Hanafee Bros. Sawmill Co., Inc.

Cottonwood (White Poplar)

Cottonwood is one of the softest hardwoods, more closely resembling Basswood than any other species. It is tougher and stiffer than Basswood and due to its interwoven fibers, it does not split very easily and is extremely wear-resistant for such a soft wood. It contains very few defects, is odorless and tasteless, has unusually uniform texture and works up fairly well. It is comparatively weak, decays quickly in contact with the ground, and has a tendency to warp in seasoning.

Due to the fact it is among the best woods for nailing, light weight, has a lack of odor, and a natural white color for printing, more than one-half of all Cottonwood lumber is used in the manufacture of boxes and crates. Its resilience and cleanliness also makes it a preferred material for excelsior. Large amounts of Cottonwood are cut into commercial veneer for utility type furniture and medium-priced furniture products, as well as drawer bottoms and back panels. Cottonwood is much used for food containers, such as baskets, fruit and berry boxes and candy barrels.

Other factory specific uses include: vehicle parts, planning mill products, agricultural implements, laundry appliances, corestock, drawer stock, refrigerators, dairy appliances, and trunks. Cottonwood is a popular toy material because of its softness, light weight and lack of taste or odor. In some parts of the country, it is one of the principal fuel woods. It is most commonly finished in paint or enamel. It can be finished in standard stain base finishes where special treatments are employed to counteract its natural fuzzy grain characteristics.


Natural color: White to cream.
Grain: Straight and mild.
Texture: Diffuse porous, coarse-textured.
Color variation: Very little.
Hardness: Soft.
Stiffness: Good.
Strength: Low.
Stability: [ability to stay in place] – Fair.
Decay resistance: Poor.
Bending: Poor.
Nail holding and screw holding: Fair.
Gluing: Excellent.
Machining: Fair.
Sanding: Poor, inclined to fuzz. Use 4/0 for best results.
Workability with hand tools: Good to fair.
Planing, molding and jointing: Poor. Best cutting angles 5 to 20 degrees, with 5-deg. back bevel, finish-9 to 15 knife cuts per inch.
Boring: Fair. Brad point bits with long taper cutting lips give best results.
Turning: Poor. Will produce good turnings only if dried down to about 6% moisture content and cutting edges are kept keen.
Paint holding: Fair. Surfaces should be sized or wash coated before finishing permitting cutting down of fuzzy grain by sanding.
Staining: Fair. Use only non-grain raising stains as oil stains muddy up and water stains raise fuzzy grain.
Finishing: Good for paint and enamel finishes, and can be finished in regular finishes where special treatments are used.

Hanafee Bros. Sawmill Co., Inc.
P.O. Box 157 | 520 East Harper | Troy, TN 38260
Phone: 731-536-4682 |Fax: 731-536-4758 | Email: hanafeebros@bellsouth.net