American gum

Liquidambar styraciflua

General Description

The sapwood of American gum tends to be wide and is white to light pink, while the heartwood is reddish brown, often with darker streaks. The wood has irregular grain, usually interlocked, which produces an attractive grain figure. It has a fine uniform texture.

Other Common names

Redgum, sapgum, sweetgum

Distribution & Availability

The gums are an important part of the Eastern hardwood forests, and are found throughout the South Eastern USA. Excellent availability as lumber and veneer in a wide range of grades and specifications. When sorted for colour, redgum (majority heartwood) is more limited in its availability.

Case Studies

Hartmann Beelen furniture

Hartmann Beelen furniture

The Cando range in American gum by German manufacturer Hartmann Beelen is a stunning example of excellent design and craftsmanship.

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View Physical & Mechanical Properties

Physical & Mechanical Properties

American gum is moderately hard, stiff and heavy and has a low steam bending classification.

American gum - Physical & Mechanical Properties

Specific Gravity (12% M.C.):0.52
Average Weight (12% M.C.):545 kg/m3
Average Volume Shrinkage (Green to 6% M.C.):12%
Modulus of Rupture:86.188 MPa
Modulus of Elasticity:11,308 MPa
Compressive strength (parallel to grain):
43.576 MPa
Hardness:3781 N
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Working Properties

The wood is easy to work, with both hand and machine tools. It nails, screws and glues well, takes stain easily and can be sanded and polished to an excellent finish. It dries rapidly with a strong tendency to warp and twist. It has a large shrinkage, and is liable to movement in performance.

American gum - Working Properties

SawingGood
PlaningGood
DrillingGood
BoringGood
TurningGood
Carving
Good
Moulding
Good
Nailing
Good
Screwing
Good
Gluing
Good
Finishing
Excellent
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View Main Uses

Main Uses

Cabinet making, furniture parts, doors, internal joinery, strips and mouldings. Used in some export markets with stained finishes as a walnut or mahogany substitute.

American gum - Main Uses

Doors
Flooring
Furniture
Joinery
Kitchen cabinets
Mouldings and
turnings
Veneered panels
Sports goods

Tool handles

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Other Information

Lumber is often sold as sapgum and no colour specification is required. According to the NHLA grading standards, when sold as redgum, each clear cutting is required to have one red (heartwood) face.

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