WOOD EXPLORER by Gene Wengert firstname.lastname@example.org
TGiant chinkapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla), sometimes called golden-leafed chinquapin and golden- leafed chestnut because of the minute golden scales on the leaf bottom, is a western hardwood and an evergreen. It grows in coastal mountain
ranges from southwestern Washington to central
California at elevations of 0 to 6,000 feet. It also
occurs inland in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of
Central California. The tree is able to withstand
months of low rainfall. Giant chinkapin is the only
commercial chinkapin in North America.
Long-lived; 400 to 500 year-old chinkapin
trees can be 115 feet tall; however, most trees are
around 100 years old and 80 to 90 feet in height.
Chinkapin is scattered throughout its range;
that is, pure stands of this species are rare. Because
the trees are not concentrated and because
chinkapin is not too plentiful, it has not been
widely sought after for sawing into lumber. Yet it is
an exquisite wood suitable for high end cabinetry,
furniture and paneling. In the 19th and early 20th
century, this wood was used primarily for heating
and cooking (campfires) - what a shame indeed.
Those living outside of the Pacific Coast have
probably missed the potential of this wood.
The tree also produces an edible nut. The
flowers (both male and female flowers on the
same plant = monoecious) and nuts seldom appear
before the tree is 40 to 50 years old. The nuts
ripen the second autumn after pollination. ;
Density. Density is 33 pounds per cubic
foot. This is roughly 2/3 of the weight of oak.
Drying. Chinkapin is probably the most
difficult North American species to dry. Collapse,
checking, and subsequent honeycomb, is likely.
Shrinkage in drying is 7 percent in width.
Gluing and Machining. It has excellent
gluing and very good machining properties.
Stability. When humidity changes, a one
percent size change occurs with a 4 percent MC
change in the tangential direction (parallel to the
annual rings) and 6-1/2 percent MC change in the
radial direction (perpendicular to the rings).
Strength. Strength (MOR) is 10,700 psi, the
stiffness (MOE) is 1. 24 million psi, and the hardness is
Color and Grain. The sapwood is pale
brown with a pinkish tinge. The heartwood is pale
reddish brown or light brown with pinkish stripes
or cast. Grain is fairly straight. The wood has large
pores in the earlywood portion of each growth ring,
similar to oak. Filling prior to top coating may be
necessary with semi-glossy and glossy finishes. There
is no distinctive odor or taste.
Markets. Chinkapin is used mainly for fine
furniture, cabinets, paneling, doors, and firewood.
Unfortunately, wood manufacturers and users outside
of California and Oregon seldom know about this
wood and its beauty. Marketing the lumber outside
of that region will be difficult. Some educational
efforts will be required to awaken most
manufacturers to this wood. Exotic woods like
chinquapin do sell on the Internet at times.
foot. This is roughly 2/3 of the weight of oak. Giant Chinkapin
Exquisite, but little known
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