Cotton Wood

Greetings all, I have a few questions about cotton wood. I live in Alaska and my property has plenty of cotton wood trees on it just waiting for me to cut and mill them. So, question # 1. Is it worth my time and effort to cut and mill a tree or two for basic project lumber? I'm a novice and my projects will be interior shelves, decorative boxes, birdhouses etc. Question # 2. What is the best time of year to cut down a tree for lumber? I suspect winter when there is minimal sap in the wood. Question # 3. Do I need to paint the ends with something to help prevent checking? Question # 4. What questions am I failing to ask about this? Thanks for your help. Regards.
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In article

Yes. Free wood is good wood.

Winter or fall.

Yes.
How to sticker, store and dry the wood.

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cottonwood will not store well in log form over summer months, so you will want to mill it within a reasonable time. end coating a log with log wax is a good idea, when you go to sticker stack the lumber for drying the end coat will help for end checking. cottonwood is fine for inside use but will not do well outdoors, otherwise very tough wood, sometimes use as case wood in stuffed chairs etc. also used in pallets and crates. we used to sell logs to a veneer mill and was rotary cut for wire bound crates. the lumber tends to want to twist until dry so do a good job stickering and put extra weight on the top of the pile. ross www.highislandexport.com
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Bill specifically said milling in his post, so I didn't address that.

Excellent advice.
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Be prepared to sticker it right away. Use dry wood for the stickers.
Pete Stanaitis ----------------
Teledude wrote:

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Mixed advice so far.
Fell when the leaves are off the tree.
Most commercial operations won't bother coating even woods like oak. Cottonwood, with its interlocked grain needs it even less. Cut 4-6" over nominal length and you should be just fine for those few full-stick boards.
You're going to have to have your dry - preferably cedar - stickers ready before you saw. Cottonwoods and poplar with their high moisture content are prone to sticker stain.
It's not a very good wood for wear purposes, nor is it durable naked as a birdhouse. Insides, unders, and painted it'll do. Twists and turns a lot when the tree grows with leans and lateral branching, so you may get some figured turning wood for your friends there. Wouldn't waste my time trying to make many boards out of it.
http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/ and the search button will get you all the information you want on air drying, including stickering and times. Pick your answers as you get questions.
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I don't know much about the wood, but woodcarvers would love to get a hold of the bark from it. If the bark is 2 to 3 inches thick or more it is good for carving. I wish you were closer to me!!!

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I have also read that cottonwood is sometimes sold as "poplar", because the species are so similar. I have been using poplar for miscellaneous indoor projects for years, mills well, generally clear and well-behaved. Cottonwood oughta be good, too.
The only thing I don't like about poplar is the smell. Kinda stinks to me. Not as bad as some pallet oak, though, which smells like barf.
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On Mar 10, 10:53 am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Yeas and no. Cottonwood and poplar are sometimes grouped together with aspen and/or sold as 'aspen'. I'm not defending the practice, just relating it.
Wood sold as poplar is from the North American Tulip tree, sometimes called a 'tulip poplar', though nothing about the tree resembles any real poplar tree I have seen. The tulip tree (not the same as the S. American tuliptree) is more closely related to the magnolia and the wood is similar.

Spoon carvers like it.

Green magnolia wood smells like crap. Literally.
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On Sun, 9 Mar 2008 17:28:28 -0700 (PDT), Teledude

Don't know about the wood. but the bark is prized by many carvers. Check out e-bay and google for "cottonwood bark" and see what it's selling for.
Bill
btw: can I get a discount for the advice? ; 0 )
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Teledude wrote:

Cottonwood may be useful for some simple interior projects but overall it isn't a very suitable furniture wood for other than some structural parts and isn't at all suitable for exterior. It is bad about tension wood and warping so large boards are difficult to get flat and straight. It has little grain (altho it paints reasonably well) so hasn't much to recommend it for any real attractiveness. For the interior functional projects, not too bad, but unless alternatives are totally out of the question I'd consider the return to be realized likely far more than effort expended justifies.
See
http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/TechSheets/HardwoodNA/htmlDocs/populussp.html
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Check the bark. If it is nice and thick, save it. Woodcarvers like it to carve.

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Cottonwoods tend to rot in the middle. The wood is soft and pretty worthless. I don't recommend it for anything outdoors because it is VERY prone to rot.
What you want is old redwood decking or siding that is being tossed.
Even pine will be better than Cottonwood.

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