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Aspen good bad?????

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  • Aspen good bad?????

    I know that I've read several posts about aspen wood, but I can't find them anywhere. I just finished another dollhouse and I have several 1x4x8 pieces, the wood is beautiful, seems to cut well, and takes paint great. My question is how is it to carve?? If I glue it up, how will it carve?? Thanks ??? ???

  • #2
    Re: Aspen good bad?????

    I think aspen may be different in different places, the aspen I have from colorado, carves pretty good but chips bad, I used alcohol on it to help a little.....but maybe I was trying to do too fine in the detail department?

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    • #3
      Re: Aspen good bad?????

      I find the large tooth aspen carves better than quaking aspen, although I don't have the foggiest idea why.

      Al

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      • #4
        Re: Aspen good bad?????

        Hi Al,
        The first Aspen I carved was about 10 years ago and it was reclaimed from some pallets. Once it was planed, it was great. I did some relief and some in-the-round carvings from it. It carved pretty much like Basswood. I got some aspen poles and they made great wood spirits---some of which I drilled out the center and made match holders for the fireplace.

        I did these carvings well before I knew about spraying water/alcohol on the wood, but still got along ok. I would imagine the farther north the Aspen is grown, the better (softer) it would be--just like Basswood?

        If I had more, I'd sure use it!
        Donna T

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        • #5
          Re: Aspen good bad?????

          I have no idea where the aspen came from, I bought it at Lowes, it works great for doll houses. I have glued several 31/2 x 10 1/2 pieces together, hope I can use it. alot cheaper than basswood. Thanks for the help everyone.

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          • #6
            Re: Aspen good bad?????

            Al may verey well be right, the aspen I have is quaking aspen. You think maybe all that quaking is why I can't get it carved with out the chip outs? It just won't hold still! :

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            • #7
              Re: Aspen good bad?????

              Hmmmmmm.........could be! With the big tooth aspen, you have to be careful, or it bites back!

              Seriously, I enjoy carving the aspen...it has a nice straight grain, holds detail well and fuzzes only slightly. This is usually dealt with by using a good sanding sealer and then hitting it with a 200 grit or finer samdpaper prior to finishing. It has enough grain, that it can be finished really nicely with stain, or painted over with good results. It's right up there with bass wood as far as I'm concerned, and a lot easier to get in the wild. Sticks for walking sticks grow fast and furious in cut-over areas, and if you live in 'pulpwood' country, those are numerous.

              Speaking of wood for walking sticks, I've found that on the edges of northern Michigan swamps, dead or dieing balsam saplings make excellent walking sticks. I've harvested many, but have not even bothered to carve the ones I've done. Just sanded, put on a light stain, and finished with a good poly spray. Longitudinal splits that occur naturaly in the dead saplings can be filled with epoxy for added strenght but it is not necessary. They are extremely straight, strong, lightweight and have patterns of anual branch growth every four to six inches up the entire length. I cap the bottom with a copper pipe cap, inletted in flush with the surface, drill a hole through the handle end and add a leather strap, like a ski pole. Makes a really attractive stick, just as is, or they can be easily carved. I also have taken several live ones and am waithing for them to dry to see how they carve.

              Al

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              • #8
                Re: Aspen good bad?????

                Stevefr,
                I have bought some aspen from Lowes also./ Mostly carved rose and snowmen Refig magnets from it. I do have a relief longhorn bull sign I am garving that I have glues 1/2x6x36 inches for a Bar locally and it hase carved up nicely. I have incoropated fret work and carving in the sign. Different but the first initial thought from the owner was she liked it. May lead itto a couple more signs for her. However, I don't know the difference in big tooth or quaking aspen, But if HiHo and al says there is, then there is a difference.
                The only other carvingin the round was a puppy for my Granddaughter and it was easy to carve in. I do have a piece I got at the carving show last year in Tulsa and it is a little on the hard side and I think I will take HI HO's advice and use some alky on it. Maybe afet a couple of belts of that, It will loosen up a little. :
                Safety first, then enjoy carving! Ken Caney, Ks

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                • #9
                  Re: Aspen good bad?????

                  I agree with your assessment Al...I've used a lot of aspen and list it as one of my favorite woods to carve. I'ts readily available locally at the lumber dealers or, as I like to do because it grows in this neck of the woods, you can go out in the bush and harvest your own. A coating of wax on fresh cut surfaces does a good job of preventing cracking while it's drying.
                  I've carved some small pieces using 'green' aspen and even though some of them are now 4 to 5 years old there is no sign of cracking. Don't know how this would work for a large carving.
                  For those who haven't tried it, give it a go if you get the chance. 8)

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                  • #10
                    Re: Aspen good bad?????

                    Al,
                    I just happen to be carving a balsum as we speak mind you this one is still green the roads department had cut down a few and I of course snatched them up. I carved them green but I agree it carves beautiful I just dont know if it will check as is dry's.
                    Colin

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