Reply by CaptainKlutz

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Posted on How to finish this Cottonwood/Poplar

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4326 posts in 2545 days

#1 posted 01-06-2021 08:41 PM

#1) Species:
One pic makes any comment on species a guess? :-)

There are many species of cottonwood:

Also easy to confuse cottonwood, and poplar lumber:

The slab core looks like black poplar, but bark does not match Populus nigra?
In US, can find both white poplar (cottonwood species), or yellow/tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

#2) Crack:
Check moisture content. If less than 10-12%, then stabilize it, or cut it off as needed. Need to stablize cracks in slabs is normal due thickness and internal stress of tree.
If need full length of slab, need to stabilize the crack with bow tie insert, slow cure epoxy, or both. Otherwise, cut off the crack, making sure there is not cracked beyond the open portion.
If slab is more than 12% moisture, the crack might grow as it dries further. Then need to seal ends, and wait many months for it dry out and stop moving before dealing with crack(s).

#3) Finish:
Pick one you like. Solvent base has advantages, so does water base. Neither one is better or worse for large thick slabs. Only suggestion is finish both sides to ensure even movement as humidity changes during use.

#4) Stain:
Difficult to stain or blotch prone woods make adding color more difficult. Cottonwood tends to have stringy/fuzzy grain and can be challenge to sand smooth and stain evenly. Yellow popular will botch, but is easier to finish with blotch control.
There is no difference between lumber and/or slab regarding use of stain? Personally, I think large slabs are best left natural with clear finish. If wood color is not a match your home these, then pick another slab and let beauty of wood show.

Best Luck!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

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