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Natural and non-toxic furniture from the finest sustainable hardwood lumber.

30" sawmill with large poplar log

Milling Tulip Poplar Slabs

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16/4 tulip poplar slabs from Clean Air Woodworks

A few weeks ago we stumbled upon a few 36″ diameter tulip poplar logs and had the chance to get them to one of the local sawmills.  Poplar is a fast growing tree that is common in the northeast and produces a wonderfully large leaf shaped, not surprisingly like a tulip flower.  All woods exhibit a higher degree of figure and quality when they age the roughly 100 years it takes to reach 3 feet is diameter and poplar is no different.  After craning the logs into the trailer we dropped them off at the sawmill and went to work.

Each log was 10′ 6″ long and perfectly straight, weighing in a staggering 2500 pounds.  It would have been magnificent to see this huge tree standing in the forest (or more likely a front yard).  It was taken down for unknown reasons as the log passed through several hand on the way to our possession.  However, we are sure that it came from Saugerties, NY.

These slabs were cut with one square edge and one live edge for a few reasons.  First, the big sawmill was down for repairs.  Second, the slabs were just slightly too narrow to make a proportioned dining table at their 10′ length using just one slab.  For a table longer than 8′, it is nice to get at least 38″-40″ in width and at a maximum of 36″, these just weren’t big enough.  So they were squared on one edge making the work of bookmatching pairs of the slabs easy.

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Clean Air Woodworks milling a tulip poplar log into wide wood slabs

Book matching is a process where two matching boards or slabs cut from the same tree are placed side by side to exhibit a matching pattern of grain lines that can make for some interesting designs.  Each of these poplar slabs is 28″ wide so we can make tables of up to 56″ wide x 10′ long, or cut down to any size smaller than this.  The slabs are stacked and labeled so that each pair is a match.  We also had a few mulberry crotches milled into future table legs, but that is another story.

These slabs will have to dry for a few years, unless we decide to put them in a kiln to finish them off, but drying is another story that we will tell later.

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