Lexicon DIY-Knowledge


Red or copper beech (fagus sylvatica) is found from central to south-east Europe. In Germany, it is the most frequently found deciduous tree. Red beech, commonly just called beech (fagus sylvatica), is often confused with common beech, also called hornbeam or ironwood. These trees, however, belong to other botanic families and strongly differ in their technical properties from the red beech. At the age of 120 years, the red beech has grown to a height of 25-30 m. Here we have a typical heliophobous or shade tree species. Beech trees prefer chalky, crumbly soils and regions with relatively high humidity. They are sensitive against extreme cold, aridity and heat.

Beech trees grow alone, in groups or in forest systems. Many beech trees growing together form a typical type of forest, the so-called beech hall forest. The dense foliage of the trees only allows enough light to penetrate to the forest floor in spring which only allows some early blooming species to grow there. As the year goes on, the forest is virtually bereft of blooming flowers or undergrowth.
The bark changes its colour from grey-green on younger trees to silver-grey on older trees, however it remains smooth and thin throughout the tree?s life span. It surrounds sap and heartwood which are hard to distinguish since they both have a pale yellow to red hue. The red hue can be intensified by steaming. Red beech wood is very tough, heavy and hard. Although it has little staying power or elasticity, its resistance against pressure and abrasion are good. Beech wood shrinks heavily. When exposed to moisture, it is not consistent in form and joints, but it is easily impregnated. Beech can be well polished, stained, coloured and steamed. Generally, it can be easily processed. In contact with iron the wood tends to show signs of oxidation which hinders cement bonding.
The natural resistance of beech wood is low, especially when exposed to moisture, but it can be easily impregnated.
In Europe, beech is the most frequently used structural and industrial timber.
As veneer, it can be used for many different purposes, for example as peeled veneer on plywood boards (moulded plywood), particularly for compregnated plywood (moulded plywood, sometimes plastic-coated) and as sliced veneer on doors.
As solid wood it is used to make sturdy utility furniture, staircases, parquetry and workbenches and also for tool parts and toys.
A substantial amount of beech wood goes into the production of chip and fibre boards and also of paper. It also has excellent properties as firewood.