Elm is a coarse grained hardwood which is moderately hard and very tough – good at resisting splitting under stress so useful for items like chairs where great strength is needed in small sections and joints cut close to ends of boards but commonly used for all kinds of furniture as it has such a warm homely glow to it; it will split readily when it is seasoning so is sometimes presented with some of these splits retained as character, which are normally tied with butterfly keys etc.
It has large movement in service – ie it warps quite a lot when subjected to damp or excessively hot and dry conditions. Use for normal furniture and diy projects in a normal central heated home. Some, but not excessive, movement and shrinkage might be noticed if used for fireplace mantels over hot woodburners.
It is not the easiest to plane but cuts, sands and polishes easily. Some elm with interlocked grain will tear quite badly when planed, so sharp tools and/or extra sanding is sometimes necessary. The close-up pictures of our planed board products should show if there are a lot of deep tears to be sanded out.
Some elm (usually Wych Elm) has green streaks or bands, sometimes subtle, sometimes very strongly marked. Colour varies but is always rich and warm. Standing dead elm trees for many years before sawmilling and seasoning will have lost some strength and richness of colour but will be more stable under moisture content changes. Danish Oil is a good polish to bring out the true rich colours.