What is Sycamore?

Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) occur natively throughout the United States. As with most hardwoods, it often develops to a considerable height with a solid trunk. However, manufacturers in the timber business rarely use Sycamore in their products.


This is why many individuals, particularly those who own these trees, wonder if they can be beneficial in any way.


Due to the large diameter and height that Sycamore trees often acquire, they consistently provide one of the best logs available. Due to the large size of the logs, they are perfect for a variety of woodworking applications. They have historically been employed in the manufacture of furniture, furniture components, molding, and joinery panels.


To further address the preceding topic, we will go through each and every aspect of Sycamore wood in detail.


Sycamore’s Characteristics


Color

The hues range from pale tan to orange brown.

Density

At 7% MC, American sycamore averages 31 pounds per cubic foot.

Cost

Generally affordable, though Sycamore is frequently supplied in quartersawn boards, which adds to the cost.

Common Uses

Veneer, plywood,  interior trim, pallets/crates, flooring, furniture, particleboard, paper (pulpwood), tool handles, and other turned objects



Frequently Asked Questions


What’s in a name?

Sycamore is botanically known as Acer pseudoplantanus, but it is also referred to as Great Maple, European Sycamore, Sycamore Plane, and Sycamore Maple. Confused? Because Sycamore and Maple are both Acers and have similar characteristics and appearance, and Plane (Platanus) has similar characteristics and appearance as a tree, it's understandable that they've all been confused for one another in the past. For us woodworkers, they're actually three rather distinct species of wood, which means more options for you if you're a furniture manufacturer, an interior designer, or a professional joiner!


Is Sycamore Softwood or Hardwood?

American Sycamore is called by a variety of different names, depending on where you live. If you're familiar with American planes, such as Water Beech, Buttonwood, Virginia Maple, or Ghost Tree, this is the same thing.


While Sycamore is found throughout the United States, it is most prevalent in the eastern region of the country, particularly the Mississippi River Valley.

The trees are hardy zones 4–10 and flourish in full sun and well-drained soil. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).


The American Sycamore can reach a height of more than 100 feet and has an average diameter of 3 to 8 feet. The tree has a tight texture and interlocking grain and is moderately strong and hefty.


Having said that, the American Sycamore is one of the most perplexing trees on the planet.


America, according to our expertise, is a somewhat hard hardwood. According to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), America Sycamore grows to enormous proportions and is one of the largest hardwood species found in North America.


What grain and color is Sycamore wood?

Sycamore sapwood is pale to creamy white tan in color, with a deeper reddish-brown (nearly orange-brown) heartwood stripe. Sycamore also has a freckled appearance due to the presence of prominent ray specks on quarter sawn boards.


Its interconnecting grain imparts a beautiful, uniform texture comparable to that of Maple. Numerous small to medium pores, as well as single pores in radial multiples and clusters, characterized the end grain. Tyloses are found on occasion.


How Workable is Sycamore Wood?


Sycamore solid wood is easily worked using standard hand or power tools. However, as you might anticipate with interlocking grain, surface and machine operation can occasionally be challenging.


Sycamore, in general, splits easily and finishes well. Additionally, it turns and glues quite easily, especially if the surface is freshly prepared and flat. The wood does not exhibit a poor response to steam bending.


Having said that, its greatest strength is its adaptability. If you've dealt with Norway maple or Field Maple, you'll find that Sycamore is comparable in terms of workability.


How Much Does Sycamore Wood Cost?


Sycamore is frequently disregarded by lumber makers, and as a result, it is in short supply.


As a result, it is still rather inexpensive at the moment. Though we anticipate that will change in the near future as the majority of people become aware of its benefits and strengths. 


Sycamore wood is much more affordable in the eastern region, particularly Mississippi, due to its availability. To maximize the value of the wood, Sycamore is typically offered in quarter sawn boards, which boosts the price, but also the materials dimensional stability, its ability to resist shrinking, warping and cupping. .


Is Sycamore Wood Good for Carving?


While sycamore is sometimes neglected and undervalued, there is something remarkable about this wood. Sycamore creates a dense, sturdy wood with a slight shine and smooth texture that makes it an excellent choice for wood carving.


Sycamore is one of the most beautiful woods when polished, with a glossy and silky appearance.


When carving with attractive wood, there may be an added incentive to create a well-made, finished item. However, the beauty of the wood is irrelevant when it comes to wood carving.


Is Sycamore Good for Firewood?


To be quite candid, Sycamore is a relatively low-grade firewood. It produces a relatively small amount of heat per cord of seasoned wood, 24.1 million BTUs. This is significantly less than other hardwoods such as Oak and Hickory. Sycamore emits a moderate amount of smoke and is tough to split.


However, burning Sycamore is completely harmless, and if you have one, you can just use it as firewood. It is not superior firewood to the majority of hardwoods, but that does not mean it is wholly unsuitable for firewood.


How Do You Season Sycamore Firewood?


All firewood should be seasoned prior to burning it to reduce the moisture level. Seasoning promotes the evaporation of water within the wood, resulting in a more efficient and safe burn.


Sycamore is not your standard firewood, and as a result, it takes time to season and dry. Split the Sycamore wood and allow it to cure for a year or more.


Does Sycamore Produce Coal?


When any type of wood is burned, coal is produced. The quality of the coal it generates has a significant effect on the duration of the fire.


Sycamores have a rather strong coaling ability. However, the coals created by this wood are not as large as those produced by cherry and elm.


Sycamore wood burns more quickly than most hardwoods, and as a result, its coaling ability is not as outstanding as that of most hardwoods.


With that stated, if you want a more robust coal, you should combine it with other robust woods such as Cherry.


Is Sycamore Wood Toxic?

Each type of wood is related to common health risks, such as allergies. Apart from this typical health concern, no other adverse reaction to sycamore wood has been reported.


The wood is non-toxic, and you should have no fear of handling or consuming it.


Conclusion


The fact that producers in the timber sector rarely consider Sycamore does not mean it should be neglected.


When handled properly, it is an outstanding tree species option. If you have a sycamore tree in your yard, we are delighted you now understand its worth.



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