Lumber Making #2: American Tulip Tree Bowl Blanks

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Blog entry by Dorje posted 2574 days ago 4587 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: A "Mini" Series - up to present Part 2 of Lumber Making series Part 3: Maple in the works... »

Today I had the good fortune of cutting up a bunch of American Tulip Tree bowl blanks. Called various things around here, such as Tulip Poplar, Tulipwood, Tulip Maple, this is supposed to be some good bowl turning material. It’s really a Magnolia family tree – I think the biggest of the Magnolias, and it ‘s called Liriodendron tulipfera. I’ve really admired these trees when I’ve come across them around town for the past few years.

I saw a craiglist post on the wood last week, didn’t get there til today, but I sure was pleased to see four very large rounds that were too heavy to be taken by the firewood hoarders (I’m one of them – just not at present). Unfortunately, the rounds were only 16-17” in length, but 29-30” in diameter! I would have liked to have them 20” or so long, just for the added insurance of getting big bowl blanks out of these. I don’t think these are going to chuck up all that well on my Jet mini lathe! But, by the time these are stable and ready to turn, I should have that bigger lathe – which one though? That’s another story. Back to the WOOD!

Here’s the truck back at home with the booty, half waxed – I think I got ten or so blanks, some of which I may divide into smaller blanks (after I took this shot, I peeled the bark off all the blanks in the process):

This chunk here is 16”x 27” – so I figure this will make a nice all heartwood bowl:

If you haven’t seen the leaves and flowers of this tree, they’re real interesting!

Here’s more info on Tulipwood, should you be interested:

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

11 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 2758 days

#1 posted 2573 days ago

We planted a Tulip Tree 2 years ago. No flowers yet. I’m so excited. Can’t wait until it flowers. They say that it might have to be 7-10 years old before it flowers. We’re getting closer.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 2595 days

#2 posted 2573 days ago

That’s what I’ve heard with other Magnolias – 6-7 years as the minimum.

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Sawhorse's profile


281 posts in 3038 days

#3 posted 2573 days ago

Nice haul…

-- Sawhorse - Sulphur Springs, TX -

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6646 posts in 2577 days

#4 posted 2573 days ago

Hi Dorje,

It’s a pretty sick bunch that looks at the back of a pick up truck, sees some firewood, and says ooh.

I’m really starting to worry about me now!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Karson's profile


34853 posts in 2998 days

#5 posted 2573 days ago

Good insight Lee. We all are a little strange at times

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware †

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 2684 days

#6 posted 2573 days ago

Nice haul Dorje.

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3960 posts in 2662 days

#7 posted 2573 days ago

He’s even gotten me salivating over logs. This greenwood turning is infectious.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 2595 days

#8 posted 2573 days ago

Yes, a little strange are we…

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View rondo's profile


4 posts in 1426 days

#9 posted 374 days ago

What a coincidence! I just loaded up my pickup this afternoon with tulip wood. I’ve befriended a tree cutter, who called today to tell me to get over to his woodlot before the stuff got split into firewood. Looks like it’s going to be pretty nice, esp. if I can turn a few endgrain. Gotta admit, it’s a shame to go over there and see oak, black walnut and redwood cut into firewood (the redwood was 6 ft in dia) The tulip wood was up to 30” dia x 24” long. With a few blocks as steps, I was able to get some 24” pieces, plus some smaller into my pickup. There’s some interesting patterns there…

View rondo's profile


4 posts in 1426 days

#10 posted 374 days ago

And Dorje, thanks for the background info. This is a new wood for me.

View rondo's profile


4 posts in 1426 days

#11 posted 374 days ago

@Doug Bordner: There’s a problem with me turning green wood: At some point, someone’s got to come pull me out of the shavings!

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