Chestnut (American) Hardwood

Chestnut (American)

American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) is a versatile timber with a range of uses, from furniture to casks and construction. The heartwood of this species is greyish-brown to brown and can age to a darken brown, with wide growth rings creating an interesting figure on certain cuts. It is also known to have wormholes as a result of chestnut blight. The sapwood is whitish to light brown and narrow. The grain is generally straight, but can also be spiral-grained. American Chestnut has a fairly coarse to coarse texture and has some similarities to oak, but without the distinctive broad rays.

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Material Type:

Also Called:
Chestnut, Wormy Chestnut

Durability Notes:
Chestnut (American) wood is a durable timber.

The drying and seasoning of Chestnut (American) is dependant on a number of factors; the speed in which it is processed after felling and logging, the method of drying and the specific kilns or location (if air dried). Generally the care taken by those processing the wood will have an impact on its drying and seasoning. As an overview; Chestnut (American) - Drying is slow and challenging, with a tendency to dry unevenly, resulting in honeycombing and collapse. Iron staining can be a problem. Please note that all wood is liable to move when in service plus there can be dimensional change. The extent of this will depend on; the stability of the species itself, the conditions it is exposed to, the coating, decoration and protection. You will find more information about the suitability of this wood, for any proposed application, by using our interactive system and the filters shown.

American chestnut has very low resistance to shock loads and very low stiffness. Chestnut has low bending strength and medium crushing strength. Chestnut is fairly challenging to plane and saw but otherwise works well with machine or hand tools. Pre-drilling is required for nailing and screwing and it glues well. The blunting effect on cutters is fairly slight. The wood can be stained and polished to a very good finish. Contact with ferrous metals is liable to cause blue stain.

Typical Uses:
Furniture, Cabinetry, Flooring, Musical Instruments, Tool Handles, Firewood.

Moisture Content:
Guide - 10-18% for KD (+/- 2%)

Commonly asked questions about American Chestnut Wood

Is Chestnut a hardwood or a softwood? Chestnut is a hardwood. It is the same for; is American Chestnut hardwood or softwood? - American Chestnut is a hardwood.

Most groups/families of species share the same characteristics but this normally relates to their life as plants. Individual species do not always share the same characteristics as their relatives, in terms of the wood. Many factors influence how we use the wood and what we use it for, including where it grows, how it is forested, how it seasons/dries, etc. The answers to the following common questions, therefore relate to this particular species/wood and not the Chestnut family as a whole. Even more specific – our answers relate to the wood (as we know it) in its form as a useable resource.

What colour is American Chestnut? American Chestnut can be described as brown, dark brown, dark red, red

Is American Chestnut good for outdoor use? or is American Chestnut good for exterior use? American Chestnut is most suited for exterior/external use. American Chestnut can be used as an exterior/external timber (without treatment).

Whether the wood is naturally durable or not we would still recommend that it is decorated and/or coated with a suitable product to provide protection and/or maintain its appearance. This even applies when using the wood internally as, even subtle, changes in temperature or humidity will affect the wood. This will depend on the application/purpose of the wood and the user’s desired appearance. We also recommend that a recoating, care and maintenance programme is adhered to, for the life of an exterior wood. Wood cannot rot if it is kept dry – coatings and decoration can provide this protection. All of that said there are many durable timbers that are often left to weather naturally and will last for many years untreated/coated – movement and visual changes will occur but this is sometimes the desired effect. All wood is hygroscopic (it 'wants' to be in tune with its environment) it will therefore take on water from moisture in the air (or when directly exposed to or submerged in water) and ‘release it’ when dry or exposed to heat. This, inevitably, results in movement and dimensional change. For more about moisture in wood please click here - Moisture in wood

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