A Popular Hardwood for Interior Parts

I mentioned yellow poplar last month in my post about the Southern yellow pines, so I thought it would be appropriate to follow up on that.  Yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipfera), or tulip poplar for most of us Southerners, is one of two trees in the genus Liriodendron.  The other is a native of China.  Neither are true poplars. True poplars are in the willow family of trees, which also contain the genus Populus (cottonwoods), and which is Latin for “people” and was also the Latin name for “tree.”  (I could get confused, too, if I didn’t write all this stuff down.)

Deep breath; I’m almost through.

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The Cheap, Good Wood

Longleaf Pine Forest

USDA Forest Service Archive, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

I know. The words cheap and good usually aren’t used together when the subject is wood for woodworking. But in the case of the Southern yellow pines, this wording is well-suited.

Southern yellow pine is a catchall phrase for all of the Southern pines. They include loblolly, shortleaf, slash, longleaf and Virginia, as well as some other minor species. They are commonly known as “softwoods” and are mostly sold as dimensional lumber for construction.

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Christmas Wood and the “Poor Man’s Ebony”

The title of this blog post may be a little confusing, but it is not meant to be. (Well, maybe it is — but we’ll clear things up in a minute.)

American holly (Illex opaca) is native only to the United States but, since it closely resembled English holly to the Pilgrims, it quickly became the Americans’ symbol of Christmas. It was, and still is, found along the coast of Massachusetts and all the way down through the southeast to East Texas. It grows in the same geographic areas as the Southern yellow pines, but since it can’t tolerate fire, it is rarely found in those pine forests that are regularly burned. So, most large trees are more commonly associated with old hardwood forests. American holly is a slow grower, taking 100 to 150 years to grow large enough for lumber, but it can grow to 70 feet tall and two feet or greater in diameter.

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Hardboard and Masonite: Uniform Wood Products

A couple of years ago, a question arose within the pages of Woodworker’s Journal concerning the origination of “Masonite®.” Masonite was the brand name of a product invented in 1924 by William H. Mason in Laurel, Mississippi. Mass production began in 1929, and it was produced in Mason’s hometown right up until the 1990’s.

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Hardboard: the All-Natural Wood Product

There are two basic processes used to manufacture hardboard: the wet method and the dry method. They both start out the same way; the wood is chipped and then broken down into raw fiber by steaming and grinding. The fibers are put back together with the fibers rearranged lying in either two dimensions parallel to the surfaces or three-dimensional with some parallel and some perpendicular. All hardboard goes through these steps. The end result is two different types of hardboard. One has two finished sides and the other only has one side finished, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

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Gibson Guitars, the Lacey Act, and You

I would guess we all have heard about the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s raid on the Gibson Guitar company on August 25th. If you haven’t, you need to push back the rock a little.

The U. S. Attorney’s Office in Tennessee originated the warrants for possible violations of the Lacey Act, as amended in 2008. This act makes it illegal to import any wood or any item containing wood that was harvested, manufactured, or exported in any way contrary to the laws of the originating country. In other words, when Gibson imported wood from India, if any Indian laws were broken in doing so, then the wood becomes contraband and then Gibson is liable for illegally importing that wood into the United States.

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It’s Not Cedar

Cedar is used in many different projects in woodworking. There are humidors and cigar boxes made of Spanish cedar, closets and blanket chests lined with Eastern red cedar, and even your carpenter’s pencil is more likely than not made of incense cedar. There is one small problem, however; none of these commercial woods are, in fact, cedar.

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Buying (or Selling) Logs for Lumber – Log Rules Part 3

Measure Tree CircumferenceLog purchasers use many reasons for the differences in log rules. For example, users of the Doyle Rule, which underestimates volume in smaller logs, say that this is the very reason it is a fairer rule in that it costs them more to process smaller logs. This is logical since the logger will have to cut more trees, the sawyer will have to saw more logs, and the yard crew will have to move more logs to the sawyer, to equal the amount of lumber in much larger logs. However, if he cannot efficiently utilize smaller logs, he should base his offer on that, not on a biased estimation of yield. There are other reasons given to justify variance in log rule use, but frankly, none hold much water for me. As we can see, there is the potential for dishonesty when choosing log rules.

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Buying (or Selling) Logs For Lumber – Log Rules Part 2

From the time the very first Europeans set foot on American soil, we have tried to develop systems to estimate the board feet of finished lumber we can obtain from a green log. It seems straightforward: figure the number of 1-inch thick planks that can be sawn, subtract for the width of the saw blade (kerf) and for waste (trim), and there you would have it, what is known as a “log rule.” However, it iLumber Harvests not that simple, because that does not take into consideration the high variability between logs, equipment used to saw those logs, and the operators of that equipment. The Forest Service’s Forest Products Lab in Madison, Wisconsin reports that over 95 log rules with about 185 different names have been developed in our brief history as a nation.

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