Cotton wood

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What is cotton wood and is it good for wood working? Someone identified a downed tree as cotton wood but I'm not sure if it's worth the effort to saw it into boards. Any inputs would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Dave
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(Dave) wrote:

From "Wood Handbook":
"Cottonwood is used principally for lumber, veneer, pulpwood, excelsior, and fuel. Lumber and veneer are used primarily for boxes, crates, baskets, and pallets."
In other words, it ain't one of the world's fine furniture woods.
I wouldn't bother sawing it up. It isn't even very good firewood.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
For a copy of my TrollFilter for NewsProxy/Nfilter, send email to autoresponder at filterinfo-at-milmac-dot-com You must use your REAL email address to get a response.
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Dave asks:

Do it. Synopsis: Cottonwood Gray-white to light brown; straight, uniform texture; works easily with hand tools, holds fasteners well, glues up well. Fine carving wood, does not hold detail as well as basswood. Tends to fuzz up when sanded. Stains blotch. Clear finishes and paints well. Stable after drying.
Good luck.
Charlie Self "In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office." Ambrose Bierce
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I've got a cottonwood stump in my back yard about 5' diameter and 25' high, free for the taking. South central Kentucky. Got sick of all the fuzz in the pool ! ! !
Regards ! !
snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote in message

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Big tree. Must be 5, 6 years old at that size, eh?
It's a lot like Box Elder (it's a soft maple) that we have here in Wisconsin. Damn tree is a weed, and interferes with other trees. I don't even bother making firewood out of it any more (stoped after the first year), I just drop them & let them turn back into soil. Seems that 3 or 4 years is enough to recycle them.

If Charlie says it's worthwhile for woodworking as he described, that sure beats trying to use it for firewood. It's all about weight when dry, and cottonwood sure doesn't have much of that. Maybe someone will want it who doesn't know just how much work it is for very little heat. But, if nobody takes it, it makes a nice mulch.
Dave Hinz
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Dave Hinz notes:

I wouldn't use it for fine furniture, but it's a decent carving wood, though not as good as basswood, makes pretty good dough bowls (though, in fact, yellow poplar, which is a magnolia, makes better ones), and it does fuzz a bit when sanded. It's lightweight, which is a curse at times and a blessing at others. I've only used it for firewood out in a Utah desert area where nothing else was available. Not much of a firewood, but the downed pieces were immense, so there was plenty of heat once they were burning nicely.
I guess it could be described as a wood that is "not as good as" and let it go at that. It can be used. It is seldom if ever first choice.
Charlie Self "In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office." Ambrose Bierce
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About basswood - I need to remove a basswood tree, about 12" in diameter at the bottom. How should I cut & store it for carving purposes?
Dave Hinz
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Dave Hinz asks:

What kind of things do you carve or want to carve? You can either have it cut into boards (4/4, 8/4, 12/4, etc.) or simply cut it into sections, leave the bark on, and coat the ends of the sections with wax. Air drying is probably going to be plenty for most small carving wood, but you may want to investigate local kilns if you plan to do larger carvings. Air drying takes forever with large chunks.
You can use PEG to reduce time seasoning before use, but that has a host of other changes needed (none important, except for certain finish problems because of the waxy nature of PEG).
If you reduce it to boards, sticker and cover as you do any wood you're drying, letting it dry about a year per inch of thickness. You can finish in a dry basement or attic.
Charlie Self "In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office." Ambrose Bierce
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Almost any way you like. Basswood (which is a little harded than our European limes / lindens) is a very easy timber to dry.
I'd go for thick boards, maybe 4". If you _know_ you're going to want a big lump for carving, or you _know_ that you only want thin boards, then saw it like that. Cutting 4" now though is a reasonable compromise between being able to fit most carving blanks out of it, or being resawable down to thinner boards in the future. As it's an easy timber to season, then 4" rather than the 2" I'd suggest for most furniture hardwoods doesn't make things difficult.
I'd lose the central pith (make one cut to halve the log), as any flat timber is going to be a problem with cracking if you've "boxed the heart". I'd flat saw it, rather than quarter sawing it, as this improves yield. There's no quarter sawn figure to go for (unlike oak) and lime doesn't suffer much warping trouble on a flatsawn boards.
Wax the ends, sticker the boards and leave it ignored in the drying shed for a few years ("year an inch thickness", but limes will dry faster than that in most climates). Don't fool about with PEG, for limes you don't need it.
Watch for water damage, roof leaks etc. If there's any water on the stack whilst drying, you can lose a lot of this timber to rot or discolouration, and it's not an attractive spalting.
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Andy Dingley responds:

Unless you don't want to wait "few years". You don't truly need PEG for any wood, but it's handy for some and speeds up time to use for most.
I've packed my charts, but I'd guess you could use a 4" chunk of basswood inside of 100 days if you use PEG.
Charlie Self "In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office." Ambrose Bierce
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Thanks to both of you. Can I use parrafin wax, or should I use something different?
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Dave Hinz asks:

There are specific coatings, but parrafin wax should work fine. You can use almost any heavy paint or coating, as long as it comes very close to sealing the end grain. Understand that you will lose an inch or two of that end grain when you trim the wax off.
Check out http://www.rockler.com/ecom7/product_details.cfm?&offerings_id 78 for green wood sealer.
Charlie Self "In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office." Ambrose Bierce
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Charlie Self wrote:

Anchorseal is another product used for sealing the end grain. It's made by U C Coatings in Buffalo and is available in quarts, gallons, 5 gallon pails and 55 gallon drums. IIRC they ship anywhere in the continental US free. See:
https://www.uccoatings.com /
-- Jack Novak Buffalo, NY - USA (Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
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wrote:

Paraffin wax works fine. It needs to be applied hot (and not onto really cold wood either).
If you have much to do though, it's simpler to buy some end-seal wax. This is a water-based wax emulsion and applies cold with a brush. Much simpler, and it doesn't have the same tendency to flake off.
--
Smert' spamionam

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wrote:

The last time I coated the ends of big chunks of wood I experimented a little. I took an empty gallon paint can, put about 1/2 tube of clear silicone calk in the can. I had previously tested various reducers & found I could thin the silicone calk to a brushable solution by thinning with lacquer thinner. So next I added lacquer thinner mixing it in with a paint stirrer until I got a nice brushable solution. I then used the solution to coat the ends on my wood. It worked well, the mixture dried to a thin rubber like coating that adhered well to the wood ends. Use a cheap brush, after you are done brushing the mixture there is no cleaning the brush.
Hope this helps, Frank
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On 10 May 2004 12:41:46 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@logantele.com (Charlie Campney) brought forth from the murky depths:

If you miss the smell, plant Lombardy poplars. Their leaves produce the same heavenly scent in the morning.
obww: The legs on my shave horse were made with limbs from the poplars in my LoCal yard. I was -very- surprised at how hard that stuff was after drying.
-- Save the Endangered ROAD NARROWS! -|- www.diversify.com Ban SUVs today! -|- Full Service Websites
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On Mon, 10 May 2004 12:26:01 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Dave) wrote:

around here <arizona> cottonwoods grow in the riverbottoms, get huge and rot out up the center, which is what usually brings them down. they're IIRC a mamber of the aspen family. the wood isn't used commercially here. it's one of the few really big trees in southern arizona. it's not used commercially for anything as far as I know.
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Cottonwoods and mosquitos have one thing in common, both are useless and a PITA. Terrible wood to work with, or to burn.
Dave wrote:

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Thanks for all the information. I think I'll just let it recycle back into soil. Dave
On Mon, 10 May 2004 09:32:09 -0600, Grandpa <jsdebooATcomcast.net> wrote:

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Anyone know what the burls look like? My neighbor has a warty one that's coming down.
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