TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter - April 2011
Saturday , 29 November 2014 , 01 : 20 PM
TurningBlanks.Net Store Newsletter
April 2011 Edition
Focus on Wood - Silver Poplar

Flat Sawn

Quarter Sawn

End Grain

General Information:

Silver poplar trees are non-native to the United States.  The trees were originally imported from European nations into the United States as ornamental trees, and have since spread beyond the landscapes for which they were originally intended.  Silver poplars can now occasionally be found scattered through some forests in the Eastern US.

Common Name(s):

Silver poplar, white poplar, white aspen, silver-leaf poplar, abele


Sapwood is typically a white or light tan color.  Heartwood is a dark orange to orange-brown color, with streaks of dark brown and white occurring very frequently throughout the heartwood.


28 lbs/ft3  - Not dense.  Relatively lightweight once dried


420 lbft - Moderately soft

Specific Gravity:


Turning Properties:

Turns very easily, with moderate tearout occurring along end grain sections.  Small areas of curl, quilting and birdseyes occur frequently in this wood, but do not typically affect turning.

Drying Properties:

Contains a moderately high moisture content, much like native poplar trees, requiring slightly longer drying times than other woods with lower initial moisture contents.  Some moderate warping typically occurs, but checking and cracking are not frequent except in areas which may contain heavy figure (crotchwood sections, burls, etc.)

Sanding Properties:

Sands very well.  For removing tool marks, 120  grit sandpaper is recommended.  Will sand to a medium high luster, usually requiring grits no higher than 600 to achieve good results.

Finishing Properties:

Readily accepts most stains and finishes without need for any special pre-treatment of the wood surface.


There are no known toxicities associated with silver poplar.

Turning Tutorials - Food Safe Finishes, Part 3

Food Safe Finishes, Part 3 - Blended Finishes

This will be the final part of a three part series regarding food safe finishes.  In this article, we will be covering the different types of blended food safe finishes which are currently available on the market today.

Oil Blends -

Multiple Oil Blends - The oil based finishes which we covered two months ago in our newsletter can be blended in various ways to produce different effects.  For example:  more durable oils (such as tung oil) can be blended with somewhat darker-colored oils (such as walnut oil) to achieve different effects than what could be produced from either in its pure form.  A variety of companies produce these blends, but they can be easily blended in your own shop. 
Single Oil Blends - Other oil based finishes contain only a single type of oil, which has been blended with additives which alter their application, durability, color and/or drying rates.  One of the most widely used examples of this product is Behlen Salad Bowl Finish, which is a blend of tung oil and Behlen's proprietary mix of FDA-approved additives.

Wax Blends -

Multiple Wax Blends - The wax based finishes covered in last month's newsletter can also be blended in a variety of ways to produce different effects.  For example:  more durable waxes (such as carnauba wax) can be blended with waxes that produce lower sheens (such as beeswax) to achieve different results than what could be produced by either in its pure form.  There are a wide variety of commercially available blends, but again, you can easily blend these in your own shop.
Single Wax Blends - As with single oil blends, there are single wax blends which contain additives which alter the application, durability, color and/or drying rates of waxes.  A popular single wax blend is Renaissance Wax, which is a semi-synthetic wax popular for preservation of fine antiques due to its low odor and color preservation properties.

Oil and Wax Blends -

There are many, many types of oil and wax blends available on the market.  All are created in attempts to combine the best qualities of different oils and waxes to the best possible effect.  Sometimes fragrant oils (such as lemon oil) may be added to provide odor for the finish, or vitamin E oils are added for additional antibacterial protection.  Other times carnauba wax may be added to increase surface hardness, or beeswax might be added to lessen the gloss of the final finish.  There are literally thousands of potential combinations which can be created.  Like other oil blends or wax blends, these can be bought commercially, or you can use your imagination and come up with your own by combining other food safe oil and/or wax based finishes.

Urethane Blends -

Urethane blends typically contain some sort of urethane which has been thinned with a variety of oils and additives to make the product easier to apply.  These finishes are typically some of the hardest, most durable food safe finishes available today, which require less coating (and re-coating) to produce a sufficiently durable layer of protection for your wood.  One of the most widely available examples of this product is General Finishes Salad Bowl Finish.


In conclusion to this series about food safe finishes, there are a few other important facts you should understand concerning food safe finishing.  First, and most importantly, one must realize that there is much debate over the thought that all finishes are food safe once they have fully cured.  Perhaps all finishes may be safe once fully cured, but if one wants to take caution and make absolutely sure, they can rest assured that using the information we've provided in the last three newsletter articles about food safe finishing will allow them to know that they've got things done properly.  Just remember one thing for certain:  never use plant oils (vegetable oil, peanut oil, etc.) which can turn rancid.  This is definitely one mistake which will make your finish unsafe as the oil deteriorates and bacteria begin to form within the wood.  

All archived monthly newsletters do not include the following:

  • Business updates
  • Recently added woods and schedule of upcoming woods
  • Photo of the month contest results
  • Discounts and upcoming sales information

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