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Author Topic: Tulip Poplar  (Read 740 times)

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Offline Ar549

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Tulip Poplar
« on: December 08, 2018, 07:02:39 AM »
I've researched a good bit just by using search engines but I have one question I can't seem to get clear on.  Why are most poplar cabins built with square logs?  Bought a tract of land in WV that we're going to start working on in the spring.  Loaded with Tulip Poplar and would like to utilize it for the cabin and other structures.  Just curious why you can't strip the bark and scribe full logs.  Sapwood causes issues I'm assuming? 

Also, this site is full of fantastic information and knowledgeable posters.  Glad I found it and joined up.  Thanks to everyone!

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2018, 08:00:05 AM »
Maybe just economics?  You can sell or use poplar jacket boards for panelling, batten and trim, but theres not much use for a poplar fencepost or tie, theyll rot.  Not hard enough for dunnage, It isnt great firewood either.  So what else are you gonna do with a bunch of poplar cants beside making pallets?   Sell it for cabin lumber.
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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2018, 08:21:51 AM »
Poplar tends to open up a pretty massive check as it dries as a large timber compared to other woods. If you scribe fit it that lateral groove creates a stress relief, that is where the check will tend to open up, spreading the cope. Just something to think about. It makes good boards and dimensional framing.
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Offline curved-wood

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2018, 08:46:46 AM »
AR549 , you are right about the sap wood. Sap wood is a lot less rot resistant for outside use. When you compare species on chart for decay resistance , it almost always exclude the sap part. The sap could have some good inside usage. I dont know about tulip poplar for outside use,  but all our poplar here are about the fastest roting wood around. 

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2018, 09:00:35 AM »
AR549,

   Welcome to the FF. Which part of WV are you located in?

    I have seen several cabins built in my area using small diameter peeled poplar logs. I think they used about 8-10 logs per side on their walls. They placed them head to toe to help keep the level, put plenty of spacer blocks every foot or so sort of like stickering lumber for air drying. I know one man said he used diamond wire for chinking thing chinked with cement or mortar mix. He had a portable mill come cut his rough lumber for flooring, ceiling and trim. He had 3 cabins he rented. He went up to Amish country and bought furnishings such as working wood stoves, kerosene lamps, etc. He said he had spent between $3500-$4500 each on building the 3-4 BR, 1 Ba cabins that looked real nice. He spent more furnishing them than building.

   If you are ever in the neighborhood I'll take you over and show them to you.
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Offline Stephen1

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2018, 09:34:35 AM »
You can use any wood to build with, some are easier than others. A good roof overhang, the bottom log being up off the ground, ( so rain water does not splash)
no vegatation around the log walls, allowing the good air flow , to allow the logs to dry quickly after being rained on.
I have a friend on our lake, his dad built a log cabin out of our poplar back in the 50's, its still in great shape.
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Online Don P

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2018, 09:45:12 AM »
We are talking about two different poplars here. Stephen and curved wood are talking about aspen rather than tulip poplar. What they are saying is correct, just be aware when using the term poplar on the net that those species are often confused.
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Offline Ar549

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2018, 10:00:18 AM »
AR549,

   Welcome to the FF. Which part of WV are you located in?

    I have seen several cabins built in my area using small diameter peeled poplar logs. I think they used about 8-10 logs per side on their walls. They placed them head to toe to help keep the level, put plenty of spacer blocks every foot or so sort of like stickering lumber for air drying. I know one man said he used diamond wire for chinking thing chinked with cement or mortar mix. He had a portable mill come cut his rough lumber for flooring, ceiling and trim. He had 3 cabins he rented. He went up to Amish country and bought furnishings such as working wood stoves, kerosene lamps, etc. He said he had spent between $3500-$4500 each on building the 3-4 BR, 1 Ba cabins that looked real nice. He spent more furnishing them than building.

   If you are ever in the neighborhood I'll take you over and show them to you.
I'm from Wyoming County and that's where we bought our land.  Live in SC right now but hoping to relocate back home by spring.  Been here 20 years and I can't take it anymore! 

How small diameter are we talking?  I guess I can assume by the number of logs you mentioned per side that they're roughly 12"  or a little less.  I'm honestly just trying to decide on method of building.  Thought about timber frame, but the expense in insulating them properly is insane.  I don't want to stick frame and do all the conventional construction stuff.  Been doing that all my life and I'm sick of it, plus I want to mill my own lumber off the land, so.....leaning toward logs for their thermal properties. 

 

Offline Ar549

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2018, 10:34:13 AM »
We are talking about two different poplars here. Stephen and curved wood are talking about aspen rather than tulip poplar. What they are saying is correct, just be aware when using the term poplar on the net that those species are often confused.
Yes I've learned that through my searches.  We've always just called it poplar here in WV...and it's not poplar at all.  I guess I should just call it tulipwood and leave it at that.  Definitely brings about confusion.

Offline Ar549

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2018, 10:40:14 AM »
AR549 , you are right about the sap wood. Sap wood is a lot less rot resistant for outside use. When you compare species on chart for decay resistance , it almost always exclude the sap part. The sap could have some good inside usage. I dont know about tulip poplar for outside use,  but all our poplar here are about the fastest roting wood around.
This along with what Mike replied above makes sense.  The old timers likely boxed out the heart wood to build the walls and used the rest for interior uses.  All I know is that every one I've seen locally is really old and square log.  If I search "Tulip Poplar log cabin", I get a whole lot of the same thing.  Square log, dovetail, wide chinking....etc..

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2018, 10:44:24 AM »
   I never measured the logs of course but I'd estimate they were no more than 10" on the big end and at last 6-8 inches on the little end. Did not seem to have too much flare on them. I think they were 30-40 ft long. I asked him why the logs did not sag and he told me about the spacer blocks wedged between them so they could not sag at all. There looked to be a couple of inches of chinking between each log. Seems to me he had a crawl space underneath and the cabins were built on blocks at least on the corners and probably a pretty solid foundation. The next time I am over that way I'll try to get a picture.
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline Woodpecker52

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2018, 10:47:48 AM »
I have used poplar for post and beam, makes an excellent exterior board for sheds, barns, use it for flooring.  It is my favorite wood to saw besides cypress cuts like butter.  I would put in on par with sweetgum, I have a board from a barn I got in Tennessee it was grey colored 3/4 by 24 inches wide and 8 feet long and was solid green colored heart.  The mature trees will have green heartwood.  In the woods it has one long straight trunk and on my place I have let them grow to where they will not fit on my sawmill I have some monsters in the cove, reminds me of smokey mts.  As you can see they are my favorite tree, I hope nothing from asia comes over to destroy them like it has done to the ash tree.  Its time boys to stop playing around with importing that ' far in'  wood!  Lets see what good things we got in return, chestnut blight, dutch elm , emerald ash beetle, and down here the thing that has wiped the bobwhite quail off the map fire ant.
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2018, 07:39:35 AM »
Regarding R-values, consider cordwood construction if you arent entirely sold on conventional log cabin.  
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Offline Ar549

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2018, 09:36:58 AM »
Regarding R-values, consider cordwood construction if you arent entirely sold on conventional log cabin. 

I have.  It's an excellent idea, but my wife is not a fan.  I guess I could board and batten over it....worth considering.

Online Don P

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2018, 11:12:38 AM »
That is why you are seeing hewn and sawn poplar cabins. The ones built through poplar country were mainly meant to be sided and plastered over. Scots-Irish and English construction rather than Scandinavian. Think of it more as phased construction, the initial phase being a heavy timber horizontal framing system, chinked hewn logs quickly assembled. If a married man under the same constraints as you remained driven, the next phase was furring over and poplar siding outside, furring, wood lath and plaster on the interior. A log house was less desired than a sided and plastered house, it was weather protection and warmth, those are the main survivors now. The old poplar cabin on the mountain above me is built like that. The old crib was built the same way, but unchinked logs, it is collapsed, well both are going but the logs of the house being covered are in better shape. Anyway, the logs in that case are basically big, thick framing.

This is a detail from the saddlebag cabin where I smushed my thumb. The chinking was splits and plaster and/or the chips from working up the chimney rocks, then rough lime/sand plastered over. This one had been sided but not plastered inside, that's a furring strip top left of the door. Remember the first Icy Ball refrigerators? One was inside, horse drawn farm gear and I found part of a CSA trace chain.


  

here's the fireplace. In a saddlebag there is another fireplace on the other side, so 2 cribs separated by the fireplaces, a dogtrot slid together. Even when the rest of the logs are white oak, which was more common, the notched joist and plate logs are always poplar, easier to work and fasten to. I've also been able to stick my arm right through rotten spots in several. When a roof leak gets to them they are the first to go;




Powderpost like the sapwood, don't mess much with the green, borates are a good idea especially with poplar.
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Offline Ar549

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Re: Tulip Poplar
« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2018, 08:43:13 PM »
   I never measured the logs of course but I'd estimate they were no more than 10" on the big end and at last 6-8 inches on the little end. Did not seem to have too much flare on them. I think they were 30-40 ft long. I asked him why the logs did not sag and he told me about the spacer blocks wedged between them so they could not sag at all. There looked to be a couple of inches of chinking between each log. Seems to me he had a crawl space underneath and the cabins were built on blocks at least on the corners and probably a pretty solid foundation. The next time I am over that way I'll try to get a picture.

I'd certainly appreciate it if you could do that.  Would love to see it.  Thanks


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