Botanical Name: Ilex opaca
Other Common Names: Evergreen Holly, White Holly, Christmas Holly, and Dune Holly
Uses: Turnery, carving, piano and organ keys, marquetry and inlay, wood block engravings, novelties, fixtures, handles, scroll work, and furniture
Distribution: American holly grows from Massachusettes, Connecticut and New York, southwest to Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma, south to Texas and east to Florida.
General Characteristics: The holly tree has spiny evergreen leaves and red berries on the female trees. The bark is thick and relatively smooth with rough wart like processes. They can reach a height from 50 feet with a 2 foot diameter. When milled, the sapwood is white and the heartwood is an ivory white with a bluish cast or streaks. It has no characteristic odor or taste and is heavy, hard, close grained and tough, with a low luster like ivory.
Working Properties: Holly can
be moderate to difficult to machine. It glues and screws well,
but drilling should be done slowly. It sands and turns easily
and polishes to a nice luster. It takes a stain well and can
The recommended procedure is the application of a light coat, brief joining of the pieces, separating the pieces and allowing the glue to partially set, and then rejoining the pieces. The wood is reported to be generally easy to sand, but extra attention should be paid to the grits to avoid having them leave scratches that are very difficult to remove. The wood has good finishing and polishing characteristics.
Durability: Holly is susceptible to fungal attack.
Modules of Elasticity:
Maximum Crushing Strength:
Drying and Shrinkage:
Holly generally discolors when seasoned slowly. It is best cut in winter and dried quickly. It is fairly difficult to dry and has a tendency to warp and cup during kiln drying.