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Crafting with the Yellow Poplar Tree

Read up on readers’ tips for crafting with the yellow popular tree, building a solarium, setting up a sump pump watering system, and more.

| February/March 2020

A Popular Tree on the Homestead

In the eastern United States, a common hardwood tree, the yellow poplar, serves to benefit not only wildlife, but people as well. Yellow poplar, also known as “tulip tree,” isn’t actually in the same family as other poplar trees. Learning to identify this tree properly can be beneficial, as it makes for colorful lumber, a readily available woodworking source, and food for different animals.

I’ve found great use for yellow popular for walking sticks, and for fleshing beams and stretchers for my hide-tanning projects. Though we don’t burn it in the woodstove or mill the boards for major projects, we still find ways to use what’s cut down during any land clearing.


Crafting. This particular wood isn’t generally recommended for major building projects. This is mainly because trees harvested for old-growth heartwood have been found to have a resistance to decay, but most younger trees you encounter are mainly sapwood and don’t have the same durability. The lumber is great for small woodworking projects, however, and branches and smaller logs can also be used.

We frequently make simple walking sticks from small tulip poplar branches, or from smaller cleared saplings, because they’re easy to peel and are quite lightweight when dried properly. We’ve also used saplings to put together simple hide-stretching frames by connecting four long poles together with small notches, and lashing or nailing them together. Wood slices cut from small branches also make for beautiful coasters and Christmas ornaments that are suitable for woodburning and painting after they’ve been sanded. Even the peeled bark makes for useful cordage, which I use to display our bone needles.


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