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Author Topic: Aspen lumber  (Read 6839 times)
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Mike in Leduc
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« on: December 28, 2006, 10:15:39 PM »

Has anyone got something to say, good or bad, about Aspen lumber and what it's like to mill or work with?
I was looking for some Poplar for a couple of projects that are currently in the drawing stage and I can't find any where it's convenient to get to. There is a supplier in Edmonton that sells that product but they're open from 8 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Monday to Friday and I work from 7 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. so that supplier is out of the question.
There is another supplier who has Aspen (he says it's just like Poplar) but I have no experience with that wood and I figured someone here must have used it and cussed at it.
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C. John Hebert
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« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2006, 05:59:58 AM »

I did like you 10 yr or so ago when this crap showed up in Atlanta suppliers. I asked, and asked asked and got a reply that use that stuff because it's fast growing so it's easy replenishable for lumber companies. He uses it for fence post and laughed because even for that it isn't very good, but cheap. With no solid advice except what some quoted from books, or some cute little box...........no experience building a cabinet of any dimension so? With that looked like I was gona be a guinea pig and boy was I ever.
     I had to build an entertainment unite for my daughter and saw the resemblance in grain as birch sheething so what the heck, may as well take the plunge. I bought some real purdy 1 1/2 stock and 6" for face frames and and a couple raised panel doors. Had no real plan, and sorta sketched something and started dicin and slicin. One my mortise and tenons and got ready to glue when I notice one piece so badly bowed I had to toss it  Huh
Took out my moisture meter and it read 10% Huh No wonder it went.

     Anyhow, got the face frame done with some nice figure Cheesy When I picked the finished sanded face frame up, it broke! What the hell Huh Never ever had this happen. All I could think of is building something for a client and have it come apart like this, but ruled it out cause the plywood carcass would reinforce the face frame so there's no need to worry, but sure shocked me Shocked

     Saved the best of the figured wood for the panels and doors and started milling. Phew..........some milled like pine but some chipped, but after taking light passes it solve "most" of the issue. Now for the horror story. Staining was awful!!!!!!!!!!!! A huge blotchy mess! Cry
     I was trying to match her furniture (early American) and just turned out like crap. Hand saned most off, then fell for that old wives tale on cutting shellac 50/50 for a wash coat HA! that was a joke. It came out so light, the blotch it didn't even resemble early American at all. The wash only lightened the whole thing. Now some will say the blotch was gone, and that's bull! It's still there, only not as dark!!!!!! Angry
     Well, I decided if anything she'd prefer it darker than lighter. Bottom line is, I played with it and played with it and finally quit. It was so damned dark it didn't even resemble colonial or her furniture.
     
     My experience was enough to tell me to stay away from this stuff for the rest of my life. If it were for a client, I would have lost my shirt, and they'd probably never accept this. As I type, my daughter ended up painting it white in the end Clap Clap
    Whenever I type this...........the reviews start ending up being posted (just watch Grin) Look at the size of the project others are doing to give raving reviews, and was it a gift, or a commissioned piece. All I saw were pieces built for family members, friends, or some gift. Nothing positive for a paying customer. Now....... they may have injected all the trees with with steroids since to avoid all this mess, but I doubt it Grin Grin Grin
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rbell
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« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2006, 06:21:42 AM »

I burns quick and Hot  Roll Eyes
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Rick LoDico
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« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2006, 07:27:30 AM »

I burns quick and Hot  Roll Eyes

...and the fall foliage is a boring yellow.
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Billding
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« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2006, 09:03:33 AM »

Around here we call them Popple. About the only thing that there good for is supplying pulp to the paper mills. Poplars are a member of the Willow family. That should say enough. A good wind storm and they snap apart like toothpicks. They grow almost like weeds, 2-4' growth a year in Northern Wisconsin is not unusual. They send out sucker roots and new trees sprout from them, sometimes 30'-40' away. Areas that have been clear-cut by loggers usually grow back to be 10'-12' high in a few years. Big joke among the locals is selling cut-over land as wooded to people from Minneapolis.  New growth will come back so thick that you can hardly walk through it. They've been paying $3-$4k an acre for this worthless "wooded land". About every 5-7 years we get an infestation of "Army Worms", Popple leaves are their favorite food. They can clear a forty almost over night.  My advice like the others is find something else.
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Stu in Edmonton
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« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2006, 09:26:27 AM »

Save your money Mike. I bought the Bull$hit story too! It's worse than anything CJ said! Hold out for Poplar or use Maple.
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builder-bob
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« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2006, 09:29:46 AM »

Aspen is a VERY white wood, very light weight...not very strong, doesn't stain well, but then poplar doesn't stain well either.  If your planning on a furniture piece, I would recommend something else.

Bob
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Scott Priebe
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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2006, 09:43:19 AM »

Aspen is part of the Poplar family, as is the Lombardy Poplar that Billding speaks about.  There are a few facts in the attached link that make sense in between the grant money govt report filler.  It seems there are over 35 different species and hybrids for all kind of applications.  From paper to furniture to LVL beams.  

I use poplar from my local lumber supplier for paint grade built-ins, edge bands and cabinet construction.  Never asked what kind it is.  I suspect it is White Poplar.  The wood is dry, stable, nearly knot-free.  It cuts, machines, sands and takes paint well.  I like using it and it beats the heck out of pine/fir/spruce.

I remember the wind break of Lombardy Poplar we had in our yard while growing up in Minnesota.  They were total weeds, you could almost hear them grow.  Only corn and bamboo grow faster.  Their suckers popped in the lawn between weekly mowings.  We finally cut down the ones that didn't fall down first.


http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf2001/balat01a.pdf
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Paul in N. NM
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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2006, 09:52:56 AM »

About the only thing Aspen is good for is interior wall/ceiling sheathing IE 1 x6 T&G.
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Bing in MN
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« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2006, 11:43:46 AM »

My advice is worth what you pay for it, but I'm with the others.   I only used aspen once on some drawers and hated it.   Bowed and fuzzed up when routing and didn't seem to cut very well either.    The little I've used poplar for painted stuff, I haven't had a problem and seems like a good substitute for softer pine.
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Art in Linden
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« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2006, 12:08:13 PM »

I used some Aspen to make some small drawers in my Laundry room, the local supplier said it was the same as Poplar, that was BS.  After about two months 2 of the three were broken, then got some real poplar and rebuilt them.  The only satisfaction I got from the Aspen was it started a pretty good fire.    Art
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Alan in Little Washington (NC)
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« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2006, 02:21:14 PM »

Like Alder it is another mountain weed.
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John G
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« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2006, 04:51:18 PM »

Scandinavia grows a lot of aspem/poplar/alder. Main use is pulping for paper. Grows fast to harvestable size and the process of harvesting is totally automated

John G
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Mike in Leduc
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« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2006, 06:21:53 PM »

Thanks to all for the replies. One of the fellows I work with used to have his own cabinet shop in Southern Ontario and when I asked him, today, what he thought of Aspen, the string of expletives would have made a sailor blush. There are a couple of lumber mills in the Edmonton area that I've never heard of but they are closed for the New Years weekend so maybe next week I'll try calling them and see what they sell. Because of what you all have said, Aspen will now only go in the fireplace.
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P. Krom
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« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2006, 08:12:32 PM »

Down here I have "weeping aspen" strange stuff almost as soft as balsa.When they reach 12inches or better a puff of wind will down them. Immature they are a smooth grey/green, mature a course bark with Immature limbs. I sawed 2 up and saved , thought I might use them for rear panels, or new rear wood on old pieces.
Doubt they would be worth firewood , you would have to stand in front of the fire and feed  all the time. I never saw the trees other than low land woods, not on the mountains around here.
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Paul in N. NM
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« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2006, 09:18:52 PM »

An interesting fact about 'Aspen'.  It is the largest tree in the world.  If you don't believe me check "guiness'. 
You can have hundreds of acres of aspens sharing one root (system).
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Jerry in Michigan
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« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2006, 10:19:12 AM »

An interesting fact about 'Aspen'.  It is the largest tree in the world.  If you don't believe me check "guiness'. 
You can have hundreds of acres of aspens sharing one root (system).

Yep, hence the handle "weed".   Grin
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