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HORNBEAM

Carpinus spp.

Carpinus spp. of the family Betulaceae (the birch family), including (but definitely not limited to) the following

Carpinus betulus --- European hornbean
Carpinus caroliniana --- American hornbeam, water hornbeam
Carpinus carpinoides --- Japanese hornbeam
Carpinus caucasica --- European hornbeam
Carpinus cordata --- Asian hornbeam
Carpinus japonica—Japanese Hornbeam
Carpinus laxiflora --- Japanese hornbeam
Carpinus orientalis --- Eastern European hornbeam, Asian hornbeam, Oriental hornbeam
Carpinus polyneura --- Chinese hornbeam
Carpinus tschonoskii --- Korean hornbeam

Like its close relative hophornbeam, this wood is very hard and tough (hophornbeam is a bit more so) and it is also (like hophornbeam) known as ironwood in the USA. Ironwood is one of the most useless common names in existence in terms of actually identifying a wood --- I have what I'm sure is an incomplete list and it shows 180+ different species that have ironwood as one of their common names.

Anyway, hornbeam IS very hard and is rarely used for items such as furniture because it's difficult to work. It is used a lot for things like tool handles and mallets where its strength and hardness are virtues.

my samples:


both sides of a sample plank of American hornbeam / Carpinus caroliniana --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of hornbeam / Carpinus caroliniana --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of European hornbeam / Carpinus betulus --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The labeled side is raw but the 2nd side has been sanded to 240 grit and so shows the face grain detail better


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above



all 4 faces of a small stick of Japanese hornbeam / Carpinus japonica --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above


small piece contributed by Iain Rankin, whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site


also provided by Iain Rankin, this is a pic of a spindle gouge handle he turned for an antique Sorby tool.


The Wood Book pics


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for all 3 views

web pics:


log ends showing how the heartwood is often not much darker than the sapwood and the boundary between the two is vague.


plank listed as European hornbeam / Carpinus betulus and that has wet and dry sections


planks


planks which, because of the relatively dark heartwood, Mark Peet suggests might be hophornbeam


plank listed as hornbeam but based on the color I'm dubious; this is probably hophornbeam


plank listed as European hornbeam / Carpinus betulus


planks and a closeup listed as German hornbeam / Carpinus betulus


planks and turning stock listed as German hornbeam / Carpinus betulus


spalted German hornbeam / Carpinus betulus


turning stock


listed as "flame" hornbeam, I'm not sure, but I believe this is an end grain shot


veneer, flat cut and quartersawn


veneer


drumstick --- the high strength of this wood makes it ideal for such uses


two pics of a split European hornbeam log; pics contributed by Jacopo Cioppi, whom I thank.


natural edge hornbeam pedestal bowl


American hornbeam bowl turned and photographed by Tom Pleatman, whom I thank for this pics and other contributions to the site. Big enlargements are present. Like the blue-background planks up above, Mark Peet suggests that this bowl is very likely not hornbeam at all but rather hophornbeam (this is based on the dark heartwood).


pen turned from Korean hornbeam / Carpinus tschonowskii. Photograph contributed to the site by the pen turner, Bruce Selyem, whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The pen is finished with shellwax.