Common Name(s): European Hornbeam, Common Hornbeam
Scientific Name: Carpinus betulus
Distribution: Europe and western Asia
Tree Size: 50-65 ft (15-20 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 46 lbs/ft3 (735 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .53, .74
Janka Hardness: 1,630 lbf (7,260 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 16,010 lbf/in2 (110.4 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,755,000 lbf/in2 (12.10 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 7,320 lbf/in2 (50.5 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 6.8%, Tangential: 11.5%, Volumetric: 18.4%, T/R Ratio: 1.7
Color/Appearance: Hornbeam’s sapwood is very thick, with most boards and lumber being comprised entirely of sapwood. Color is nearly white. Pale yellowish brown heartwood isn’t clearly demarcated from sapwood.
Grain/Texture: Grain is straight to slightly interlocked, with a fine, even texture.
Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; small to medium pores, often in radial or diagonal arrangement, (sometimes in dendritic arrangement), moderately numerous to numerous; commonly in radial multiples of 2-4; tyloses occasionally present; smaller rays not visible without lens, with much larger aggregate rays occasionally present, close spacing; parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates, banded (marginal).
Rot Resistance: Hornbeam is rated as non-durable to perishable in regards to decay resistance, and is also susceptible to insect attack. However, Hornbeam has excellent resistance to wear and abrasion.
Workability: Overall, Hornbeam is considered difficult to work on account of its density and toughness. However, this same density, coupled with its fine and even grain, make an excellent turning wood. Stains, glues, and finishes well.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Hornbeam has been reported to cause skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Prices for the wood should be moderate throughout its natural range. Not commonly exported to the United States.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Fuelwood, flooring, veneer, musical instruments (percussion), wheels, handles, shafts, turned objects, and other small wood parts.
Comments: So named, either 1) because one of its original uses was as an ox yoke, or 2) the wood was reputed to be as hard and tough as a horn.
Scans/Pictures: A special thanks to Steve Earis for providing the wood sample and turned photo of this wood species.