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POPLAR

Populus balsamifera

THE TIMBER:
Balsam poplar lumber is seldom segregated from other poplars, cottonwoods and aspens in the trade and its wood differs only subtly from these related species. Demarcation between the almost chalk white sapwood and ash gray heartwood is more pronounced than in eastern cottonwood. The wood is coarser textured, less lustrous, slightly less dense and more figured than aspen.

WORKABILITY:
Balsam poplar is a very pleasant wood to work. The great advantage of balsam poplar is that, because of its slightly ring-porous structure, it has a figure which comes alive with subtle character when stained. In fact, with proper staining it can be made to look remarkably similar to cherry. Also, the tree often produces wavy grain and, with careful selection, it is possible to achieve a fiddleback appearance very comparable to maple. Because poplars are fast growers, care must be taken to avoid reaction wood. If the grain fuzzes when sanding, think twice about using that particular piece in any project you hope to make a masterpiece. Otherwise, balsam poplar is about as friendly a wood and can be found. It is easy to cut and shape, accepts nails and screws better than most, glues well and will accept virtually all finishes.

USES:
Balsam poplar pulp is used for paper production, and the wood is used for crating, core stock for plywood, veneer, ice cream sticks and bruit baskets. Some lumber is produced, generally for low-grade purposes such as sheathing and tongue and groove paneling.

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