American Beech

Scientific Name:

Fagus grandifolia

Other Names and Species:

American beech

The European beech (fagus sylvatica) is widely used in furniture-making, as its light orangey-tan color, as well as its fine graining and small rays, offer a distinct contemporary look.


North America


While the sapwood is generally pale white, the heartwood of the American beech is mostly reddish brown. There is often a moderate to high color variation between boards. The grain of the wood is straight, and mostly closed, with a fine, uniform texture. This species is coarser than the European beech. Beechwood surfaces may sometimes have a silvery sheen.


Beech is frequently used in factory floors and other high-traffic areas, since it wears well and stays smooth when subjected to repeated friction. The wood is hard and elastic, with excellent shock-resistance.

Janka Hardness: 1300

American beech is thirty percent harder than teak, almost identical to red oak in hardness (under one percent), four percent softer than white oak, ten percent softer than hard maple, thirty-two percent softer than jarrah, and just over fifty-nine percent as hard as santos mahogany’s ranking of 2200.


Although beechwood is difficult to work with hand tools, it does have good machining qualities. It sands satisfactorily, and holds nails well; however, it does have a tendency to split.

Principal Uses:

Beech was once neglected as a resource because of the tendency of the wood to crack during air drying. Kiln drying is much more successful with this species, and so it has become more valuable. The wood is commonly used for domestic and commercial flooring, furniture, decorative veneers, and musical instruments.