Color/Appearance:Heartwood is a medium to light brown, sometimes with an orange or olive hue. Color tends to darken with age. Sapwood is a paler yellowish brown, though it isn’t always clearly demarcated from the heartwood. Overall, Sassafras bears a strong resemblance toash(Fraxinus spp.) andchestnut(Castanea spp.).
Endgrain:Ring-porous; large earlywood pores 3-6 rows wide, small latewood pores solitary and radial multiples of 2-4; tyloses common; growth rings distinct; narrow rays may be barely visible without lens, spacing normal; parenchyma around latewood pores vasicentric, winged, lozenge, and confluent.
Workability:Easy to work with both hand and machine tools. Sassafras also has good dimensional stability once dry. Glues, stains, and finishes well.
Odor:Sassafras has a distinct, spicy scent while being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity:Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Sassafras has been reported as asensitizer. Usually most common reactions include nausea and respiratory effects. Oil extracted from the roots and wood of Sassafras has been shown to be toxic and weakly carcinogenic if ingested. See the articlesWood Allergies and ToxicityandWood Dust Safetyfor more information.
Pricing/Availability:Sassafras trees are generally too small to be commercially viable on a large scale, but limited quantities of lumber and turning blanks are available for a modest price.
Sustainability:This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Utility lumber, fence posts, boatbuilding, and furniture.