Sassafras

Available in two major groupings – Golden and Blackheart – makes an attractive veneer or laminated board, as a solid with knots and figure for furniture, panelling and moulding. Blackheart is prized for decorative work and turning.

Of all Tasmanian timbers, sassafras has the most variable and dynamic colouring. It is a beautiful and pale creamy grey to white normally but can be streaked with rich browns and black heart. So, it is available in two major groupings; Golden sassafras and Blackheart sassafras.

Finishing to a grey and golden tone, golden sassafras is particularly attractive as a veneer or as a solid timber with knots providing figure. If the tree is infected with a staining fungus it produces Blackheart sassafras. Blackheart is a timber with distinctive dark brown, black, and even green streaks running through the wood. Blackheart is highly prized for decorative work and bowl turning as no two pieces are ever the same.

Sassafras is versatile. While the wood is light and strong, it is rather soft and easily worked. Renowned in furniture use as a solid, a veneer, or as a laminated board, sassafras is used for panelling, mouldings, joinery, veneers, cabinet making and turnery.

Sassafras Products & Applications

Quality assured Sassafras products are available from these suppliers:

The Tasmanian Timber Quality Assurance Program assesses nominated products for Australian Standards compliance through a quarterly mill audit. Buyers can trust that the guaranteed products from our suppliers come from a company that employs sustainable practices, holds Chain-of-Custody, and Responsible Wood accreditation.

Sassafras Properties

Atherosperma moschatum

For further information click tables marked  

Availability & Appearance
General Availability
Availability is limited, and constrained by location and style of harvesting operations.
Appearance Grade
Available
Plantation
Not available
Structural Grade
Not available
Veneer
Limited (mainly decorative thicknesses)
Sizes
Sassafras is usually available in seasoned. Undressed squares are available up to 75 mm. Most production is of lengths less than 1.8 m.
Colour
The sapwood of Sassafras is white or greyish, the heartwood can be similarly pale or stained black (“blackheart”).
Grain
Grain is fairly straight, even and smooth.
Texture
Fine and uniform.
Density  
Unseasoned
Seasoned
Density (per standard)
910 kg/m3
590 kg/m3
Durability  
Above-Ground
0-5 yrs
In-Ground
0-7 yrs
Susceptible to Lyctid Borer
No
Marine Borer Resistance
0-20 yrs (usually 5 yrs)
Termite Resistant
No
Environmental Details
Resource
Native - Rainforest
Reserves
82% of total Sassafras forest types are reserved.
Certification
Available
Chain of Custody
Available
Carbon Storage
264 kg/m3
R Values
0.65 (100mm)
Fire Properties  
Average Specific Extinction Area
< 250 m2/kg
Bushfire Resistance
BAL-12.5 & 19 – All AS3959 required applications
Critical Radiance Flux - Higher
kW/m2
Critical Radiance Flux - Lower
kW/m2
Smoke Development Rate
% per min
EFH Ignitibility: 1
EFH Smoke-Develop Index: 1
EFH Spread-of-Flame Index: 1
Fire Properties Group Number: 3
Joint  
Unseasoned
Seasoned
Joint Group
J3
JD4
Mechanical Properties  
Unseasoned
Seasoned
Hardness (Janka)
2.1 kN
3.4 kN
Impact
10 J
9 J
Maximum Crushing Strength
30 MPa
50 MPa
Modulus of Elasticity (MOE)
10 GPa
12 GPa
Modulus of Rupture (MOR)
55 MPa
85 MPa
Toughness (IZOD)
Low - up to 15 Nm
Low - up to 15 Nm
Movement  
Radial
0.18% per 1% MC change
Tangential
0.34% per 1% MC change
Shrinkage  
Radial
2.2%
Tangential
5.8%
Stress  
Unseasoned
Seasoned
Common Structural Grades
Not Available
Not Available
Structural Grades
S1:F11, S2:F8, S3:F7, S4:F5, S5:F4
S1:F17, S2:F14, S3:F11, S4:F8, S5:F7
Strength  
Unseasoned
Seasoned
Strength Group
S5
SD5
Workability
General Workability
Works easily and cleanly, and is well suited for turning. It is an excellent bending timber, and has a low tendency to split.
Bending
An excellent bending timber. 25mm material bends well to a radius of 75mm.
Blunting
Moderate
Boring
Easy to drill. Holes are clean and to size.
Finishing
Readily worked to a smooth, lustrous surface. Most finishes adhere very well. Dark stains tend to look "blotchy".
Gluing
Glues satisfactorily with most common adhesives.
Moulding
Produces good mouldings.
Nailing
All nail holes must be pre-drilled.
Planing
Moderate feeding forces required.
Rebating + Mortising
Generally produces good results.
Sawing
Cuts cleanly and accurately with standard blades. Rip-sawing requires high feeding forces and low feed rates.
Turning
Turns very well.

Sources: Centre for Sustainable Architecture with Wood (CSAW), Wood Solutions

The Tasmanian Timber Expert Helpline is a free service operated by the Centre for Sustainable Architecture with Wood at the University of Tasmania; providing advice on choosing the right timber, obtaining quotes from suppliers, and troubleshooting problems.

Call the Helpline 1300 041 766

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