Common Name(s): Yellow buckeye
Scientific Name: Aesculus flava (syn. A. octandra)
Distribution: Eastern United States
Tree Size: 50-75 ft (15-23 m) tall,
1.5-2 ft (.5-.6 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 25 lbs/ft3 (400 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .33, .40
Janka Hardness: 350 lbf (1,420 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 7,500 lbf/in2 (51.7 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,170,000 lbf/in2 (8.07 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 4,170 lbf/in2 (28.8 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 3.6%, Tangential: 8.1%,
Volumetric: 12.5%, T/R Ratio: 2.3
Color/Appearance: Heartwood is creamy white or light yellow, not clearly demarcated from the white sapwood. Can have grayish streaks. Buckeye burl can feature reddish brown knots, with light to dark gray swirls of discoloring (see pictures below).
Grain/Texture: Buckeye has a fine, even texture. Grain tends to be straight or slightly interlocked.
Rot Resistance: Buckeye has poor decay resistance, and is rated as non-durable to perishable.
Workability: Buckeye is generally easy to work, but its unusually low density can lead to fuzzy surfaces, similar to aspen or cottonwood. Responds poorly to steam bending. Glues and finishes well.
Odor: Buckeye can have an unpleasant smell when green, which greatly subsides upon drying.
Allergies/Toxicity: Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with buckeye. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Not typically used for lumber due to its low density and strength, buckeye can sometimes be found in board form, and should be comparable to aspen or basswood. Burls are more valuable and are sold for smaller specialty purposes.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Furniture, utility wood, boxes/crates, pulpwood; while the burl sections are used for electric guitar tops, pen blanks, and other small, specialty turned objects.
Comments: Yellow buckeye is one of the softest and lightest hardwoods native to the United States. It’s low strength and bland appearance limit it to basic utility purposes.
The burl sections of buckeye are much more prized, and their light-on-dark knot clusters, and unique, almost black discolorations make them sought after for a variety of specialty and hobbyist applications.
Images: Drag the slider up/down to toggle between raw and finished wood. A special thanks to Salem Barker for providing the sculpture photos of this wood species.
Porosity: diffuse porous
Arrangement: solitary and radial multiples
Vessels: small, very numerous
Rays: narrow, normal to close spacing
Lookalikes/Substitutes: When used for utility lumber, yellow buckeye can be mixed with aspen (Populus spp.), basswood (Tilia americana), and yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera). Two other woods that are very similar anatomically are tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua).
Notes: Yellow buckeye has ripple marks on flatsawn surfaces, while they are largely absent from Ohio buckeye (A. glabra) and many lookalikes.
Buckeye seals very nicely with Cactus Juice, available from https://www.turntex.com and a number of other suppliers.
I get it from Cook Woods in Oregon. They ship. (I’m not affiliated at all, just was looking up buckeye as I just ordered a large burl piece and wanted to read info about its working properties.)
What should be used to seal buckeye wood. I have a dough tray made from buckeye which has not be sealed and I would like to preserve it. It will never be used to making dough.