Aspen wood? Anyone ever try it?

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Forum topic by mpo414 posted 12-24-2015 03:35 AM 1034 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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19 posts in 919 days

12-24-2015 03:35 AM

I live in Wyoming and the two trees that grow in our state are pine and aspen. I have a local mill cut me a lot of pine but just started wondering if anyone has ever tried to do anything with Aspen. I’ve tried it as firewood before, never doing that again. Just looking for some advice to see if it’s worth milling some up to add a bit of variety to my one species show. Thanks!

-- Matt, Wyoming

13 replies so far

View sawdustdad's profile


354 posts in 882 days

#1 posted 12-24-2015 04:20 AM

Aspen can be a useful wood if you understand it’s limitations. It’s a low density, even grained hardwood, similar in some respects to poplar. It’s stable, but stain finishes can be problematic, better suited to painting, though lots of commercial furniture uses aspen. Keep the cross sections larger for any load bearing members due to lower strength than traditional hardwoods.

We don’t have much Aspen here on the east coast, but poplar is often used for secondary woods on furniture or for painted projects. The same would apply to Aspen.

I say go for it.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

View Bobsboxes's profile


1367 posts in 2661 days

#2 posted 12-24-2015 04:54 AM

We have one wall in the house covered with tongue and grove Aspen. No finish, it mellows out like pine. We have some leftovers, I use a piece every now and then. Very colorful wood, the local mill cut it. It has been a long time ago now, it could have been a burn harvest, or standing dead area.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View kepy's profile


293 posts in 2271 days

#3 posted 12-24-2015 12:54 PM

I use aspen for scrolling because I like the really white color. I don’t stain my work so don’t know how it would work.

-- Kepy

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19 posts in 919 days

#4 posted 12-24-2015 03:26 PM

Thanks guys! I will give it a shot. Sounds like it may be a good wood to work with. I build a lot of mirrors and it sounds like it may work well. What happens when you try to stain it? Does it not take stain evenly? Could you use a Danish oil on it?

-- Matt, Wyoming

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515 posts in 1962 days

#5 posted 12-24-2015 03:49 PM

Aspen is very soft and damages easily. Even with a prestain I doubt you’ll be able to get an even stain color. Honestly, the only thing I’ve found it useful for was practicing hand cut dovetails and hand plane techniques.

-- Artisan Woodworks of Texas....

View MrRon's profile


4764 posts in 3241 days

#6 posted 12-24-2015 05:15 PM

Aspen is cut for lumber, pallets, boxes and crating, pulp-
wood, particleboard, strand panels, excelsior, matches, ve-
neer, and miscellaneous turned articles. Today, aspen is one
of the preferred species for use in oriented strandboard, a
panel product that is increasingly being used as sheathing.

View Planeman40's profile


1176 posts in 2758 days

#7 posted 12-24-2015 06:11 PM

Aspen is wonderful for making wood models! It essentially has no grain and has a very smooth texture. It is harder to carve than Basswood but can hold fine details. Like said above, it doesn’t stain well. I think this is due to almost plastic-like surface that doesn’t allow the stain to soak in. I am sold on it for making small finely detailed items. Great for model ship building if its going to be painted.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View LiveEdge's profile


584 posts in 1617 days

#8 posted 12-24-2015 06:20 PM

I love Quaking Aspen for its white color. No stain, just water based poly. I’ve done a fair amount of smaller projects with it. It is soft, as mentioned in other comments, but so are a lot of other woods.

View TravisH's profile


578 posts in 1932 days

#9 posted 12-24-2015 06:56 PM

I used some aspen (big tooth) for a small cabinet and used milk paint. I enjoyed working with it but it was very soft. Not an issue for this build as the the soft wood just adds to the charm as we chuck keys and what not on the top of it when we enter the front door. I would use it again but only on very specific projects.

It worked very similar to the basswood that I have used over the years for carving and lures.

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339 posts in 958 days

#10 posted 12-25-2015 02:41 AM

These are aspen

-- You can tell a lot about your wife by her hands, for example if they are around your throat she's prolly pissed off at you...

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2285 posts in 896 days

#11 posted 12-25-2015 02:46 AM

I tried it once….It tasted funny :/

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2512 days

#12 posted 12-25-2015 12:59 PM

I decided to look in my local big box stores to see if I could score any flame maple. To my surprise, my Lowes is now carrying aspen and poplar, but no more maple.

I did find a plank of heavily quilted aspen. Could not resist it, although I haven’t a clue what I will build with it. Maybe some jewelry box fronts, since they don’t take much abuse. It is soft, and stark white, but you can clearly see the quilt in this one plank.

I see what the comments above mean – soft, probably hard to get a decent stain on it. I think with some conditioner and maybe grain enhancer, no stain, it will come around and make the quilt pop.
I didn’t put up a pic since I didn’t think I could get the camera to pick up on the pattern with the whiteness of the wood.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View mpo414's profile


19 posts in 919 days

#13 posted 12-28-2015 08:43 PM

Thanks for the input, I think ill have some milled up and give it a try!

-- Matt, Wyoming

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