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Thread: paulownia wood

  1. #1
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    Oct 2008
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    paulownia wood

    My buddy recently chopped down a big paulownia tree and had it sliced into various sized planks. The wood is still very much full of sap. What process(es) should be taken to cure/dry the wood for woodworking projects including surfboard building? Any ideas how long shed drying, etc, will take? We're in virgin territiory here. . . .

  2. #2
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    The best paulownia for surfboards is kiln dried. Guys who do that talk about the percentage of moisture in the wood. Shed drying just doesn't get the percentage down as low as kiln drying. In the shed, you're looking at about two months of dry, warm temps.

  3. #3
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    Much longer than two months if drying in an ambient environment. Check around with your local exotic wood dealers and any mills in your area, they may know someone in the area that will rent you some space in their kiln. There are also ways to do it DIY style with tarps and fans, but it will still take over 4 months. Not sure about specifics on Paulowina, but generally I like to keep all of my hard woods and exotics at less than 18%, but it varies by season

  4. #4
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    Because of it's very low specific gravity, Paulownia dries much faster than other woods. I found this...

    Air-drying takes as little as 30 days. Boards can be kiln dried at high temperatures in as little as 24 hours to 10% to 12% moisture content with no warping. Reported shrinkage from green to oven-dry is only 2.2% radial and 4.0% tangential.
    Paulownia remains stable during changes in humidity and experiences little shrinkage or expansion compared to most other woods. It is highly durable and resists decay under non-ground contact conditions. The wood is insect resistant.

    But Erock makes a good point... it's winter, in MD, and that will slow the process considerably.
    Last edited by LBCrew; Jan 26, 2012 at 12:33 AM.

  5. #5
    The local mill is killing me. I have called 3 times, hoping for a different person each time. They don't care what it is for, what type of wood, etc. They say that they are a production mill... That they dry wood in 2 days and it will warp/crack my paulownia...
    So, that said, any suggestions? I probably have 30 or so boards that are 2x6x10 or so... Plus a bunch of boards for fins, alaias, etc... I already have several boards I want to make... Plus Mike's wishlist... We gotta get this wood ready for shaping!

    By the way, Thanks for your help Mike unloading that wood from that portable mill, you're the man!

  6. #6
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    Two days sounds about right, but everything I know about Paulownia says it resists warping, cupping and cracking better than most other woods. See my above posts... If you're nervous about oven drying, set up a rack in your house... along a baseboard heater, under your bed, whatever warm, dry place you can find, and forget about it for a few months. Shape it in the Spring.

    But I can tell you Paulownia is kiln dried by most mills.
    Last edited by LBCrew; Feb 2, 2012 at 11:08 AM.

  7. #7
    there's actually a trade association for it and jon wegener actually took a board he shaped me to one of their meetings so they're somewhat familiar with using it for surfboards.

    http://www.paulowniatrees.org/

    the wegener bros are obviously very into it and are quite generous with sharing info so it might be worth dropping them an email too.

  8. #8
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    please share your findings and the results once you have shaped your boards

    I am growing paulownia trees right now and plan to dry the wood inside near my woodstove when ready

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Since you live in the 'Bury, you can expect to see Ron's truck backing up to your house soon so he can talk you into drying the wood for him. .. . .

    Hope you got plenny room,cause some of the planks are 10' long.

  10. #10
    I'm really psyched to see a thread like this especially because it involves the EC. I feel like we, the East, are so far behind in the alternative materials/board "movement". My next project is going to be an alaia, just because. I had a chance to surf a Wegener alaia in Maine last fall and it was a blast. I can't remember the last time I had a session that involved so many smiles. Keep updating as you progress.