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London Plane

Other names:

London plane, English plane, French plane, etc. according to origin (UK); quartered timber known in the trade as lacewood.

Distribution:

Europe including the UK (oriental plane) S.E. Europe and West Asia.

General description:

The heartwood is light reddish-brown with very conspicuous and numerous broad rays present on quartered material, which show against the light coloured background as a decorative fleck figure. The timber is straight grains with a fine to medium texture. Some logs are much lighter in colour, pale pinkish-brown, with a small, irregular, darker coloured core. Weight about 620 kg/m3 (39  1b/ft3); specific gravity .62.

Mechanical properties:

Plane has medium strength in most categories and low stiffness, making it a very good steam bending timber.

Seasoning:

Dries fairly rapidly without much splitting but with a tendency to distort. There is small movement in service.

Working properties:

Works well with hand and machine tools, but there is a moderate blunting effect on cutters and a tendency to bind on saws. The timber glues well whilst it also stains and polishes with care to an excellent finish.

Durability:

Perishable. The sapwood is liable to attack by the common furniture beetle, but is permeable for preservation treatment.

Uses:

Furniture and cabinetmaking, joinery, light construction and panelling. It is an excellent turnery timber for fancy and decorative items. Selected logs are cut to produce lacewood, the highly decorative flecked surface ideal for panelling and cabinet interiors, desks, etc. Plane and lacewood are treated chemically to produce a form of hardwood. In this, the background colour turns silver grey and this is used for marquetry work.