Walking Stick Forum banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
969 Posts
Hard question to answer, in part because there are so many things called poplar. The only thing I've worked with is often called yellow poplar, but the sci, name is "liriodendron tulipifera," or tulip tree. A fairly soft wood, easy to cut and good for picture frames, architectural molding, and light furniture. The yellow poplar I used seemed to be fairly stiff, and able to take stress at 1" thick. Below that, it was somewhat bendy.

I've only once cut into cottonwood, one of the species also called poplar, and it was too soft and mushy for anything I could think of.

Check the piece you are thinking of working. If the grain is regular, and the length doesn't flex much, it will probably be OK if the stick is for style. I doubt it would be good for rougher use.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
131 Posts
I'll be another voice recommending yellow, or tulip, poplar. Especially when it's in sapling form the bark slides off like butter off a hot pan. It can dry fairly stiff. It is quite bendy when still wet, but quite still enough when dry. It's soft, so can dent easily if you're not careful.

As for carving, it is ok. Like I said, it is soft, but tends to be a bit on the fuzzy side when cut. It can be difficult to get smooth and burnished.

On the plus side, it's very common, grows quickly as an early filler tree in clear cut areas and forest edges, and the wood is relatively cheap and easy to find as dimensional lumber. It can also come in some wild colors (purple, green, tan, brown) all in the same board. But once exposed to light the colors unfortunately fade to an even light brown.

I like poplar, and one of my favorite sticks, the one I made for my son, is poplar.

Another advantage I just remembered, is that they tend to have side roots rather than deep tap roots. This means that if you dig one up from the roots you can sometimes get a nice angled bend and a built-in handle. The one on the right is a poplar sapling I just dug up.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
I made my first stick with a poplar closet dowel and copper fittings. I got my feet wet with it. I had a lot of fun, and I still have the stick. I don't like that it dents so easily, but I've been playing with a piece of walnut, and it can be dented somewhat easily too. At least more easily than I had hoped.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,485 Posts
I made my first stick with a poplar closet dowel and copper fittings. I got my feet wet with it. I had a lot of fun, and I still have the stick. I don't like that it dents so easily, but I've been playing with a piece of walnut, and it can be dented somewhat easily too. At least more easily than I had hoped.
Kemjak -- what kind of walnut are you using? I've never had a problem with our Black Walnut easily denting! I've even had stuff that was hard to turn on the lathe because it was so hard!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
@Rad

I don't know what kind of walnut. I'm not even positive it is walnut. I gathered it from under a walnut tree growing wild at a preserve near here. Don't get me wrong, it's harder than the poplar. I was just disappointed about getting a couple of small dents in it.

If I had to guess, I would say English walnut. The place where I found the stick has been protected for about 100 years, but is surrounded by walnut and almond orchards. And while walnuts are not a native tree, a bird could have dropped a nut there 100 years ago, giving us a nice tree today.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replies. I can't get reception on my cell to respond to this forum. Only fault of living in the sticks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
144 Posts
I remove the bark from walking sticks I make with a pressure washer and popular wood doesn't work well for me because the wood is so soft.

The pressure washer tends to cut inot the wood.

I would like to suggest the use of hardwood rather than soft wood for walking sticks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
131 Posts
the bark comes off poplar so easily that pressure washing is way overkill. You can get a good strip going and take it pretty much off the whole length with little effort. It leaves some really good textures underneath. Very slippery and smooth without any work.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top