Wood Properties of Sassafras

Wood Properties of Sassafras

SASSAFRAS, also called Ague Tree, (species Sassafras albidum), North American tree of the laurel family (Lauraceae), the aromatic leaf, bark, and root of which are used as a flavoring, as a traditional home medicine, and as a tea.  The roots yield about 2 percent oil of sassafras, once the characteristic ingredient of root beer.

The tree is native to sandy soils from Maine to Ontario and Iowa and south to Florida and Texas.  It is usually small but may attain a height of 65 feet (20 m)  or more.  It has furrowed bark, bright green twigs, and small clusters of yellow flowers followed by dark blue berries.  Sassafras has three distinctive forms of leaves, often on the same twig: three-lobed, two-lobed (or mitten-shaped), and entire.

Sassafras, one of the few economically important genera of the family, has two species in eastern Asia and one in eastern North America; oil of sassafras was once used medicinally, and Native Americans made a tea from the bark and twigs.  The family is of great importance in the tropics for its valuable lumber, derived from many different species.  Some of the wood remains fragrant for decades after it is cut.

Reader’s Comments

I received two very kind comments from my friends, Danial Sloane and Bill MacDougall last week that I want to share:

1.  “Another great chatter Bob I will be putting the report on oils and such in my storage folder for reference. Enjoy your break all the best to you and your family….Danial”

2.  “Bob, great job on these articles, thanks for all the extra work you do for us carvers out here in the real world, love all your work too!

Bill MacDougall Amherst, New York”

Thank you for your thoughtful words, Danial and Bill.  They mean so much, and I’m always happy to hear that my readers are enjoying Wood Chip Chatter and finding it helpful.

I received a question from Rick about how to make glasses for caricatures.  Rick writes:

“Hi Bob,

I don’t see eye glasses included very often on characters but I have some I would like to try that all need eye glasses and not sure how to approach this.  I would greatly appreciate any ideas.

Attached are a couple of Peter Rabbit pics following Doug Linkers recent video.  A fun carve. 


Rick Carver”

Rick’s Peter Rabbit

That was a good video Doug did on carving the Easter rabbit and you did a terrific of carving yours, Rick!  A pair of glasses would look great on him but you’re right, you don’t often find carvers adding glasses to their caricatures.  I did an article for WCI a while back that showed how to make glasses.  I’ll pull some information from my notes and put it in the next blog.  I’m sure a lot of folks would like to know how it’s done. 

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

Our first two entries to the Photo Shop this week come from Kathy Savage, an excellent carver who sent in photos of the fireman she carved for her nephew.  She saw it in a book and thought he would like it.  I’m sure he did!

Kathy’s second carving is a terrific mama fox with her pup, which was a graduation gift for another nephew.  I think I would like to be one of Kathy’s nephews!

Kathy’s Fox and Pup

Our next two entries come from Terry Grimm.  Terry just finished this Easter decoration and has sent in some Work-In-Progress (WIP) photos along with his finished carving:

Peter Rabbit came out very dapper looking. Nice job, and thanks for the WIP photos.

Terry’s next entry is a comical fisherman caricature he calls “Gone Fishing.”

Terry’s “Gone Fishing”

Thank you very much to Kathy Savage and Terry Grimm for your entries to the Photo Shop this week.  Photo Shop photos are always greatly appreciated.

News & Announcements

Lancaster County Woodcarvers Zoom Meeting

(Informal meeting – Open to all)

Tuesday, May 3th, 2022 at 7PM

Zoom meeting: 417 966 8402

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575


4/30 – Open Forum Meeting

5/7 – Ken Kuhar

5/14 – Dana Kababik – Carving Junkies

5/21 – Dillon Goodson

NOTE:  Beginning in June, through August meetings will be held only once per month.  These will still be live presentations or demonstrations.  The dates for these meetings are yet to be announced.



Keep a sharp edge, and keep on carvin’!

Funny Bone

Whatever you do, always give 100%. 

Unless you’re giving blood.

Published by carverbobk

I’m a self taught award winning wood carver who has been carving since I was a teenager. I enjoy instructing other carvers, especially beginners.

4 thoughts on “Wood Properties of Sassafras

  1. Correction on the International Association of Wood Carvers meetings in June through August. These will be live presentations or demonstrations. The only open forum meeting we have scheduled so far is this coming weekend. See you all then!


  2. Hey Bob,  I’m away from carving for awhile as my wife has been hospitalized for the last 2 weeks and my time is being spent at the hospital. She seems to be past the danger now and hopefully on the mend. The next few days will determine her recovery. Keep up with your fantastic Wood Chip Chatter and hope to be back carving in the next few weeks or however long it takes to get this health issue resolved.  TC. Jim Shay

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone


  3. Thanks for keeping in touch, Jim. I’m terribly sorry to hear about your wife’s health issues and certainly understand how life can often get in the way of our carving time. Please know that I am praying for your wife’s full and speedy recovery…Bob K.


  4. I would like to add that Carving Magazine issued #2, on the cover and inside is the photo gallery and artist profile by Mar v K a i s e r s a t t , it is a character carving of a man doing old fashioned photography but he does have glasses on which is kind of interesting. I do love reading Wood Chip Chatter. I do have a question about the sassafras wood. How does it look when it’s finished and can you carve it.

    Connie Teeters, Deland Fl.


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