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Thread: Royal Paulownia

  1. #1

    Royal Paulownia

    Has anyone had experience working with Royal Paulownia. I have a friend in Maryland who has four acres of this and wants to know what to do with it. From what I've read it doesn't seem to be a particularly good choice for woodworking.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Paulownia is an invasive non-native tree so I'd be inclined to remove and process all of it in one go. As I understand it, the wood from naturally grown non-plantation trees is pretty desirable in Japan, might try to find an exporter?

    I've felled and chainsaw milled one of them and found it similar to balsa wood so it might make a cool canoe if that's your thing.

  3. #3
    I've heard of canoe builders wondering about it but have never heard of someone actually building one with it. In fact I've never heard of anyone doing anything with it other than asking on forums what to do with it. There must be someone somewhere that uses it for something though.

    Alan

  4. #4
    Iíve heard the wood has some kind of cultural significance that makes it valuable, not any special look or durability.

  5. #5
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    A wannabe woodworker!

  6. #6
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    Paulownia is a native of Southeastern Asia. The story goes that a tree is planted after the birth of a daughter, and harvested when she is to be married. The wood is used to built an entire household of furniture.

    I am not sure how true this is, but we planted a Paulownia tree in our garden, and 5 years later it had dwarfed the house. It was a real bugger trying to remove it, as it spouted everywhere. Finally got rid if it, and I kept as much of the trunk as possible.

    It is incredibly light wood, like balsa, but several times as strong. It is prized in Japan for presentation boxes. I have a set if Kiyohisa chisels which came in a box made of Paulownia ...



    Iíve made a few boxes as well.

    It is fantastic for canoes. I imagine it would be excellent for drawer sides, being light, white and strong.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    It works well for small boxes. It is very light but works well. The larger logs all have a hollow center. It can grow 20 feet high in one season. I have harvested and dried some. It is hard to get boards over two to three feet because of twists, bends and knots.
    Last edited by Charlie Jones; 05-07-2021 at 9:37 AM.
    Charlie Jones

  8. #8
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    its has one of the best strength to weight ratios. we tried using it in a bridge building competition.

  9. #9
    If the OPs friend has significant inventory, he can make some money. Paulownia fetches a decent price per BF here in the States because Japan buys so much. He can easily sell it to the surfboard-making crowd. Google paulownia + surfboard and take a look at the prices.

  10. #10
    Paulownia is also used in musical instruments, mostly in Japan but also by some violin makers who use it for the blocks and lining due to its light weight and strength as others have noted.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Jones View Post
    I have harvested and dried some. It is hard to get boards over two to three feet because of twists, bends and knots.
    I've heard that it was a general commercial failure here (in the states) because most growers just let them grow without making the effort to prune and properly take care of them, resulting in what you've experienced.

    Alan

  12. #12
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    That’s probably true. They grow around here. Mostly on road banks at the lower elevations. The biggest one I have ever seen was in my parents yard. It was two feet in diameter and bushed out about six feet up. It had to be trimmed every other year because it grew so fast. I have some short pieces to make boxes from. We set some out on our property and all died. We live at 3700 feet. I haven’t seen any at this altitude.
    Last edited by Charlie Jones; 05-08-2021 at 9:09 PM.
    Charlie Jones

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Groer View Post
    Paulownia is also used in musical instruments, mostly in Japan but also by some violin makers who use it for the blocks and lining due to its light weight and strength as others have noted.
    Yup. A number of Asian importers are bringing in electric guitar bodies made from the stuff, touting the light weight and resonance. Oh, it’s cheap too.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

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