Is Lilac Wood Good for Anything? (10 Facts With Pictures)

Lilac Wood

There are about 23 types of lilac trees. This tree should be your number one choice if you want to fill your backyard with color and scent. Lilac trees grow up to 20 feet in height and have pink flowers, which bloom in the spring.

Lilac trees come in various shapes and sizes, shrubs being among them. The tree is native to the Balkan Peninsula but is now common in North America and Europe.

You can easily spot a lilac tree by looking for light pink to white and even beautiful lavender and purple flowers.

Those are some fascinating attributes of the lilac tree. Let’s dive into lilac wood. Is lilac wood good for anything?

Traditionally, lilac wood was well-suited for engraving, making musical instruments, and knife handles. Today, woodworkers transform lilac wood into beautiful pens, bowls, and intricate carvings.

Lilac is an excellent option if you’re into woodworking because of its fine texture and excellent turning features. That’s not all. I have compiled some interesting facts about lilac wood. How about I take you through?

Is Lilac Wood Softwood or Hardwood?

Unbelievably, as delicate as lilac flowers look, lilac wood is among the harder, denser woods. Compared to white oak wood, lilac wood is twice as hard.

Lilac trees prefer zones 3-7 in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zone Map. A few warm climate lilac varieties go up to zone 8, while very few bloom well in zone 9 climates.

The green density of lilac wood is 640 kilograms per cubic meter. When air-dried, lilac wood goes down to 450 kilograms per cubic meter. This places lilac wood among middle-density woods.

Does Lilac Wood Make Good Firewood?

Lilac trees have hollow wood. The hollowness makes the wood burn quickly and is unsuitable for long-term firewood.

Before using lilac wood as firewood, ensure it is dry. Chopping the larger chunks into halves and quarters speeds up the drying process.

A drop in the moisture content allows lilac wood to burn with higher heat. Store the wood in a dry place with good circulation after drying.  

The inner branches are perfect as kindling. They are in twisted form and don’t pack together. This allows air to flow through the fire.

Does Lilac Wood Smell?

I know this question lingers in your mind, especially if you want to burn lilac wood indoors. Well, I have good news for you. Lilac wood has a scent similar to lilac flowers.

Its flowers have a strong, sweet, forward fragrance. When you burn the wood in a fireplace, it gives off a slight floral scent. Luckily, you can warm your home and give it a scent simultaneously.

Woodworkers also experience the lovely scent. Lilac wood gives off its scent when being worked. As wonderful as this scent is, wearing a mask is mandatory because of wood dust.

What is the Color and Grain of Lilac Wood?

The color of lilac wood varies according to the species from which you harvest it. The sapwood is pale, but the heartwood is reddish-brown. In some instances, the heartwood features reddish to lavender-colored streaks.

The grain on lilac wood is slightly interlocked. This type of grain is common to smaller trees and shrubs. Lilac wood is also fine in texture. Moreover, the natural oils present in the wood give it a natural luster.

I cannot fail to mention the end grain whose pores are small to medium-sized and diffuse porous. These pores are in a semi-ring arrangement.  

How Workable is Lilac Wood?

I am impressed by the way lilac wood turns. In fact, most pieces of lilac wood are too small to use as anything other than turning wood.

Because of its size, lilac wood is not commercially harvested. Therefore, you cannot turn lilac wood into furniture or cabinetry.

Sanding is necessary before applying any sealer. Also, sand between coats for better adhesion. During water-based staining, use a pre-stain wood conditioner. The natural finish of lilac wood is stunning.

However, fill up the pores using a filler of your choice to subdue them. Uncolored fillers are the best because they allow you to tint as you wish.

Is Lilac Wood Good for Smoking?

Unlike other hardwoods like oak and hickory, lilac wood is not suitable for smoking food. Lilac produces a mild and sweet smoke, which many people prefer for smoking poultry and lamb.

Unfortunately, lilac wood contains a lot of sap. Smoke from sapwood adds a weird taste to your food instead of elevating the flavor.

Is Lilac Wood Toxic?

You can relax because lilac wood is completely safe. Aside from the standard rules on wearing protective equipment such as masks when woodworking.

There are no reports of allergic reactions or irritability to the skin. Lilacs do not contain any toxins or chemicals harmful to humans and animals.

Every sample of lilac wood is different, and it does not hurt to be safe than sorry. Ensure the chimney and fireplace are not obstructed and clean when burning lilac wood indoors.

How Does Lilac Wood Dry?

When drying lilac wood, it tends to curve, twist, and split into thin sticks. This distortion makes lilac wood unsuitable for numerous uses.

Lilac wood also cracks, so it’s vital to watch how you handle it. Some people complain that their pieces cracked right after completing them.

Is it Legal to Cut Down a Lilac Tree?

Lilac trees are readily available since many people have them in their backyards or gardens. There isn’t an official listing of this tree as an endangered species. After all, fallen branches are readily accessible in areas that have lilac tress.

However, it matters which state of the United States you are in and the lilac tree species you want to cut down.

In Michigan, the wild lilac is an endangered species. There are only five occurrences in the Keweenaw Peninsula. In British Columbia, Oregon, California, Idaho, and Montana, the wild lilac species are safe for harvesting because of their high population.

How Well Can You Use Lilac Wood for Furniture?

Honestly, the small pieces of lilac wood that you can acquire are not enough to make any piece of furniture.

Although the color and grain of the wood would make perfect-looking pieces, the stability of the wood is questionable.

You don’t want your chairs and tables to crack once you finish making them. That is if your tools don’t ruin the lilac wood pieces in the first place.