Ash thrives throughout Europe, North America, and Japan and as a timber is commercially important in all these regions.
European Ash (F. excelsior) is white with a pink tint when first cut. Occasionally, dark brown heartwood may occur; this is marketed separately as "Olive Ash." Ash is a ring-porous wood with a conspicuous grain pattern on plain-sawn surfaces. It is straight-grained with a coarse texture. Ash dries rapidly with little degradation or shrinkage and is a strong wood with excellent shock resistance qualities. It works well with hand and machine tools, bends well under steam and can be brought to a good finish. It is not naturally durable, so is unsuitable for outside use unless treated.
Ash is extensively used for chair and cabinet making, but its ability to absorb shock loads has made it a firm favorite for sports equipment. Hockey sticks, baseball bats, cricket stumps, and gymnasium equipment are all made of ash. It has been used to make carpenter's tools since classical times, and is used today to make handles for striking tools such as axes, picks, hammers, and garden tools such as spades and rakes. Like oak and yew, ash has long had strong supernatural and ritual associations. For instance, ash is the wood preferred by the Iroquois Indians of North America when cutting their "false face" masks from trees.
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