Paulownia Wood Added to Wood Racks at Woodcraft

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Paulownia wood is available from time to time at your local Woodcraft store and online at  Paulownia was named after Queen Anna Pavlovna of Russia (1795-1865), is sometimes called Royal Paulownia or Princess Tree, and is known in Japanese as Kiri.  In Japan it is customary to plant a Paulownia tree when a baby girl is born and then to make it into a dresser as a wedding present when she marries.  Paulownia seeds were originally used as packing material for shipments from Japan, and have spread prolifically across the U.S.  blooming annually.

Native to Eastern Asia, Paulownia is very light in weight (17 to 21lbs per cubic foot), fine-grained, soft, warp-resistant, and has a natural resistance to Termites.  Blonde to golden brown in color, it is a substitute for Balsa wood and similar to Catalpa, another lightweight and porous hardwood.  It is used for chests, boxes and clogs.  In the U.S., the wood is mostly used for water and snow sports products.  It is a great carving wood and a substitute for balsa wood.  It’s widely used in Japan for construction of the koto (a stringed musical instrument), as well as for other plywood, veneer, furniture, boxes, millwork, siding, musical instruments such as electric guitar bodies, clogs and carvings.  Due to it’s porosity, the wood takes a wide variety of glues, stains, and finishes very well.


Paulownia’s grain is generally straight, with a coarse, uneven texture with very large pores giving it a striped, porous look.  It’s engrain is ring-porous, with tyloses common and distinguishable growth rings.  Paulownia is extremely easy to work, however, due to a high silica content in some trees, the wood can have a strong blunting effect on cutting edges, so be sure your tools are extremely sharp.


Other properties:

  • Shrinkage is Radial: 2.7%, Tangential: 5.0%, Volumetric: 7.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.9.
  • Paulownia air dries in 30 to 60 days without cupping, warping, cracking or splitting.
  • Kiln drying takes 36 to 60 hours depending on dry kiln configuration, horsepower and dimension of lumber.
  • Paulownia is resistant to decay and rotting provided it is not in permanent contact with the ground.
  • Paulownia species vary in porosity according to variety but range from 75 to 88% in comparison with poplar 70 to 72%.
  • Fire resistance is a feature of all Paulownia, ignition temp 420 to 430 deg Celsius as compared to average hardwood at 220 to 225 deg Celsius.
  • Density of Paulownia species @10% moisture content ranges from 17.8 to 23.2 depending on variety and growing conditions.
  • Thermal conductivity of Paulownia is very low thus giving it excellent heat/cool insulation properties.
  • Chemical composition of Paulownia varieties: Hemicellulose Pentozan 22 to 25%, Cellulose 46 to 49%, Lignin 21 to 23%, Water 7 to 8%, Ash .50 to 1.1%, Fiber 58.5 to 60.1%.

When it is available, Woodcraft offers Paulownia Wood  in the following sizes:

Paulownia 3/4″ x 6″ x 36″; Woodcraft item #857354.
Paulownia 3/4″ x 4″ x 48″; Woodcraft item #857355.
Paulownia 2″ x 2″ x 12″; Woodcraft item #857356.
Paulownia 2″ x 4″ x 12″; Woodcraft item #857357.
Paulownia 2″ x6″ x 18 ″; Woodcraft item #857358.

Due to the nature of wood movement, shrinkage and expansion are possible. Please measure each piece carefully before starting any project.

Wood is a product of nature, and as such, no two pieces are alike to start with, while the same wood growing in different locales can vary greatly even though it is the exact same species.

Thin stock is cut to size from quality, kiln-dried stock. Carving and Turning Blocks are sawn to +/- ¼” of size listed. Plywood sizes are nominal, dimensions are +/- 1/8″ of size listed.

If you are fortunate enough to find this wood in stock, you better stock up!  It is a rare species to find and it is not always readily available.

In this video, we talk about Paulownia being offered at Woodcraft, some things that were made from it, including Roger Strautman‘s carved clock, Jim Clark’s miniature Duck Decoy, and a Japanese Tool Box built by product manager George Snyder.  We will feature the toolbox in a How-To-Build blog, coming up next.


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