Trade Name: Terms such as ‘figured’ may be applied to describe unusual appearance characteristics. It may be noted that American Chestnut (Castanea dentata), once a very important timber and quite similar to the European species, has been all but destroyed by disease. Even so trade lists occasionally offer this material mostly in veneer form.
Origin: Sweet Chestnut occurs in southwest Europe including Britain, France, Germany and also in Asia Minor and North Africa.
Appearance: The heartwood of Sweet Chestnut is yellow/brown and is similar in appearance to Oak but without the characteristic silver ray figure of that wood.
Mechanical: The wood is milder than Oak and weighs 550 kg/m3 . It is less strong than Oak but when well conditioned, is the more stable material.
Availability: The solid material is not listed by the TTF and it is not likely to be found in joinery quality in any reasonable quantity. However, small quantities have been exported from France in square edged boards 25 – 75mm thick and 2.0m and upward in length.The veneer is available usually crown cut. Some planning is necessary if the material is required for a large scheme.
Timber Cuts: Sweet Chestnut is used in furniture making and for gates and church work. It seems to be favoured for use where short lengths are used, possibly because of the tendency for the wood to contain spiral growth and splits. The wood has good natural durability, which makes it suitable for exterior work and fencing.
Veneer Cuts: Sweet Chestnut veneer is usually produced from selected logs in which controversial features are either not present or are limited. The overall appearance is usually plain, however figured stocks can be obtained periodically. Veneer logs can be up to 1 .5m in girth and yield a large quantity of veneer. Even so it is wise to plan ahead if the objective is to get a uniform appearance within areas of a large job.
Relative Costs: 3
Properties: As with Oak, the wood will stain when in contact with iron. The wood is easy to work and takes stain and polish well.
Seasoning: The wood is regarded as difficult to dry.