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Paulownia Lumber

We have paulownia lumber for sale for both large projects and hobby wood projects.

Paulownia wood is in a market all its own. It is a specialty wood with many unique characteristics. Because of its light weight, water tightness, and stable dimensions, it has found markets in water sports, furniture, the molding industry, and as a excellent alternative to balsa wood. The wood also weathers well outdoors and has been found to be a suitable substitute for redwood. And of course, its acoustic characteristics for musical instruments are second to none.

Paulownia is not a wood for all projects. It is not a wood where weight-bearing support is needed.

Properties of Paulownia Wood

  • Light weight: Oven-dry specific gravity: 0.17 - 0.37

  • Very easy to dry and less drying defects

  • Very stable in wet/humid environments after being dried(i.e. very low/slow moisture absorption)

  • Highly durable/decay resistance under non-ground contact conditions

  • High fire resistance: Ignition Temperature: app. 425°C (ave. softwood 257°C, ave. hardwood:233°C)

  • High abrasion resistance: slow-wear against sand/soil

  • Soft, but has strength

  • Low compression|| to grain strength: 2,800- 3,600 psi

  • good tensile || to grain strength: 5,300 - 8,500 psi

  • Excellent sound quality and absorption, less affected by change of weather

  • Excellent material for making high quality musical instruments

Weight of Paulownia Wood

Paulownia lumber is lightweight.  It is about 2/3 the weight of the lightest commercial wood grown in the US.  It weighs an average of 14 to 19 lbs per cubic foot. Paulownia is almost 1/3 the weight of Oak (44 lbs p/cubic ft) and half the weight of Pine (30 lbs p/cubic ft). The specific gravity of Paulownia ranges between 0.23 to 0.30 (23 to 30% of the density of water). 

Woodworking Characteristics of Paulownia

Paulownia holds nails and screws well and does not require pilot holes to be drilled. In fact both yellow poplar and white pine have proven to split before Paulownia. Flat head screws can be driven flush with the surface. Plantation grown Paulownia is mostly knot free, making it very consistent.  It can be peeled for veneer in 1/16 inch thickness and has even been sliced at 1/32 inch. Intricate patterns can be cut with a jig saw or band saw without splitting easily. Paulownia has been a favorite for many carvers in the US.
All normal finishing materials can be applied and it bonds well with glue. Stability Air-drying takes as little as 30 days. Boards can be kiln-dried at high temperatures in as little as 24 hours to 10% to 12% moisture content with no warping. Reported shrinkage from green to oven-dry is only 2.2% radial and 4.0% tangential. Paulownia remains stable during changes in humidity and experiences little shrinkage or expansion compared to most other woods. It is highly durable and resists decay under non-ground contact conditions. The wood is insect-resistant.

Conductivity of Paulownia Wood

Paulownia is a very good insulator. Paulownia log homes are said to have twice the R factor as pine or oak logs. This temperature resistance serves to give the wood a high fire resistance. Ignition temperature is approximately 400 deg. C. which is almost twice many conventional American hard and soft woods.


Paulownia has a light blond appearance and resembles White Ash. It stains well with a variety of colors and can be made to mimic other woods. Once planed a silky luster is revealed.

Where is Paulownia Used?

Paulownia has been widely used in the orient for fine furniture, musical instruments, carvings and decorative finishes for over 1000 years.  Furniture, doors and windows can be made with close tolerances.

Paulownia as an Alternative to Balsa Wood

Strength of Paulownia Wood versus Balsa

Balsa has been incorrectly considered to have the highest strength to weight ratios of any wood in the world. Paulownia has one of the highest strength to weight ratios of any wood with a modus of rupture MOR (psi) of 5740.  Paulownia has been thoroughly tested and found to have a higher strength to weight ratio than Balsa!  Auburn University tested the strength of 18 lb p/cubic ft. Paulownia against Balsa, with an average weight of 10 lbs p/cubic foot.

Woodworking Quality of Paulownia versus Balsa

Some Balsa core material is sliced at 3/8 inch with end-grained material. Paulownia can be cut at 3/16 and offers approximately the same strength and weight. Paulownia offers a space saving-benefit - it can be cut half as thick. There is also a significant cost savings because half as much material is needed. Lighter grades of Paulownia weigh only 14 lbs per cubic foot. This is lighter than many Balsa grades. When considering the large amount of epoxy that Balsa soaks up, Paulownia gains an even larger weight advantage.  Paulownia is easily carved and can hold nails and screws without splitting. It also provides greater stability and flexibility for making molds and models.

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