Smart, Cost-Effective, Treasured for Generations.

Cottonwood

Populus deltoidus
 
 

Stain Selector

Clear

Light

Medium

Dark

 

Cottonwood is the state tree of Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Where It Grows

Eastern U.S., main commercial areas: Middle and Southern states. Average tree height is 80 to 100 feet. Cottonwoods have rapid growth throughout their first 40 years, then grow slowly for the many years after. Some have been known to reach 100 feet in height in fifteen years.

Main uses

Furniture, furniture parts, millwork and mouldings, toys and kitchen utensils. Specialized uses are Venetian blinds, shutters, and caskets.

Relative Abundance

Together, aspen, basswood, cottonwood, elm, gum, hackberry, sassafras, sycamore and willow represent 12.5 percent of commercially available U.S. hardwoods.

Did You Know?

Cottonwoods were a welcome sight for pioneers moving westward. The cottonwoods marked the presence of streams in the otherwise treeless Great Plains.

General Description

The sapwood is white and may contain brown streaks while the heartwood may be pale to light brown. It is a diffuse porous wood with a coarse texture. The wood is generally straight-grained and contains relatively few defects. Cottonwood is a true poplar, and therefore has similar characteristics and properties to aspen.

Working Properties

General machinability is fair, although tension wood is frequently present and can cause a fuzzy surface when cut, which in turn will require additional care when finishing. The wood glues well and has good resistance to splitting when nailing and screwing. It dries easily but may still have a tendency to warp, with slight movement in performance.

Physical Properties

Cottonwood is relatively light in weight. The wood is soft, weak in bending and compression, and low in shock resistance. It has no odor or taste when dry.

Availability

Widely available.

Working Properties


Machining

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good

Nailing

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good

Screwing

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good

Gluing

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good

Finishing

 
 
 
 
 
Poor
Good
 

Strength and Mechanical Properties (inch-pound)a


 

Static Bending

Moisture Content

Specific Gravity (b)

Modulus of Rupture
(lbf/in2)

Modulus of Elasticity (c)
(106 lbf/in2)

Work to Maximum Load
(in-lbf/in3)

Green-12% 0.31-0.40 3,900-8,500 0.75-1.37 4.2-7.4

Impact Bending
to Grain
(in)

Compression
Parallel to Grain
(lbf/in2)

Compression
Perpendicular to Grain
(lbf/in2)

Shear
Parallel to Grain
(lbf/in2)

Tension
Perpendicular to Grain
(lbf/in2)

Side Hardness
(lbf)

— -22 1,690-4,910 140-380 500-1,040 — -580 — -430

a) Results of tests on small clear specimens in the green and air-dried conditions. Definition of properties; impact bending is height of drop that causes complete failure, using 0.71-kg (50 lb.) hammer; compression parallel to grain is also called maximum crushing strength; compression perpendicular to grain is fiber stress at proportional limit; shear is maximum shearing strength; tension is maximum tensile strength; and side hardness is hardness measured when load is perpendicular to grain.

b) Specific gravity is based on weight when ovendry and volume when green or at 12% moisture content

c) Modulus of elasticity measured from a simply supported, center-loaded beam, on a span depth ratio of 14/1. To correct for shear reflection, the modulus can be increased by 10%.