Paulownia Lumber: A close up look and analysis 2019

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Blog entry by Steve posted 05-17-2019 04:10 PM 819 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made a new video that shows a milled piece of 8/4 Paulownia lumber that we surfaced through the planer. I like this wood but it can be challenging for woodworkers due to density and silica content.

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1413 posts in 3156 days

#1 posted 05-18-2019 03:09 PM

Used to use Paulownia for carved rubber model plane propellers. Much better than balsa. The wood is light but much stiffer than balsa, easy to carve. I tried to buy some Paulownia about ten or fifteen years ago to carve props but found it hard to find and very expensive. Curiously enough, the damn stuff grows like a weed here in the Southeastern part of the USA and is a common to see. I even have some in my back yard. But it grows wild as a scraggly low tree and has a hollow interior similar to bamboo but smaller. The commercial wood is severely pruned to force it to grow tall and straight. It grows so fast that it can be harvested in 10 years. The remaining stump will sprout again and because the roots are established, can be harvested even earlier. The commercial wood is farmed.

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

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29 posts in 3369 days

#2 posted 05-20-2019 12:58 AM

I’ve heard of woods like spruce and balsa for model plane propellers. It makes sense that Paulownia works, too.

Two issues inflating the price of Paulownia lumber are the lack of widespread harvesting due to limited commercial demand and the odd inner structure of the wood that you describe above.

A while back we bought some inexpensive low-grade Paulownia logs and had them live-sawn to 8/4 thickness. They were knotty but 20-30” wide. I thought the cutting yields would be decent. However, I was shocked to find many large diameter open circular voids (pith, I assume) that _were not visible on either face of the 8/4 boards!Only visible on the end-grain. Our waste factor more than doubled. It was a costly discovery! However, we’ve had substantially better luck with higher-grade Paulownia.


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