Wood Properties of Cottonwood

COTTONWOOD, EASTERN Populus deltoides (Populus – ancient Latin name; deltoides – triangular in reference to the leaf shape)

This tree is known also by several other names, including ASPEN COTTONWOOD, CAROLINA POPLAR, RIVER POPLAR, WATER POPLAR, YELLOW COTTONWOOD.

The tree grows to a height of 100 ft. or more, with a diameter from 5 to 8 ft.  It is at its best in moist soil, along the banks of rivers or edges of swamps.  It has a wide distribution in this country and to early pioneers in the Midwestern plains the trees proved invaluable for shade and timber, and the leaves helped to feed the livestock.  The bright green, broad leaves have a feathery appearance and flutter in the breeze like the quaking aspen.  This is the state tree of Kansas.

The wood of this tree is very similar in texture and appearance to the other eight or ten species of this family.  The tree was named from the cottony fluff that is attached to the seeds.

The color of the wood is creamy white, and the heartwood is white to light brown.  It has a smooth, even texture and is slightly lustrous in appearance.  Difficulty is experienced in seasoning cottonwood, owing to the large amount of warpage, but it is easily worked with tools and is a favorite wood for manufacturing boxes and packaging crates because it takes the stencil ink so well.  It is also used for rough carpentry work, excelsior, firewood, pulpwood and low-priced commercial veneers.

Reader’s Comments

I received some very nice comments this month from two of my readers which I wanted to share.  The first one comes from my friend, Gary O. Baker who said:

“Another good issue Bob, thank you for your work!”

Thank you for your kind thought, Gary.  It is much appreciated.

My second comment comes from my very dear friend Phyllis Stone who wrote:

“Awesome blog as usual Bob. Thanks for all you do to keep this blog going. Take care.”

Thank you, Phyllis.  I appreciate your words of encouragement.

Next, we have an excellent question from Whittle Designs regarding last month’s article on How to Make Emblems & Logos for Wood Carvings.  Whittle Designs asks:

“What type of paper does Ed print is logos on?”

That’s a very good question, so I check with Ed and this is what he had to say:

“I do use just regular computer paper.  You have to be careful on paper weight.  The lighter papers glue onto the wood better.  Heavier papers don’t like to adhere to distortions on the wood from carving plus the edges become more prominent.”

We also have a comment from my good friend, Jim Babcock from Columbus, Indiana who wanted to pass along a little tip to everyone.  Jim writes:


Just passing this along, not sure I would do this often.  I tinted some Howard Feed-N-Wax with a bit of acrylic paint.  Certainly could have achieved a similar effect with diluted paint or stain.

Just an f.y.i.”

Jim’s Figure

Not a bad thought, Jim, and experimenting is always a good thing but I think (in most cases) the coloring should be applied before the finish and wax goes on.

Carver’s Corner

“Carver’s Corner” is the section where you can send in photos of your carvings to have me critique them and offer you my truthful opinions on what you did right and what you might improve on next time.  It’s an excellent opportunity to improve your carving skills!  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

It’s been awhile but I finally got another entry into the “Carver’s Corner” for a carving critique.  My good friend, Dean Stewart sent in a photo of a flower with a female face he recently carved.  Here’s what Dean had to say:

“I thought I’d send along a picture of my recent attempt at a female face.  I would appreciate if you put that in the feedback column and offer some input on improvements.”

Dean’s Flower

Thanks so much for your entry, Dean!  I was almost ready to give up on the Carver’s Corner.  There’s a lot to like about your flower.  Your overall execution was well done.  The paint color choice is good and I like the pearlescent look of the whole carving.  The petals are carved nicely but next time try to undercut them more.  Don’t be afraid to carve underneath to give the effect that one petal is overlapping the other.

You also hit a home run with the female face in the center.  Female faces have very smooth features and high cheek bones and you nailed all of that.  Closing the eyes also helped to make it look more feminine.  It wouldn’t pass for a realistic face but it does have a nice angelic look about it.  Nice job…I believe you accomplished your goal.

Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.

This month we have two photos of a unique carving from my very good friend, Nicky Foley.  Nicky describes the carving and tells the intriguing story behind it:

“Hi Bob

          sliothar is a hard solid sphere slightly larger than a tennis ball, consisting of a Cork or rubber core covered by two pieces of leather stitched together. Sometimes called a “hurling ball” they used to be timber also. These are used in the game of hurling which dates back to 1200 BC, this ball would be hit around a pitch with a wood Ash stick called a hurl\hurly.

Look it up on YouTube it’s a tough game and helmets were only made compulsory in 2010 and before this they were optional  . Thank you for thinking that this is good enough for your Blog  which i always look forward to coming out. Keep up the good work.

Hurling is played mainly in Ireland apart from a pocket around the world where Irish

people have emigrated to.  London actually have a small league going on and they pay in the

all Ireland championship now also. Australia has a few teams now playing as well.”

That’s very interesting, Nicky, and something I knew nothing about.  I did look it up in the encyclopedia and found that the game of hurling is much like a cross between lacrosse and field hockey.  The sticks, called hurlings are used to pass or bat the sliothar from one player to another, and to score goals.

Your carving of the sliothar is a very worthy representation, by the way.

Next we have a photo sent in by my very good friend, Bruce Ankeny from Blue Earth, MN of his incredible collection of Hippies:

Bruce Ankeny’s Hippies

Spectacular job, Bruce!  I always love seeing your work but these guys are definitely one of my absolute favorites!  I can’t say enough about the diverse expressions and remarkable attention to the details of that era.  Magnificent work, my friend!

Next we have a photo sent in by my very good friend, Jim Babcock who carved a wizard from my article which appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Woodcarving Illustrated.  Here is what Jim had to say:


Thanks for publishing your wizard pattern some time ago in the magazine.  It

adapts well to many styles and finishes.

Attached is an image of a garden wizard that I’ve carved often and given to

those who are dealing with illness or loss.   It seems to bring a smile.

Jim Babcock”

Jim’s Wizard

Thank you for the photo of your garden wizard, Jim!  I like how it is cheerfully painted and that you carve them for those who greatly appreciate having them.

Free Pattern

I realize winter just ended but I thought I would squeeze in this fun Eskimo:

Upcoming Workshops & Seminars

Woodcarving the Waving Walker

Teacher: Dave Stetson

Dates: April  22,23,29,30 May 6,7

Times:  Sat, Sun – 9:30am-11:30 Pacific /11:30am-01:30pm Central / 12:30pm – 2:30pm Eastern

12 hours (6 sessions – 2 hours each day)

 Location: Online (Via Zoom)

For more details and to sign up email Dave lcnmichele@aol.com

Woodcarving Old Faithful Horse

Teacher: Janet Cordell

Dates:  April 24, 28 May 1, 5, 8, 12

Times: 2-4 p.m. Pacific Time, 3-5 p.m. Mountain Time, 4-6 p.m. Central Time 5-7  p.m. Eastern Time

12 hours (6 sessions – 2 hours each day)

 Location: Online (Via Zoom)

Contact Janet Cordell at: janet_cordell@yahoo.com

Carving Little Caricature Pups

Teacher: Dale Green

Dates: May 20, 21

Times: 10:30-12:30 Mountain Time (2 hours each day)

Location: via Zoom

Cost: $95 which includes two roughouts (4″ & 5″) and shipping

Students will learn the different ways to apply texture, carving the eyes and painting for different effects.

For information contact Dale Green at: dalecarves@gmail.com or call 801-503-8754

Online Classes With Chris Hammack

Teacher: Chris Hammack 

Chris Hammack is offering a new series of online classes to help students learn and sharpen their woodcarving skills.  Individual and Group Classes are available through his web site chrishammackart.com/groupclass

Whittle Wednesdays

Teacher: Dwayne Gosnell  

Dates: Two – 2 hour classes each month on Wednesdays

Location: Online (Via Zoom)

To sign up contact Dwayne Gosnell via email dagwood_76@gmail.com

Bob Hershey has released his “Woodcarving Louisa Mae” Workshop recordings. All 8 parts have been uploaded. Bob takes you through his process of carving the wonderful “Louisa Mae bunny” just in time for Easter.

Reminder! we have added a Facebook group that is dedicated for students to share their creations that are based on their learnings from the Woodcarving Academy’s videos.  If you are a paying subscriber please join us by Clicking Here and ask to join the group. 

Woodcarving Academy

Established in 2020, the Woodcarving Academy offers dozens of videos and seminars created by some of the country’s top level instructors.  More videos are added regularly as they are created by the instructors.

With a paid subscription to the Woodcarving Academy you can view any videos you like for as many times as you like.

Subscription rates:  Monthly = $19.95   Quarterly = $49.95   Annual = $139.95

There is even a Free level which allows you to tour the website and watch the sample videos and content, and receive email updates as new content becomes available.

Check out the Woodcarving Academy and learn with the masters right in the comfort of your own home!

News & Announcements

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

Presentation Schedule:

4/8 – Van Kelly – Van Kelly’s Carving

4/15 – Matt Atland – Deep Holler Knives

4/22 – Ryan Green

4/29 – Richard Houlden

There are no further meetings currently scheduled at the time of this writing.  Check with the International Association of Woodcarvers for more updates.



The Jersey Hills Wood Carvers (JHWC) club is a small but growing group of wood carvers sharing their time, knowledge and joy of woodcarving.  The JHWC generally meets from 7:00 PM EST to 9:00 PM EST on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursday of each month (when school is in session) at the Jefferson Township High School wood shop classroom.

Membership is “FREE” and open to anyone interested in woodcarving regardless of their ability.

JHWC’s Upcoming Meetings and Events

Apr. 20th

May 4th, 18th

June 1st, 15th

For more information contact:

Al Santucci  alsantucci4@gmail.com  President

Bill Brunner  billbrunnerdesign@gmail.com  newsletter/website editor

Or visit:

Website:  https://www.jerseyhillswoodcarver.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/736479646821641/

AML Wood Carving Knives

AML Wood Carving Knives are handmade by Andy Loughlin in Monroe, New York.

The blades are made from 1095 high carbon steel which sharpens easily and holds an edge well.  The variety of handle styles are all made from diverse exotic woods from all around the world.  The knives are all available for auction on EBay under AML Knives.  Bidding usually starts at $22 and most knives sell for between $40 and $100.

I have personally used AML Knives and can tell you the quality is excellent.  They are very sturdy and well made.  These knives have quickly become quite popular and sell out fast so check the site often for availability.  Below are examples of some of the knives that have recently sold:

New Q&A Section Coming Soon!!!

I’m always in search of ways to make Wood Chip Chatter more informative, and recently came upon the thought of adding a Question & Answer (Q&A) section to my blog.  The Q&A section will be the place for readers to write in and ask anything they have on their minds regarding woodcarving and whittling.  I’m hoping this will be another way that I can be more helpful to the woodcarving community.

Feel free to ask anything you want.  Don’t be bashful.  Remember there is no such thing as a ridiculous or stupid question.  I want this new feature to be something everyone can benefit from.  Just send your questions to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com and I will answer them in my next blog post.  Just write “For Q&A” in the Subject box of your email so I know what it’s for.  It’s that simple.

I hope you will all take advantage of this excellent opportunity and give it a try.

Don’t Forget!

We are always looking your contributions to Wood Chip Chatter.  Your questions and comments help to keep this blog active and going!  Effective discussions are one of the best ways to learn about the topics that interest you.  Remember, there’s no such thing as a dumb question.  Plus we would all love to learn about the unique tips, techniques and products YOU use in your woodcarving process.

We can also use more photo contributions to the “Carver’s Corner” and “Photo Shop”.  My “Carver’s Corner” is a great way to get constructive critiques on your carvings so you can learn where to improve on your next ones, and I’m sure you all have some terrific carvings to share in my “Photo Shop” section.  Photos of your carvings liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting. 

Send your questions, comments and photos to carverbobk@woodchipchatter.com.  They will all be greatly appreciated.

The next issue of Wood Chip Chatter will be posted on Friday, May 5, 2023.

  Keep a sharp eye open for it!

A very Blessed & Happy Easter and Passover to everyone!

Enjoy your holidays!

Keep a sharp edge, and keep on carvin’!

Funny Bone

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.

One thought on “Wood Properties of Cottonwood

  1. Bob: Longtime reader and just want to thank you for promoting our wonderful hobby. Your newsletter continues to improve and is enjoyable to read. Here is a big “I like it!!!”


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