Is sycamore wood valuable, and where can it be used?

Is sycamore wood valuable and where can it be used WOOD BLOG

Is sycamore wood valuable? Sycamore is a truly interesting and somewhat confusing tree; it has several names among people, several uses, and a relatively low price compared to other woods.

Is sycamore wood valuable, and where can it be used?
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What tree do we call sycamore?

The sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis) is called many names, depending on the region. It is called American sycamore, Eastern sycamore, buttonwood tree (massive ones), American plane, American planetree, and more.

Sometimes, it can get confused with Acer pseudoplatanus, which is called European sycamore, Planetree maple, Great maple, and Sycamore maple.

The article talks in detail about American sycamore.

Short general information

The American sycamore tree is one of the largest hardwood species and grows throughout the United States; it is native to North America and can be found in the eastern and central parts of the continent and the Mississippi River valley.

American Hardwood Export Council has a dedicated page for sycamore; there, you can find all the information about the tree and see the forest volume map.

The stem color of sycamore differs from orange-brown to a darker reddish brown color of other hardwoods.

The ash-grey bark peels off in large patches, exposing light sapwood; it is one of the sycamore’s most recognizable traits and gave the sycamore “ghost tree” name.

The sycamore wood has light to medium brown colors, creamy white tan, and interlocking grain, giving the wood attractive patterns.

Also, it has a uniform and refined texture and freckled appearance, medium pores, and sometimes, reddish hue; there could be occasional orange-brown highlights.

Sycamore is not good in steam bending and is generally sold in quartersawn boards.

Is sycamore softwood or hardwood?

Sycamore is considered hardwood; sycamore wood cost depends on the quality, market demand, and regional availability. It is best to contact the local suppliers to know the exact prices.

What makes sycamore wood valuable?

Sycamore has various applications, including furniture, flooring, and landscaping.

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Now, let’s focus on where it is used.

Wood carving

Is sycamore wood good for carving? It is great!

Firstly, it is softer than hardwood like oak; it has a uniform texture, consistent grain pattern, light color, and is easy to stain and paint.

Its interlocking grain creates visually attractive results. However, the same interlocking grain may cause machine operation and splitting difficulties.

Sycamore wood is one of the more robust woods, especially when dried. It can be its strength, as it holds fine details for a long time, but it also can be challenging to work with.

It can deform and warp during drying, so ensure the wood is seasoned before starting your work.

Sycamore wood is versatile and can be used for many projects: decorative items, furniture details, small sculptures, and relief carvings.

It is suitable for spoon carving.

Sycamore is good for making decorative bowls as well.

Furniture and timber industry

Sycamore is sold in quarter-sawn boards, which adds up to its price. Sycamore is used in many parts of interior design. If you wish to use it outside, it is crucial to protect it well, as sycamore is generally not that durable.

What is sycamore wood good for in the lumber industry?

Sycamore is used in cabinetry, fine furniture, instruments and instrument box making, automotive interior, flooring, tool handles, inlaying, paneling, etc.

Lumber grades get Common 1 & 2, FAS, Select and Better, and Premium, depending on the quarter-sawn boards and their quality, grain orientation, and other features.

The price depends on many factors and can go from 6$ to 13$ per BF (board foot) depending on BF’s grade.

Firewood quality

Sycamore can be used as firewood. Is sycamore wood toxic? No, it does not produce toxic smoke or, in any way, can harm your health. Of course, as with any other firewood, its smoke can cause allergies.

It does not have a strong aroma and does not pop much. However, it can be challenging for splitting because of its twisted fibers.

Seasoned sycamore firewood generally exhibits poor burning qualities, especially in comparison with hardwoods like oak.

A cord of sycamore wood releases only 19.5 million BTUs (British thermal unit), a low indicator. For context, apple’s indicator is 27 million BTUs, and white oak is 29.1 million BTUs.

Coaling abilities

Does sycamore produce coal? It shows better coaling abilities. Hardwoods like sycamore seasoned wood do produce coal, but it won’t be enough to keep your place warm for long because sycamore wood burns quickly.

It is preferred to burn sycamore with another slowly burning type of wood, for example, hickory or maple.

How to season sycamore firewood?

Seasoning wood means drying wood entirely so it is suitable for further use. Consequences of not properly seasoning your firewood include difficulties with starting the fire, foul odor and smoke, reduced heat output, and more creosote buildup.

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Sycamore is relatively easy and quick to season. You must split logs into smaller parts to increase surface area, cover them from rain and snow, and ensure airflow.

The length of the seasoning process depends heavily on the size of the logs and the weather; it can take anywhere between six and twelve months.


American sycamore wood is valuable but may lack exceptional durability and stability. Grain can seem plain, but it is easy to stain, glue, and work with and make beautiful interior design elements.

Sycamore is easier to use in wood carving because it is softer than other hardwoods. Sycamore also can be used as firewood.

Despite being inexpensive, sycamore has many uses and can be considered a valuable hardwood species.


Is sycamore wood good for anything?

It has many uses, and even if it’s inexpensive, that does not mean it is not suitable for anything. It is used in wood carving, interior trim, and landscaping.

Why is sycamore not used for woodworking?

Sycamore is used in the lumber industry. It is not widely used or popular, but it has several uses. Reasons for its limited use include softness compared to hardwoods like oak, variable wood quality (as defects like discoloration and mineral streaks can be common), and lack of natural resistance against insects.

Do sycamore trees make good lumber?

American sycamore wood makes average lumber; it has moderate durability and a pleasing texture to work with. Well-seasoned sycamore wood exhibits good stability as it is not brittle or easy to twist.
It is soft hardwood and may not be suitable for projects that require a lot of durability and stability. Ultimately, it all depends on the specific requirements of a project.

What is the quality of sycamore wood?

Sycamore wood has rather bad firewood qualities; it is better at producing coal. It is considered to be an average quality in the woodworking industry. Wood’s quality depends on tree health, growing environment, inherent characteristics, and more.

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Hello to all lovers of wood products. I have been fond of woodcarving since childhood. I first learned about it at a children’s camp at the age of 12, and since then it has been my hobby. I organized a wood carving club in my area and often meet there with like-minded people. I dream of selling my products as souvenirs and gifts.

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