Wood Properties of Tupelo

Wood Properties of Tupelo

TUPELO, WATER Nyssa aquatica (Nyssa – a water nymph; aquatica – of the water)

This species is known by many different names, some of the most prominent being BAY POPLAR, GUM, GRAY GUM, HAZEL PINE, OLIVETREE, PAW PAW GUM, SOUR GUM, SWAMP TUPELO, TUPELO, TUPELO GUM, WHITE GUM and YELLOW GUM.

This tupelo grow in a long, narrow belt around one hundred miles wide, running down from southern Illinois through the Mississippi Valley to Texas, across the Gulf states and up along the Atlantic coast as for north as Virginia.  The name of this wood stems from the fact that it grows best in freshwater swamps, along the edges of lakes and streams.  Generally it is a fairly small tree – 50 to 75 ft. in height with an average diameter of around 2-1/2 ft.

The heartwood is a light brownish to a yellowish brown and sometimes nearly white in color.  The bark is roughened by small scales, furrowed longitudinally and of dark brown color.  This wood has to be worked with care, as it is difficult to produce lumber that will stay flat.  It has a natural tendency to twist and rquires unusual attention in drying.

Water tupelo is a weak wood, soft and light in weight.  It is a poor woo for craftsmen to work with, as it glues very poorly and has to be worked with considerable care.  This wood is used for paper pulp, caskets, cheaper furniture and veneers.  It is a favorite veneer for the manufacture of tobacco or cigar boxes, tupelo serving as a core with a thin veneer of cedar on either side.

Comments & Questions

Our first comment today comes from Alison Lamazza from Mahwah, NJ who writes:

“This is a great post, Bob! This happens all the time in the fine art world as well. Wish more people would respect others’ work enough to give them the simple courtesy of a tag – it matters! Thank you for sharing!”

Thanks for your response, Alison!  I’m sure it happens everywhere.  In my opinion, I think it’s because people are too ashamed to admit that they copied from someone else.

Alison is a free lance artist who sells her work through her Etsy shop called h2ostudio.  Check out her fantastic work, and if you like to cook you might like to follow Alison’s blog called crockpotsandcoffeecups.com.  She is a graduate of the Culinary Institute and is an amazing cook.

Our next comment comes from Dean Stewart with an answer and explanation to my question about how he makes his wood rings:

“Bob, A follow up on the rings. First credit where credit is due. The idea for these came from an instagram post by Hamed Eskandary @eskandary_wood. He is an amazing artist. Check out his work.

The rings started by drilling a 5/8 inch hole into a 1 1/4 by 1 1/4 4 inch block of wood thru the end grain. That serves as the beginning of the finger hole. Cutting end grain takes a sharp bit. Next you can cut a slice off about 1/2 thick to become a ring. For some of them, though, I started carving the top of the ring before cutting it. that way I had a “handle”. I carved the faces off the edge of one corner. After is was mostly done, I rounded the rest of the outside of the ring. To size the ring you can do a couple of things. One is trace the inside of a ring that fits and measure it. It is also possible to find conversion charts on the internet that convert ring sizes into circle diameters. Once I knew the size I used a Dremel and a sanding drum to expand the interior of the ring to size and sand it smooth at the same time. Be careful not to sand away to much and weaken the band. Larger rings may require a larger blank.

I experimenting right now with making a jig for my scroll saw to let me cut blanks in a rough ring shape before carving to save some time.

Try one Bob, they don’t take long and they will fire your imagination.”

Thanks so much, Dean, for that detailed explanation!  I really appreciate your response and I am definitely going to try making a few!

Out next question comes from Bob who is looking for a source for good basswood eggs:

“Where can I buy basswood eggs that aren’t hard? I have some but they are hard as rock.thankgou”

Bob, you need to make sure you buy good basswood eggs made from quality northern basswood. There are several woodcarving suppliers that carry good basswood eggs.  Here are just a few that I use and can recommend:

1.  Stadtlaner Carvings    http://www.stadtlandercarvings.com

2.  Hummul Carving Co.     http://www.hummul.com

3.  Greg Dorrance Co.      http://www.gregdorrance.com

Rough Outs For Sale!

Turtle rough out – $5

This is a Wayne Shinlever rough out I bought from Smoky Mountain Woodcarvers. I don’t think it’s available any longer. I’m selling it for $5 plus shipping.

Pirate rough out – $5

This is a Dwayne Gosnell rough out which is 7-1/2″ tall and sells new for $16 plus shipping. I’m selling this one for $5 plus shipping.

Let the chips fly!  Tell your wood carving friends and spread the word about Wood Chip Chatter, and don’t forget to click the ‘Comment’ button at the bottom of the page to send in your questions and comments so we can keep Wood Chip Chatter active and keep the conversations going! 

And remember, we need your photos!  I’m sure you all have some terrific carvings to share, and photos of your carvings will help to liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting.  Perhaps we can start a carvers photo section!  Email your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

Last night I slept like a baby. I woke up three times, wet myself twice and cried myself back to sleep.

Published by carverbobk

I’m a self taught award winning wood carver who has been carving since I was a teenager. I enjoy instructing other carvers, especially beginners.

2 thoughts on “Wood Properties of Tupelo

  1. While I agree that credit should be given where it’s due, I disagree that I was too ashamed to admit that I copied someone’s idea. As a new carver, I was simply unaware this should be done. When posting on social media to friends who have no idea who Doug Linker is, I gave no credit. When posting to the FB page Beginners Wood Carving, I gave credit as the majority of carvers there are familiar with his work. Not an excuse, just ignorance. Moving forward I will always give credit, so thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bob,thanks again for what you do and thanks again for the free knowledge!! I liked the Tupelo article, while all this time I thought duck carvers used Tupelo.


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