This is one of my larger pieces in terms of depth although certainly not in terms of diameter. The “tulip” refers to the shape of the flowers on the tree. If the piece was heavily colored it most likely would have been sold as “rainbow” poplar. Regardless of the marketing terms poplar is a relatively soft and common wood, most usually used for strictly utilitarian purposes as it isn’t really hard enough to withstand much hard usage.
Poplar really isn’t one of my favorite woods and this piece reminded me of why. First, the wood is relatively plain in appearance, especially compared to most of the exotic species readily available on the market. Second, the wood is soft and it simply doesn’t cut cleanly at all. It isn’t too bad on the grain edges but the cross grain areas are a chunky nightmare, which could also be because this piece is also spalted. I don’t recall if the spalt was always present or if it developed over the drying period. As is often true of spalted woods this didn’t sand evenly and if you feel carefully you can detect divots in several places where the wood was especially soft.
All told this isn’t my favorite piece but it is nice to know that I can handle large and deep blanks as well as large but shallow platters. I wouldn’t be surprised if I have more Poplar in stock but if for some reason I didn’t I would seek it out. But that is simply my opinion and no doubt there are turners out there who love working with Poplar and I wish them much joy!
All major cuts were made using the Easy Wood Tool system on my Robust American Beauty lathe, although I do use Robert Sorby bowl gouges for light final passes before sanding. Forward chucking was in a Nova Chuck, while reverse chucking was done using a Nova Chuck with Cole Jaws and the Big Easy Jaws from Easy Wood Tools. Sanding was with Gold and Green Wave sanding discs from Packard Woodworks. Final finish is Odie’s Wood Wax.
As always, I wish all my readers a great experience in whatever your wood working interests happen to be and to those who like working with lathes especially, do a good turn today!