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American Oak vs Vic Ash vs Walnut

Updated: May 9

A Brief Comparison


Three hardwood timbers each with their unique characteristics.


Let's have a quick look at some of their differences in hardness, colour, character, sustainability and cost.

 

Before we begin, at Maram when we refer to Vic Ash we are covering the following three Eucalypt species; Eucalyptus Regnans (Mountain Ash), Eucalyptus Delegatensis (Alpine Ash) and Eucalyptus Obliqua (Messmate). Timbers from these species are also called Tasmanian Oak.


Hardness

Quantifies how easily the timber dents, rated in Janka scale.

American Oak

Vic Ash

Walnut

6 kN

4.8 kN

4.9 kN

All three timbers are hardwoods and American Oak is the hardest of them, which is one of the reasons why it is commonly used for flooring. For furniture making though, all three timbers are absolutely fine.



Colour

Timber comes in vast shades within the same species itself, keeping that in mind we like to describe these three as follows.

American Oak

Vic Ash

Walnut

Tones of blonde to light brown.

Tones of blonde, light brown and pink.

Light brown to dark chocolate brown.




On the right we can see the different shades and character Walnut can produce on this Mesa desk.




Character

Much like colour, timber comes with different grain patterns and cuts.

American Oak

Vic Ash

Walnut

​Crown cut. Tight grain lines to wavy patterns, almost like tiger stripes.

Quarter sawn. Straight open and even grained with a uniform texture.

​Crown cut. Fine grained to feature filled swirls and wave patterns.





Mesa 57 desk in American Oak finished in Sand at our Maram worskhop (socks not included).












Origin & Sustainability

All three timbers are grown and harvested using sustainable practices, learn more here.

American Oak

Vic Ash

Walnut

​North America

NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, Australia

Eastern United States and Canada.

Growing and harvesting timber is only the first part, it needs to be transported to get to our Maram workshop. The further away the larger the logistical impact.


Price

Vic Ash < American Oak < Walnut


It's no surprise our local timbers are the most cost effective, with American Oak about 1.25x the cost of Vic Ash and Walnut about 2.5x.


Conclusion

Three hardwood timbers all ideal for furniture making, each with their unique characteristics. Vic Ash and American Oak provide natural tones of light brown, blonde to pink whilst Walnut adds darker rich chocolate tones. Their grain character's vary with direction and pattern. Vic Ash's straight grains give consistency while American Oak and Walnut have wavy and narrow patterns along side feature filled swirls.


All three timbers are grown and harvested sustainably, although the distance traveled to reach their destination can impact their environmental footprint. In Australia, the price varies with Vic Ash the most cost-effective and Walnut the most expensive.


In addition to the above, when deciding on the right timber for your furniture, consider the surrounding space, flooring colour and the existing furniture. Lastly keep in mind at Maram we can stain most timbers to match a certain shade or colour.

On the left we have rough sawn Walnut, this is how we receive it at our Maram workshop. On the right you can see the character that pops out after machining and a coat of oil.

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