5 Questions About Elm Wood

Beth Rice 08/02/2024

Mixed in with the big players of Amish furniture like oak, cherry and brown maple, elm wood can get lost in the shuffle. While it may not be the wood that’s first thought of for furniture, elm brings its own unique qualities to the table so to speak. Just what is elm wood like? Here are answers to the top five questions about elm wood.

Is elm a good wood for furniture?

Elm wood is hard and strong, making it a good option for furniture that needs to handle a lot of stress. On the Janka Hardness rating scale for woods, elm scores a rating of 830. It’s classified as a “soft hardwood.” This means it’s quite durable and strong, it’s just softer than other hardwoods. Its unique interlocked wood grain makes it even stronger and more resistant to splitting. In addition, elm wood offers great shock resistance, adding to its durability and making it a fine wood for furniture and furniture parts. Despite its toughness, elm steam bends nicely and holds its shape, making it an excellent option for furniture parts like chair backs, furniture frames, seats and legs that need to be strong. Elm wood takes a stain well for a nice finish.

Christy Hutch and Buffet
The Christy Hutch and Buffet showcases grey elm in a natural finish.

What color is elm wood?

Elm’s heartwood (the wood closer to the to the center of the log) features colors that range from light to medium reddish-brown. The sapwood is off-white in color.

What does elm wood look like?

Elm wood showcases a bold wood grain pattern that features unique rings. This interlocking pattern forms on its own terms. The fibers of the wood grain reverse their direction as the tree is growing. This results in a grain that swirls and creates spirals that stand out. The way the pattern is interlocking adds to the toughness of the wood.

Notice how active elm wood’s grain pattern is.
The Christy Quick Ship Dining Chair shows off beautiful elm wood on the seat and back top.

What is elm wood used for?

In addition to wood furniture, other items that the strength of elm is perfect for include:

  • Butcher blocks
  • Cutting boards
  • Chair seats
  • Spindles
  • Baskets, barrels and crates
  • Hockey sticks
  • Tool handles
  • Wall and ceiling coverings
  • Musical instruments
  • Decorative objects
Christy Extension Dining Table with elm wood table top.

What’s special about elm wood?

  • Unique and lively wood grain pattern
  • Strong and durable
  • Offers shock resistance
  • Great for furniture and furniture parts that need to be strong
  • Holds its shape
  • Steam bends nicely
  • Unique colors
Christy Six Drawer Dresser in elm wood and brown maple.

Elm wood is rich with character. It’s even referred to as a bold wood type due to its unique interlocking grain pattern. With its colors, strength and durable nature, elm wood is a fine choice for furniture and other items.

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  • Timothy Wood
    February 24, 2024 at 1:33 pm

    Great little article I am about to mill up a large elm log !

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