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Poplar v Red Cedar

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  • James Winkler
    Hummm... good question, Is Western Red Cedar softer and weaker than Poplar? Well... refering to The Wood Book and another resource... PINACEAE - Western
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2005
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      Hummm...  good question, "Is Western Red Cedar softer and weaker than Poplar?"
      Well...  refering to "The Wood Book" and another resource...
      PINACEAE -
      Western Red Cedar, Western or Giant Arbor-vitae, Canoe Cedar (Thuja plicata):  Very light, soft, not strong, brittle course grained; very resistant to rotting in the ground.  Use: Interior furnishings, doors, window frames, fences, roof shingles, cabinets, etc.  Used for huts, totem poles, and war canoes by American Indians, Inner bark fibers for ropes, cloth, shawls, etc.
      http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/TechSheets/SoftwoodNA/html/Docs/thujapicata.html sez [Center for Wood Anatomy Reseach - USDA Forest Service], "General Wood Characteristics: The heartwood of western red cedar is reddish or pinkish brown to dull brown and the sapwood nearly white. The sapwood is narrow, often not over 1 inch in width. The wood is generally straight grained and has a uniform but rather coarse texture. It has very small shrinkage. This species is light in weight, moderately soft, low in strength when used as a beam or posts, and low in shock resistance. Its heartwood very resistant to decay."
      'Poplar'... [Umm... shows several different names...  Carolina, Italian, Lombardy, Necklace, Silver-leaf, Swamp, White and Yellow... all found in North America...]
      Carolina Poplar, Necklace Poplar; Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides): Light soft, not strong, and close-grained; warps as it drys and is extremely difficult to season.  Heartwood dark brown; sapwood thick, almost white.  Use:  For paper pulp, cheap packaging and firewood.
      [Hummm... they seem a little rough on Carolina Poplar...  how rude... 'firewood'!!!!]
      Italian or Lombardy Poplar (populus nigra L. "Italica"):  [sez' Wood: like other poplars] Use:  Extensively used for matches, cardboard and paper pulp, otherwise of little value.
      [Populus nigra doesn't fair much better...]
      White Poplar, Abele, Silver-leaf Poplar (Populus alba)  Wood... light, soft, tough.  Heartwood reddish yellow, sapwood almost white.  Use:  generally only for paper pulp, though locally for small wooden objects.
      Then we got:
      Black Cottonwood, Balsam Cottonwood, Cottonwood, Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera L. subsp trichocarpa) :  Light and soft, Pale brown, thin, almost white sapwood...   Use:  barrels, butter churns, bowls and tableware.  Extensive use by American Indians for canoes, and the roots for hats and baskets.
      Big-toothed Aspen, Canadian Aspen (Populus grandidentata):  Light, soft, not strong and close grained.  Heartwood pale brown; sapwood almost white.  Use; Mainly for pulp, occasionally for building and in turnery.
      By the way... 'The Wood Book' is a reprint of "The American Woods (1888-1913, 1928) by Romeyn Beck Hough)... its published by TASCHEN (easy to spot if you find a copy... it comes in a wooden box... and is expensive.  There is no ISBN.
      The book is an anthology of North American woods in three languages and with some amazing color photographs of each of the woods identifed... showing a transverse section of a plank... a radial section and a tangential section.  
      I'll save all the stuff on poplar... but, if ya' check out http://www2.fpl.fs.fed.us/  you'll find the 'Center for Wood Anatomy Research'...  its worth checking out... more technical data on wood than ya' can shake a splinter of fatwood at...
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