond woods toughness, another thing we need to check for is a wood types stability. You see, the more stable a wood is, then the less likely it is to warp or form wood checks.


If a wood is stable, then it’s less likely to expand/contract each time it absorbs moisture (or dries out).

Now, generally, we prevent warping and checking by sealing wood. So, a moisture-resistant wood finish is enough to stop the worst effects of warping.

However, when we carve wood, there is no wood finish protecting that timber. So, until you apply that final wood finishing coat, then wood checking can occur at the most inopportune moment.

And those unsightly checks and cracks can ruin an otherwise perfectly carved piece.

Related Post: Where Can I Buy Wood For Carving? (Solved!)

Why Does Wood Checking Matter When It Comes To Ash Wood?

Well, it matters because Ash wood is fairly prone to cracking and checking. This is particularly the case if you carve with green Ash wood.

Green wood is any wood that has been freshly cut from the tree. At this point, freshly cut lumber has a high amount of moisture in it. This is why green Ash wood is surprisingly pliable to carve into.

Nevertheless, as that moisture dries out, green wood can begin to contract and shrink. And this drying-out movement can cause splits and cracks to appear.

Related Post: 11 Surprisingly Simple Wood Carving Projects for Absolute Beginners

Does This Mean That Ash Wood Is No Good For Woodcarving?

If you want to practice certain carving cuts and techniques, Ash is as good a wood as any to use.

However, if you want Ash to hold intricate designs, then it’s propensity to crack is going to leave you disappointed.

To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…

  • 1). Ash wood is a tough timber, and it is even harder than White Oak.
  • 2). However, it is not the most stable of wood types. And Ash wood has a tendency to crack and split as it dries out.
  • 3). Green Ash wood can still be readily used to practice carving techniques and cuts.