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types of poplar?

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Forum topic by 12strings posted 11-25-2014 07:07 PM 924 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12strings

434 posts in 1850 days


11-25-2014 07:07 PM

I have used poplar from big box stores for years on various projects, and it has always been really soft, wimpy-feeling wood.

I just recently got some poplar from a friend who saws his own lumber, and it just seems to be a lot better, harder, sturdier wood…

Is there some reason for this?

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!


6 replies so far

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bobro

308 posts in 777 days


#1 posted 11-25-2014 07:25 PM

Poplars grow fast in general, but there are hybrids that grow crazy fast, six foot plus a year kind of fast. I would imagine that your Borg is getting wood from plantations with such “super-trees”. Where I live our Borgs have such plantation woods, you can tell by the lightness and comic-book style growth rings, but sometimes really good wood as well. But the good wood in our Borg comes from Eastern Europe and is of dubious origin- some Siberian spruce I got for dirt cheap was just way too good to be true, very likely from illegal logging in virgin forests.

A small mill can get great wood in a perfectly legal and sustainable way because they’re not taking thousands of trees in a sweep, in fact they’re helping maintain the forests by making them a valuable renewable resource.

-- Lao Ma: You are so full of anger and hatred. Xena: Everybody's gotta be full of something.

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jdh122

879 posts in 2284 days


#2 posted 11-25-2014 07:33 PM

Poplar is tricky. Around here (eastern Canada) it mostly refers to trembling aspen, which is really only one subspecies of true poplars. Others might be considerably stronger or weaker. Eastern cottonwood is a poplar and is a bit stronger. But tulip poplar (not a true poplar at all, closely related to magnolias, according to Roy Underhill) is a much harder and stronger wood.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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12strings

434 posts in 1850 days


#3 posted 11-25-2014 07:45 PM

This stuff definitely has the green streaks through it, like the poplar I see at Big box stores, but it also has some deep black sections as well. Does that specify a certain type?

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

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bobro

308 posts in 777 days


#4 posted 11-25-2014 08:25 PM



This stuff definitely has the green streaks through it, like the poplar I see at Big box stores, but it also has some deep black sections as well. Does that specify a certain type?

- 12strings

The stuff with the green and other colors would be Liriodendron tulipifera, which is what jdh122 was referring to above, while the many kinds of true poplars (populus) which includes aspens, cottonwoods, generally have pale wood. “Really soft, wimpy” sounds more like a description of the true poplars.

Another spanner in the works might be that what’s sold as “poplar” in a big box store could be mixed woods, which is certainly the case with firs/spruces. It’s also possible that there is now “super-tree” tulip tree (“yellow poplar”) and that’s what you have in your store.

-- Lao Ma: You are so full of anger and hatred. Xena: Everybody's gotta be full of something.

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lateralus819

2236 posts in 1356 days


#5 posted 11-26-2014 02:39 AM

I’ve had really soft poplar and some that rivaled maple in terms of density.

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bold1

262 posts in 1313 days


#6 posted 11-26-2014 12:07 PM

As was said there are quite a few that could be sold under the poplar name. Most of the time dealing with mills here (central PA.) their poplar is going to be Tulip Poplar. Which can be white to green to purple, depending on the minerals it gets from the soil. It usually is figured as hard or semi hard class of wood, (some people figure it with the soft). But you may get Lynn (Basswood) or other aspens in the mix. Some Lynn and Tulip Poplar is hard to tell apart rough sawn even to someone working around it all their life. Lynn can usually be told by it’s weight, but not always.

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